The 2019 Wisconsin deer gun season was better for some than others. For the record, almost 565,000 deer gun licenses were sold and almost 160,000 deer were registered. If I take some mathematical liberties, let’s just say that for every six hunters, two were successful. I was part of the minority group that harvested a deer. To be honest, it was a doe and yes, I really wanted some meat in the freezer. I also wanted to field test my new deer rifle and it passed with flying colors. I will need to bag a lot more deer and maybe a couple of monster bucks for it to acquire something more than its monetary value, which is sentimental value.

Like most hunters, I have had a few different deer guns in my gun case; most were unremarkable if not forgettable. As I got older and had more means, I upgraded to what was at least perceived as something better. However, it’s my first rifle that will always mean the most.

Unfortunately, in order to purchase my second, better gun, I had to use the first one as a trade to offset the cost. Most young hunters have to pay that price when upgrading and only years later fully understand that they let go of the most important gun that they would ever own.

My first gun was a Mossberg 190, 16-gauge with an adjustable choke. Prior to that, I had used loaners and hand-me-downs but this was the first one that was officially mine. I didn’t sleep with it but to be honest, I placed it in the corner of my room so that I could fall asleep looking at it every night, especially before deer season. For good reason this gun never became a classic like a Ruger 10/22, a Marlin 30/30, or a Wingmaster 870. It was a clumsy shotgun that had a bolt action. Those two things made it, well, not very popular but it was my first gun so it was the greatest gun ever made.

I never shot a deer with the gun but I know the exact spot where I bagged my very first squirrel. My first rabbit was shot only a few hundred yards from that spot. I am sure I put a dent in the local squirrel and rabbit populations around my childhood home. There are not any historical markers to commemorate the locations or events, but it will always be hallowed ground for me.

When I bagged my deer this year with my new rifle and scope, I was pretty pleased with how it performed. I look forward to using it for years to come but it wasn’t as exciting as when I bagged the squirrel and rabbit so many years ago. If you understand that, then we have traveled down the same hunting roads.