Tuesday, November 17, 2009 Updated: August 18, 5:18 PM ET
Hunting a hit with Braves' Chipper Jones
By Melanie Jarrett ESPNOutdoors.com
Editor's note: To accompany Deer Camp '09, we've asked athletes, prominent figures and outdoorsmen to relate their first deer kill .
Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones is one of the most popular players in baseball and he has the talent to back it up. The 16-year veteran and six-time All-Star holds a career .307 batting average, has earned two Silver Slugger awards (1999 and 2000) and was named National League MVP in 1999. But Jones is also an avid outdoorsman with property in Oklahoma and Texas that includes an affiliation with the Double Dime Ranch, a working game ranch in South Texas.
Buck Commander Chipper Jones sits with his trophy.
Jones sat down with ESPN Outdoors to reflect on his early hunting experiences and the important role it plays in his life.
ESPN.com: Tell me about the first deer hunt that you remember going on as a kid.
Chipper Jones: I hunted from the time I was very young. We had a hunting club about five minutes from my house. We would only dog hunt.
My dad had these unbelievable Walker hounds that were black and tan. They were pets to me, but they could really trail and run deer. It was very exciting.
I was probably 7 years old and we were riding down the dirt road in our hunting club. My dad told me he saw a deer in a field. We jumped out of the truck and he looked through his scope and told me it was a spike.
He told me to get out and rest the gun on the truck. I shot and hit him despite all the shaking! It was an unbelievable feeling and I was hooked for life.
ESPN.com: Who taught you to hunt?
Jones: My dad taught me to hunt. I guess I owe him a lot, because he taught me to play baseball, too.
ESPN.com: Why do you love hunting?
Jones: It's my solitude. There's nothing better than climbing into a tree with my bow and arrow. It's really therapy to me, because I know there are no crowds, no traffic and nothing but me and a huge buck.
ESPN.com: How often do you get to hunt with the MLB season being so long?
Jones: I start hunting immediately. Within the first week of being off, I take a trip with my wife, hang with my kids for some much needed dad time, and then we're off hunting.
I'm actually on the way to Texas with two of my sons now for a hunting trip with their grandma and grandpa. They love it. I hunt from October through January pretty continuously, stopping only to spend time with the family, workout and play golf.
ESPN.com: How important is hunting in your life?
Jones: It's extremely important to me. It's my time to just "be." I get to be one of the guys again. I am no different than any other guy in the woods when I'm hunting. It's a feeling I miss during the season and will always treasure.