High-School Football Player Forced To Go Deer Hunting

Hunter's Journal: GON readers share their favorite hunt stories.

Reader Contributed | July 1, 2020

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By Sam Norris III

The fall of 2019 was my first year in high school at Frederica Academy. Things were off to a pretty good start to the school year because I was able to play high school football and fall travel baseball. In addition, I was very excited to do one of my very favorite things, which is deer hunting.

My father and I were planning to go on a hunting trip on Oct. 26. Our friend Frank Still has nice property in Pierce County. We had an away football game in Dublin, so my father and I were planning to go to the game on Friday and come back home the next day. We could then go hunt in the afternoon at Mr. Still’s property.

A few days before on Oct. 23, we had our normal football practice after school. We were practicing our plays, and I was lined up at offensive guard. The play started and I got tripped up trying to block the man in front of me. I fell on the ground on my right elbow. I got up off the ground, and I knew right away something was wrong because my elbow was not where it was supposed to be.

I took the next play off and went to see the trainer. The trainer told me that I either had a broken elbow or I had a tricep tear or some of both. This happened two weeks after my elbow first started hurting at a baseball tournament and had hurt over the entire two weeks. My mother and I went to the prompt care facility close to the Frederica campus, and I was told by the doctor that I had broken my elbow.

The next day, we went to a doctor to talk to him about my elbow, and he said that I would definitely need surgery within the next two weeks. My football season was over

Even though I had a broken elbow, my father suggested that we could still go on our hunting trip, and I could shoot left-handed. We decided that Friday would be a better day to go than Saturday because there was supposed to be heavy rain on Saturday. I was slightly skeptical of this because I did not believe that I would be able to shoot accurately left-handed. I am right-hand dominant and definitely not very good at anything with my left hand. We decided that we could go and shoot at Mr. Still’s shooting range on his property and see if I could shoot accurately with my left hand.

Friday afternoon, Oct. 25 came around and my father and I drove to the property. We got out and drove to the shooting range. We got my favorite gun, the .243 Ruger American that I have had much success with over the years. My father and I decided that I would shoot at the 50-yard target. The property did not have a stand where you could take a shot over 100 yards.

I sat down on the shooting bench and loaded my gun. I switched the safety off, and I pulled the trigger. My dad, standing next to me, looked in his binoculars at the target and told me that I was practically dead on with the shot. I shot two more times and was almost as accurate as the first one. We decided to sit in the same stand that afternoon so he could help me grab my gun in case a deer came out.

The field we were sitting in that afternoon was a food plot 70 yards straight ahead. There was also a strip to the right of the stand that went about 70 to 80 yards down. The field had two fire lanes that came into the food plot straight ahead of us. The trail we walked in on was behind the stand. Woods surrounded all of the lanes that led into the field. My father and I both believed that this was a good place to hunt because it had plenty of food for the deer, a good wooded area around for the deer, and a perfect-sized area to get a good shot.

We walked to the stand that afternoon. I loaded my rifle after we were seated in the deer stand. A few hours passed by. I looked over into the lane off to the right of the stand. I saw a very solid buck about 50 yards away from the stand. I told my father, and he helped me get my gun up onto the shooting rest. I lined my rifle up on the deer. I took a deep breath, switched the safety off and pulled the trigger.

After I shot, the deer fell on the ground and jumped back up. It ran into the woods to the right of the lane, leaving a cleared area where it fell down. My father and I were very confident that I had hit the deer. We sat in the stand for 20 minutes before going to look for it. The reason for this is because my father says that a common mistake is deer hunters shoot a deer and get too excited. They look for the deer too early and end up having to trail the deer much farther due to the adrenaline that is keeping the deer going, rather than letting the deer lay down and die.

My father called Mr. Still and told him that I had shot a nice buck. Mr. Still said he would come over and bring the tractor to bring the deer back. My father and I went out and searched for a blood trail. We found a little blood but not very much. It reminded me of when I killed my 13-point, 150-inch buck two years before that left no blood trail, and we found it about 20 yards into the woods. I kept telling my father that the deer I shot ran right into the woods and then cut up away from the stand. Eventually he listened to me, and we found the deer. We recovered the deer. Few hunters can say they have killed two deer over 110 inches, shooting one with their left and one with their right.

Sam Norris III, of St. Simons Island, with his Pierce County buck taken Oct. 25, 2019

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