Mountain Hunter Matt Talks About The Initial Instinct

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I learned how to hunt similar to the evolution of man (a lot of stupid, failed attempts). My parents didn’t hunt. But I feel some are just born with the instinct. You know how some kids instinctively just love to catch anything that moves from the day they can walk? That was me.

 My buddy Brad, older brother and I starting camping together. Being bumbling idiots (kids), we’d try to shoot squirrels and robins with slingshots and rocks. Eventually, Brad's parents gave him a pellet gun, and it was a game changer for us boys. Later on, my parents got me one too—and it was game over. 

I shot my first deer at 16, a 2x3 mule deer. I remembered exactly where I was, which tree I leaned on and even the moment when I pulled the trigger. I had no vehicle at the time, so I hunted on foot with a Winchester Model 70. It was about 4 pm, and I was walking all ‘stealth mode’ behind my parent’s house in Fox Mountain—then to the left, “Holy shit!” 

The buck was bedded down, looking right at me about 30 yards away. At that very moment, I almost couldn't do it. I had almost given up, thinking to myself: “I can’t shoot it, I don’t know what I’m doing.” But then, “Fuck! I didn’t buy all this gear and spend all this time at the shooting range for nothing!”  Taking control of my nerves, I leaned against a tree and took the shot. I looked up, and he was gone.

Matt Wassenaar


Editor's Comments

17 years later, mounted in Matt's office is that first 2x3 mule deer. Since his adolescence days of stomping around in Williams Lake, BC, he’s developed an active passion for the outdoors and the conservation of all things wild. He’s a bona fide mountain hunter (with the constantly bruised or missing toenails to prove it) and a former fly fishing guide.

Matt’s right, some are born with the natural inclination to hunt. As I listened to Matt share his adventure, memories of my wild childhood flooded into me and the pieces started coming together. It brought to mind all those summers spent on my family’s hobby-farm back in Vietnam; running around barefoot, being chased by geese, shooting geckos off the walls, and butchering chickens for lunch. While back home in Canada, on the playground I was always digging holes, building forts, and trapping wasps for the class toad.

That was until city life swallowed me whole at an early age and I had turned my back on true adventure. It took a long time to rediscover those desires again, and while I’m learning much later in life, every step I take towards becoming immersed in nature feels instinctively right.

Knowing Matt and his laundry list of accomplishments has motivated me to run a little faster and train a little harder towards my goals; despite the self-doubt and fear. I wish him the best in his future hunts and curious ventures.

I would love to hear your story about your first harvest, as I have yet to experience mine yet. Connect with me here

Jenny Ly