"Son, this is it, or not at all," Ron Goza told his son-in-law seconds before downing his first buck ever this past season.
You're never too old to harvest your first deer, as Ron Goza proved late last year.
Goza is 77, and the button buck he took recently allowed him to receive the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's certificate for "My First Deer."
"I've hunted with my son-in-law the past few years and tried to get one and just never did, year after year, just never did. But I always say, maybe next year, maybe next year," he said.
"Next year" finally arrived for Goza on a cold morning a few weeks back. "I was out there again with my son-in-law and I told him when we saw a deer, 'Son, this is it, or not at all.' About two seconds later, I took the shot."
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Goza says he fired a shot from his .30-30 rifle that appeared to pass through one shoulder of the buck and out the other. The deer began to run. Goza's first thoughts: "Oh, no." But then after a few yards, the deer dropped near a creek.
"I was happy, really happy, honestly happy," he exclaimed with such excitement apparent in his voice even a few weeks after the event.
Goza said he grew up getting to hunt some with his grandfather, but mostly for squirrels around his native Cleburne County.
His granddad let him hunt with a .22 rifle. He remembered later taking three squirrels on one trip with a single-shot 12-guage.
But he said he never had a chance for a deer when he was younger. He says it wasn't until he was in his early 60's that the chance for a deer arrived. He now lives with his youngest daughter and son-in-law in Louann, in southern Arkansas, where this deer was taken.
"I've just enjoyed it, I love hunting, just love it very much," Goza said. "This looks like it was a young deer, really. It was a good, nice-sized deer. The meat was real tender. Our pastor and my son-in-law dressed it and I've got it in my freezer, though we ate some already.
"I'll be looking for the big buck next year. But this was a dream come true. I couldn't hardly believe it, that I actually got one, I really got one."
Hunters of all ages can memorialize the unforgettable experience of a first big hunting or fishing moment with a full-color AGFC certificate: first deer, first fish, first turkey and first duck.
Visit www.agfc.com/freepubs, scroll to the bottom and choose the certificate you want to display to commemorate the accomplishment. Fill out the Portable Document File (.pdf) online and print on your color printer, or download the photo placement version to customize the certificate with an image of the lucky hunter and their harvest.
Editor's Note: This article by Jim Harris is published here with permission from Arkansas Game and Fish Commission