Editor's note: To accompany Deer Camp '09, we've asked athletes, prominent figures and outdoorsmen to relate their first deer kill .
Harold Knight and his partner, David Hale, were among the first call-makers to produce calls for a range of game animals and wildfowl.
Knight, of Cadiz, Ky., grew up hunting squirrels, rabbits and waterfowl in the area now known as the "Land Between the Lakes" sandwiched between Kentucky and Barkley Lakes. His hunting career took a dramatic turn on a late fall day in 1958, however, when he was presented with his first shot at a whitetail buck.
"That first buck I killed was also the first deer I ever took a shot at," Knight said. "It was in November and I was just barely old enough to be trusted with gun, but back then boys hunted and were expected to bring home something to eat.
"The five-point I shot was probably an 18-month-old deer, but to me it was a Boone & Crockett. There weren't many whitetails in western Kentucky back then; hunting wasn't legal everywhere. If you saw a buck, you had a good day; if you got a buck, you had a super day.
Knight was hunting that day with a Remington .30-06 pump and a few cartridges he borrowed from a neighbor, Morris Calhoun, who was the Kentucky call-maker's first deer-hunting mentor.
"I carried the rifle and a two-cell flashlight, and I walked about a mile from my house near the Cumberland River in Trigg County to an old field where I had seen a lot of sign," Knight said. "There was a cedar thicket between the field and the woods, and I just stood between two cedars. I remember it was very cold and as still as a graveyard. About an hour before sundown, I started hearing deer walking down the hill out of the woods toward the field."
As the deer approached Knight from behind him and out of sight, they would jump the old fence at the edge of the field, and that was his cue that he might get a shot.
"I saw a doe and a yearling first, and that was bad enough, but when the buck came along my heart near about beat right out of my chest," he said. "I made myself settle down and not think about anything but doing what I went there to do. He was about 40 yards away when I shot him and he didn't go far."
The next problem for Knight to solve was how to get the buck home. In the days before ATVs, such a job usually took a lot of elbow grease, especially for a 14-year-old boy. Knight walked back to his house in the cold darkness and called a couple of older friends. They came with a truck and the trio dragged the buck out to the road and loaded him up.
Though a young buck with a small basket rack, Knight's whitetail caused quite a stir in the community. His hunting exploits have had similar effects on many outdoorsmen over the years since.
"When I think back on it, I believe that there were a lot better bucks near my home, but at the time I didn't have any idea about how to hunt them," Knight said. "I wish I knew then what I know now about hunting deer. Sad to say that I don't have a picture of that first buck, but I never even thought about it at the time. I have him memorized in my head, though."