I think the first time I saw a deer I was on a schoolbus when I was maybe 8 or 9. They were spooked and bounding away from the road and I shouted "DEER DEER! WHITETAILED DEER!" I was a deer nerd born from that moment forward. I asked for a deer call for christmas, bought a rattle bag and doe can with money made from chores. I dreamed of getting to hunt. I bought a popup blind when I was 14, my dad got me camo at some point which i still use. I remember the first deer i saw on my first scout. This was long before i was allowed to hunt. I would sit and see things if i was lucky.. I bought a cheap rifle when i turned 18 and hit the woods that year. Never saw a thing. About 4 years later i had the opportunity to hunt a nice farm, and my friend who set me up with the farm encouraged me to pass on a long tined 5pt that strolled out easily to corn. I passed as he insisted. And the rest of the 2 weeks i spent on that farm i never saw a thing in range except a doe on the last evening that busted me. I hunted hard and ate tag soup. That next year i took a buck, my very first deer. A nice 10pt with symmetrical split brows. I think 14 years after I saw those deer on a bus ride. I met my hunting mentor before those two seasons on a farm, and he is an aged man but a lifelong sportsman, anything you can do outdoors he has done. And has watched the deer come to the county and establish themselves and hunted them when the season opened. He has been a diehard deerhunter since the beginning. And he will never quit.. He said something to me one day that I will never forget and that was There is nothing pretty about a dead deer. And its true. They can be impressive for whatever they were, however big or freakish or brutish. But a buck in full rut swollen and mean, at the edge of a field scouting keenly for a doe, a big doe wandering the woods and grazing with her fawns, an ignorant spike aimlessly walking the woods trying to figure it all out and not quite figuring YOU out before confusedly toddling off. How they appear out of thin air, wander past without making a sound. Their movement, their pauses, the stomps and struts. There is just something about them that to me makes them like no other animal in the woods. They are the spirit of the forest. And i go to the woods, and i admire it, its a beautiful thing. But its only part of why im there, and the other part is what sends a bullet downrange and destroys it. It breaks the silence, orphans the fawns, runs blood across the leaves grass and trees. And at the end of the trail is the shell of that animals spirit. And i do what hunters do, i cut it apart. Later I pull the hide off and take what I need from it, and the rest goes back to the woods to feed whatever needs the rest. That beautiful animal all turned into a pile of rot and plastic packages. But it feeds me, and my family. It reduces demand on other animals in commercial operations. It provides. But its not beautiful. Im not sure I can ever get the two sides of me to understand eachother. Its like admiring art and destroying it to make a fire. I think many hunters may know what i am talking about. And hunting to me is a funny dance, the whole picture doesnt make much sense. The deer to me is the spirit of the woods, and after I pull up the gun it just becomes the spirit of survival. And its a good thing, its cause for celebrating, but it isnt beautiful.