The Remington 740 Woodsmaster served Nolan Raymond's grandfather as a reliable deer rifle for many years.
Bangor Daily News Outdoors contributor Nolan Raymond of Hermon harvested his first buck on Oct. 27. He shot it using his grandfather's trusty deer hunting rifle. Credit: Courtesy of Kent Raymond

This year, I was lucky enough to tag a deer on opening day. It came as a bit of a surprise, given my lack of success the past few seasons.

I woke up about 8:30 a.m. Saturday. This wasn’t a great start to the season. I had set my alarm for 5 a.m. and an early morning adventure but overslept.

I considered my options, and decided to head for the woods after lunch. Rather than my treestand in a dense tract of softwood, I planned to hike to a pop-up blind we set on a recently cut meadow.

I know that deer often come into fields to feed before dusk. Plus, with a doe tag, I was prepared to take any deer that showed itself, as long as it was decent sized.

A short hike from the vehicle brought me to the blind. Equipped with a folding chair and a bipod-style gun rest, I settled into the blind to wait. I only opened the window facing the field to reduce the light in the blind.

With more windows open, a deer can catch your silhouette in the window and be spooked. With stealth in mind, I went for a move any logical hunter might try: take out my phone and eat a little snack. What better way to stay occupied?

As the sun began to get closer to the horizon, the field was bathed in a golden light. It was really warm out, and everything seemed perfect. As if on cue, I was set on alert by the distinct sound of crunching leaves.

I wasn’t sure if it was a deer or a trophy-sized gray squirrel (they can sound like 200-pounders, you know), so I got my gun up to my shoulder and on the rest, just to be ready.

Speaking of my gun, it’s worth noting its interesting story. It’s a Remington 740 Woodsmaster manufactured in the late 1950s. It belonged to my mother’s father and was his reliable deer rifle for a lot of years.

I believe it also accompanied him on a successful moose hunt. It’s chambered in .308, and has been an awesome rifle for me. I added a scope rail and a Bushnell 3-9 x 40 scope for the extra confidence with long-range shots.

It was tough to tell what direction the deer was coming from. The canvas blind made the sound impossible to trace, and I wasn’t going to risk opening another window. I stayed focused on the area in front of me, with the hopes that the culprit would come around.

Sure enough, it did. About 100 yards away, a deer stepped into the edge of the clearing to the right. I slowly spun and got my crosshairs just behind the shoulder. I could clearly identify antlers and it appeared to be a decent-sized animal, so I pulled the trigger as he approached and turned broadside.

In my excitement, I made calls to my brother, who was hunting nearby, and my father. My brother agreed to hike my way and I said I’d stay put. The deer had fallen a short distance off the edge of the field, and my brother stumbled upon it on his way to the blind.

After taking photos, we field dressed the buck — my first one. We used a Jet Sled to haul the six-pointer out to the truck and took a trip to the tagging station.

It was a really unique experience to shoot this deer with a little bit of family heritage involved. My grandfathers had coincidentally owned identical Remington 740s, and hunting with the vintage gun is special.

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Nolan Raymond, Outdoors Contributor

Nolan Raymond, a junior at Hermon High School, enjoys Maine’s hunting, fishing and trapping opportunities. He is involved in Dirigo Search and Rescue as well as Boy Scouts of America. He also plays the...