By Blake Rackley

November 5th, 2011, 5am. I was woken by my friend’s dad. I didn’t get out of bed easily. After being asleep only 5 hours, it was time to tackle the day, or should I say the dawn. It was opening day in Schleicher County for the 2011 deer season. My friend had invited me to go down to his ranch house with some other family and friends to experience the greatness that was the deer season. Having never been, I jumped at the chance when it was offered. Now, I was groggily filing through my suitcase trying to put on articles of clothing appropriate for hunting, cold weather, and gutting a deer, but I didn’t mind. If this day ended with me taking home a deer of my own, it would mean the world in more ways than one.

After what seemed like a gallon of coffee, I was finally awake enough to be excited for the task at hand. However, as excited as I was at the moment, it was about equal to the nervousness I felt.  I found out the night before I’d be by myself in a deer blind, I’d handle a gun I’d never used, and would have to shoot it for the first time if a deer came my way. I had never done any of these things prior to this trip. Why did they think I could do this? I was nervous, but I put on my bravest face and gave a smile when told it was time to head out.

After about 15 minutes of getting lost, finding my way, and wrestling up the ladder to the blind, I was in position and ready to go for whatever may come my way. As I sat by myself in the stillness of the early morning, a sense of calmness came over me. I was beneath a sky full of stars, in peace and quiet. I was sitting completely still. It felt soul-warming to be that serene, seeing as how the morning started off groggy with a stomach full of worry and nerves and coffee. I felt I was ready for the task at hand. Until the deer feeder went off without warning. It sounded like the devil himself was cackling. But after I realized that what I heard was normal, I resumed my calm mood and prepared myself once again.

As the sun started to peek over the hills that lined the ranch horizon, I heard noises. I took out my binoculars so I could match what my ears were hearing; it had only been 20 minutes since the feeder sent me into a premature heart attack. But I was already hearing rustling and what seemed to be a faint crunching noise. As I looked through the binoculars, I not only saw what my ears were hearing but also what I needed to see to pull the gun from my lap and put it into position. There in the distance, about 100 feet away, stood a tall, 8-point buck. He was enjoying what he thought was breakfast, but to me was bait.

Was this it? Am I the one doing this? It’s now or never. These thoughts all raced through my head as I set the gun up, looked through the scope, and put the gun on fire mode. I took a deep breath, said a prayer, closed my eyes (not recommended), and pulled the trigger. The shot rang out loudly through the acres of the ranch. I made myself open my eyes. The deer was lying on the ground. “I did it. I GOT HIM!” I had said to myself.

Following what I’d been told, I waited 15 minutes before I walked down and over to the deer to check that he was no longer living. As I walked over, any nerves from the morning that remained from earlier were replaced with excitement as I took each step closer to my deer. My deer…that felt so cool to think about. Nobody assisted me, told me when to shoot, or pointed out the deer for the picking. I felt extremely manly at that moment. The best part was texting my friend’s dad with the message, “Guess whose gun shot that was!?”

That moment was a high marker in my life. It was a first time experience, it was emotionally draining, but I enjoyed it all thoroughly. It was a small dream realized that, in the recesses of my mind, I had told myself would most likely never come to pass. As life would have it, growing up I didn’t really have a dad around to teach me the things a young boy is supposed to learn from his daddy.  My dad was around enough to be able to say he supported us financially, but that was about the extent of it.

Despite this obstacle, I grew up quite normally. My mother worked hard and raised my brother and me to work, love yet fear God, and be the best we can be. However, around age eighteen, I looked around and saw how much I had been or was currently missing as a growing man. I would have just been happy with some guy friend’s to hang out with. My mom had always taught me and my brother to pray. That’s exactly what I did. I told God that I just wanted a good group of guys to hang out with and get to experience the stuff I missed out on growing up.

In November 2010, I was sitting on the couch in my living room watching my boxed series of “FRIENDS,” thinking of how cool it’d be to shoot a deer of my own. In November 2011, I was silently thankful for that answered prayer as I stood over my very own deer. I thought of what I had accomplished just minutes before along with all the other wonderful things that had happened in the last 365 days. I had not only got one friend, but six, who are the greatest companions I could ask for. They taught me how to play basketball, baseball, golf, a plethora of video games, how to shoot a gun, and so much more.

The experience I had is one that is shared by many men and even some women in the world, day in and day out. So, to say it was unique in the sense of me killing a woodland creature wouldn’t say much. But the unseen thoughts, emotions, and feelings that came with the experience are what made it unique to me. I had honestly thought an event as great as killing and gutting my own deer would never come to pass. Whether anyone reads this and feels exactly how I did at that moment isn’t what I’m after. What I choose to share and what matters is that I had a dream for myself and I got see it come to pass in the most unimaginable way.

That’s been a reoccurring theme in my life. I have certain goals and dreams that I would like to pursue and they come to pass, but almost never in the way I think they will. That’s where I believe a spiritual lesson was learned in what I accomplished. The token of faith for something hoped for is a great one. So many times, people try to make things happen on their own and what they want is not what they expected, or they fail. But when it comes to pass unexpectedly, it seems like such a blessing and a lifelong memory to the person it’s happening to. I feel that’s something I’d want to share with someone who reads this.

I plan to put my experience to good use in the future and that’s the biggest way this event has impacted me. I plan on sharing this experience with my son or sons when they are old enough to do so. I plan to make sure that the experiences I have been blessed with I will pass on to my kids. I don’t want my kids to have to go elsewhere to experience the things a father should teach his children, as I did. Why go to friends, family, or outsiders when the one who is supposed to be teaching them is right there?

As I grow and the next generation comes up behind me, I will be a leader to my children and grandchildren, both son and daughter.  In my opinion, this was the unseen but most significant part of finding my deer.  It is more than antlers up on my bedroom wall. It is a vow to me and my future kids to never give up on being the best person, friend, and father I can be.

TripBlake Rackley is an up and coming singer/songwriter from Midland, Texas. The 21-year old is currently a sophomore attending Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he is majoring in Entertainment Industry Studies and minoring in Music Business.

Blake has always loved writing, whether it be stories, essays, or songs. He enjoys pulling experiences from his own life and from the lives of others around him and penning them into a story, no matter what that format may be. He is currently producing a cover EP entitled “Introducing Blake Rackley,” due Spring 2014.

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