I WAS SUCCESSFUL the opening morning of deer season this year. At 7:30, a buck, which carried the funkiest set of antlers of any buck I have ever killed, was hot on the heels of a doe when he crossed my path, not the first of his breed to let lust be his ultimate downfall.

That opening morning, featuring a temperature reading in the low 20s, was friendly to an aging hunter who would, to be quite honest, rather be warm and comfortable and go home “buck-less” rather than shivering and suffering with a thermometer showing zero or even colder.

When that zero reading materialized the next morning, I was happier than ever that I didn’t even have to think about sitting on a miserably cold deer stand for perhaps many hours. Truth is, I wouldn’t have done it. Warm blankets win out over frigid deer stands any day.

But back to opening day. As every hunter knows, firing a shot that brings down a buck is not the end of a deer hunt, but rather the beginning. And for those of you who are the slightest bit squeamish or perhaps just plain don’t want to know what follows a successful shot, you might want to wait until next week to read my next column.

For those of you who continue to read, this column, I believe, is more important than any story I might tell about all the details surrounding the hunt itself. The rest of this missive tells the story of what remains of the hunt or as Paul Harvey put it “The rest of the story.”

You see, I am a hunter, a hunter from the good old days. When I began deer hunting, there were — gasp — no such things as cellphones, trail cams, downloadable images of the forest, GPS units and all other such gadgets.

There was no polypro, modern synthetics, Thinsulate™-filled boots or other such clothing designed to keep hunters comfortable no matter the weather conditions.

When I started deer hunting, I wore a hand-me-down pair of wool Melton pants over cotton long johns and blue jeans. I wore a cotton weave long-sleeve top we called, laughingly as I look back, insulated underwear. I usually piled on a couple of sweaters over which I wore a hand-me-down red winter coat which had been worn pretty threadbare by that time. My boots had no insulation. They were four-buckle rubber overshoes which I wore without shoes, but rather with three pairs of wool socks covering my feet.

I carried a small container of strike-anywhere matches, which probably don’t even exist anymore, a compass and a small wad of paper which was meant for the business of starting a fire or, in some cases, used for another type of business, if you get my drift.

That’s how the deer hunt was for me in my formative years. My, how things have changed. Though I am rather illiterate when it comes to electronic gadgets, I do carry a simple flip phone on which I can place or receive calls, but do nothing else. I hunt from a pop-up blind and use a padded folding stool rather than a cold, hard stump or wooden milk crate for a seat.

There have been other things that have changed for me as I hunt deer, but one thing remains the same. I still have to finish the hunt once I have a buck on the ground.

And here comes what some might term the squeamish part. I am a hunter. I am an American native, coming from a family on my grandma Maines’ side that has been in what would become the United States since the very early 1700s.

Like the American Indian natives, I hunt because it is a traditional way of life for me. In my earlier years, it was of the utmost importance that I do my best, which more often than not was not good enough, to help put food on the table for my family.

I hunted not only because a love of the hunt was instilled in me from my very, very early years on, but because my family needed the meat. Like the American Indian natives, my family utilized practically everything that could serve a useful purpose from the deer we killed.

We butchered our own deer, getting every ounce of meat from the carcass that we could and that is still true for me today. Grandpa Maines made some wonderful knives, using deer antlers for handles. My mother, my aunt Betty and Grandma Maines cut and sewed gloves and chopper mitts from hides Uncle Neal had tanned. Nothing was wasted from any deer we killed. For me, that is still true today.

I will tell you that shooting a buck is the easy part of the hunt. Quite possibly the most disagreeable part comes next, when a successful hunter must gut his deer. Just like filleting a northern pike, gutting a deer is a necessary part of the hunt.

I no longer save the heart and liver from the bucks I kill as we used to do with every deer we killed, my cholesterol is off the charts without pills, but when I move on to the butchering part of the hunt, I still use every bit of meat I can get off the deer.

Back straps and tenderloins are the best parts of course, but roasts, steaks and even stew meat picked apart and painstakingly sliced from even the toughest cuts of meat go in my freezer. I do all my own butchering, mostly the way my mother taught me while using a few of what I like to think of as improved methods thrown in for good measure.

I save a small portion of the rib cage for a meal, but I happily hang the bulk of the ribs on a tree for chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers and other birds to feast on while my wife and I watch from our dining room table.

Killing a buck may be the highlight of a deer hunt, but the most satisfying part is doing what hunters have been doing for untold numbers of centuries and that is taking proper care of the animal all the way through the gutting, butchering and packaging for the freezer processes.

It was the way of the great majority of hunters in my generation and those who came before, and it still is for me whenever I am fortunate enough to kill a buck. No true hunter would have it any other way.