March 4, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
LITTLE ROCK — Each year, we hear hundreds of tales about a youngster’s first deer, turkey, squirrel or duck, and there’s never a single instance where a smile doesn’t cross our face at the AGFC to hear the news of today’s youth picking up the wholesome activity of enjoying the outdoors. In fact, the AGFC has a series of certificates available for proud new hunters to display when they take their first animal, be it a deer, duck, squirrel or fish.
One story, spurred by these certificates struck a different kind of chord with the staff of Arkansas Wildlife magazine. The hunter bagging his first deer was no youngster, but he was just as proud as anyone who received a “First Deer” certificate that year. The following article appeared in the March/April 2018 issue of Arkansas Wildlife magazine. Visit www.arkansaswildlife.com to learn more about the magazine and how to subscribe.
‘Maybe Next Year’ Finally Arrives
77-Year-Old Hunter Ecstatic After First Deer
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,” Goza said. “But I always say, maybe next year, maybe next year.”
“Next year” finally arrived for Goza on a cold morning.
“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.”
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 thought: “Oh, no.” But after a few yards, the deer dropped near a creek.
“I was happy, really happy, honestly happy,” he exclaimed with 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 60s that the chance for a deer arrived. He now lives with his youngest daughter and son-in-law in Louann (Ouachita County) 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.”