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Firsts in the Field: Hunting brotherhood

Rutledge shared many special moments in the woods with family

Firsts in the Field: Hunting brotherhood
Alex Rutledge, of Birch Tree, Mo., is an accomplished hunter of deer, turkey and elk and is a staff member of Rutt & Strutt Outfitters. The winner of several turkey calling titles has appeared on various TV shows and conducts hunting seminars around the country. He was inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame in 2007. Here is his best recollection of his first deer:

The experience that really sticks out in my mind, the very first one, would be hunting with my daddy and my brother. We were walking -- we were actually going on a squirrel hunt -- and I had an encounter with a deer so I shot at it, but I missed that deer.

That was my first real encounter to shoot at one, but to actually sit down and hunt a deer and experience it was when I was probably 13. We were sitting on a crossing and we were making drives and my brothers let me out by myself.

I was at a very young age for this, but there I was at a crossing by myself. They were making their drive and a deer came out at the edge of the pond. I shot it twice with a 30-30 lever-action Marlin and dropped him right there in his tracks.

It was a spike buck. I'll never forget it. It was like the first step into manhood. I can reflect back to many memories with my brothers and my dad hunting.

One of the things I won't forget was one time we were running our coyote dogs. I had these old cheap cowboy boots. You may remember that, too. They were real thin, not even real leather, and my feet got soaking wet and it was real cold.

My brother, Larry, took away from the coyote race to stop and build a fire, and it was raining. He built me a fire -- I was like five years old -- and took my boots off and my socks. It quit raining. He made me a lean-to and hung my socks over that fire and put my feet by it. Then he said, "Now, son I'll be right back. Wait right here."

He was gone 30 minutes to an hour and I was scared to death at five years old. But he came back and I'll never forget him putting my socks back on me, my boots were dry by that time, and just showing me the love.

Those are the memories that stick in my mind. I want everybody to know, the thing about hunting is it's not always about the kill, or the biggest deer, the biggest gobbler, or biggest bass,  whatever. It's about the memories and relationships that are formed with two brothers, or a father and son, or two buddies, or a father and daughter, whatever it may be, that's what hunting is really about.

It's not about this competitiveness, even though I'm competitive, but really the thing that sticks out more in my mind is the love that I got to experience with my family.

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