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Bass boat to buck

Editor's note: To accompany Deer Camp 2010, we've asked athletes, prominent figures and outdoorsmen to relate their first deer kill.

Hank Parker is a household name in the outdoors world, from winning two Bassmaster Classics and an Angler of the Year to his fishing and hunting shows over the past 26 years.

The all-around outdoorsman from Maiden, N.C., won Classics in 1979 and 1989 and for years has hosted "Hank Parker's Outdoors Magazine." His current show, "Hank Parker 3-D," focuses on his hunting exploits with his sons, Hank Jr. and Billy, nicknamed "Catfish." They also have a mini-show on ESPN2, "Hunt Like a Parker."

While he grew up fishing, he didn't kill his first deer till later in life, but he fondly recalls one of his first hunting experiences that helped shaped his life and lead to his success in the field.

It was with his father on his father's property down in McRae, Ga.

"You go back and it can be hard to remember your very first hunt, but I hunted with my dad. We were down in Georgia at my grandfather's land and they had fox squirrels," Parker said. "I had never seen a fox squirrel in my life. They were gigantic.

"I had heard stories about them, so to me this is like a big Boone and Crockett deer, you know, a big deal to kill a fox squirrel. I actually ended up killing a pair of fox squirrels."

The young Hank Parker desperately wanted to have them mounted to show his first trophies. But he said his father told him they didn't have the money as he tried to let Hank down easy.

"My dad had snuck and he had them mounted and gave them to me for my birthday," he said.

Parker's first deer didn't come until he was almost 25 years old. He said he was spending most of his time bass fishing and that's why he didn't get his first until "I was an old man already."

He had told a friend at church that every time he fished an area Lake Wateree in South Carolina he saw deer swimming. His hunter friend mapped the area and thought the game management area would be perfect.

"He got me all fired up about going," Parker said. " I kept telling him every time I would be down there fishing I'd see these deer swim the river in this area, so he looked at a map and he said, 'Wow, nobody can get to that area by walking.' It was on public land, but we went in by bass boat."

Parker and his friend both came back with really nice deer, he said, a real bass boat to buck bonanza.