A Trophy Experience

First deer kill for Rob Keck leads to memories that last a lifetime

A Trophy Experience
Though there's been many deer after his first, Rob Keck says that doe was a trophy experience. (Courtesy Rob Keck)

Rob Keck, the longtime CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation who helped rebuild turkey populations across the U.S., is now Conservation Director on the RedHead Pro Hunting Team at Bass Pro Shops. His work with the NWTF earned him a position among the Hunting's 25 most influential personalities of the 20th Century. Following is his detailed recollection of his first hunt:

In 1962, in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, I was hunting with my dad. You had to wait until you were 12 years old in Pennsylvania before you could hunt, but of course, I went on many hunts before as just an onlooker.

It had snowed that day. Doe season was two days long and followed the regular gun buck season. Dad placed me on the point below some grapevines in about 8 inches of snow, and there was a heavy crust on top of it. When you walked through the snow, it just crunched.

As was so often the case in the opening of that doe season, you could hear those distant shots starting and some of them were close. It was almost like a war, and there it was in Pennsylvania.


All of a sudden, off to my left,  I could hear the crunching of deer coming through that snow. As a kid waiting and wanting to have that very, very first deer, I thought, "Man, the first doe that's in here, I don't care how big she is, I'm gonna get her."


But as I saw them, and they were in the distance, and it was pretty open hardwood below the grapevine tangle that I was in, I noticed the lead doe was a monster. She was coming.

I had a 7.65 Argentine Mauser that we had taken and sporterized. We bought it in military condition for 15 bucks. We had the barrel cut and had the stock cut down. My dad helped me with all that. We put open sights on it. I knew that gun to a "T."

Anyway, she stopped right at 30 steps just slightly downhill, and she was looking all around. You could tell that other hunters had pushed her. When I squeezed that trigger I saw a spray of blood on the white snow as those deer just exploded in every direction.

My eye was on her alone. She turned and went downhill, went about 75 yards. I could see her to the point where she dropped. The adrenaline rush, the excitement that was going through my body at that time was just unreal.


And, of course, Dad was just above me. He stayed there as I went down to look at my trophy. As I was going down, I saw another person that appeared to be a hunter. I didn't see a gun though; he was just walking toward the deer.

I thought it was strange, and so when I got up to the deer, I was so excited and it ended up this fellow was a Pennsylvania game warden. He asked to see my license and then congratulated me on my kill, even helping to fill my tag out.

My dad joined us there and it was quite an experience. It was exciting, but I was thinking, "Oh my gosh, is this guy going to take my deer, my very first deer?"


I can tell you that taking a doe was one of the best things that could have ever happened. I hear a lot of hunters wanting to take their kids out to kill a muy grande to start with.

I think you've got to start at the basement, at the bottom level, so that you've always got something to shoot for, something to look forward to, maybe taking that Boone and Crockett buck some day. I can tell you that thrill, that trophy experience, I think is what we've got to share today.

So many times I think our messages are wrong, that we talk about the trophy animal instead of the trophy experience. Let me tell you, that very first trophy experience will last me for a lifetime.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Lure Lock Options Includes LED Light Boxes & More

Lure Lock Options Includes LED Light Boxes & More

Pro angler Jonathan VanDam showcases new offerings at ICAST 2019, including the ultra-thin, big bait boxes, LED-lighted boxes and backpack-able gear lockers. With Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

Berkley

Berkley's Frittside Crankbaits

World Fishing Network show host Chad LaChance had a chance to visit with legendary crankbait master David Fritts about his new Frittside crankbaits from Berkley. LaChance, host of the Fishful Thinker on WFN, also got a few cranking tips from Fritts, the former Classic and Forrest Wood Cup champion.

Simms

Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor Hoody

John Frazier of Simms Fishing Products helps OSG's Lynn Burkhead understand the new features of the new Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor sun protection hoody.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some great bass pond fishing. Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some...

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies. Panfish

Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers. Striper & Hybrid

3 Deadly Bait Rigs For Stripers

J.B. Kasper

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

 Missouri hunter Tim Phillips is all smiles after using his late grandfather's worn Marlin 30.30 Stories

Grandpa's Gun Tags Giant Buck, Ends Multi-Year Quest

Lynn Burkhead - November 21, 2017

Missouri hunter Tim Phillips is all smiles after using his late grandfather's worn Marlin...

A rimfire, old standard and new import top our list of favorite rifles for coyote hunting 

All Stories

3 Coyote Guns

Brad Fitzpatrick - September 28, 2017

A rimfire, old standard and new import top our list of favorite rifles for coyote hunting All

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck supremacy? Whitetail

The Next ‘Big Tex' for Trophy Bucks?

Jordan Michaels - October 18, 2019

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck...

We Coyote hunters spend a lot of time ringing the dog's dinner bell when we call. But we are Stories

Call Our Complex Coyotes

Brad Fitzpatrick - July 13, 2017

We Coyote hunters spend a lot of time ringing the dog's dinner bell when we call. But we are

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now