Welcome back Weekend Hunters!
It feels great to be back in the woods and the blogs. Hopefully you bow hunters have been able to have some early success, or at least haven’t fallen out of the tree stand.
I figured for the first post of the 2013-2014 season, I would start it off right–youth hunt success! You see, in Michigan they do a few things right and one of those things are offering a 2 day weekend hunt for youth that allows the kids to get out in the woods with their mentor and really learn the ropes–or at the very least–hear a hundred and one old hunting stories that we all know are too good to be true.
You may remember my nephews from my earlier post, Youth of the Nation, and One small step, and for this youth hunt, I was able to take my oldest nephew out for his first deer hunting experience where he was the one squeezing the trigger as his heart was racing.
Really it was an all American Weekend for the kid. He started off by playing football, where he scored two touchdowns, came back and had some pizza, then got dressed up and hit the woods. It was still relatively warm, so our gear was light and he just made sure he had enough cover on to stay warm and seen.
We were fortunate enough to get permissions to hunt in a set of woods that butted up to a hay field. I have seen deer moving from the woods to the field quite regularly throughout the year. Of course with the blood pumping and excitement levels at the maximum–my nephew had a hard time walking out to our spot quietly.
But we made it to the spot and settled in like a couple of ranger snipers just waiting for a target to come into view. We didn’t have much luck the first few 20 minutes and so after about half an hour, and some whittling (he thought it was a good way to pass time), we decided to walk into the woods where we saw the deer run into earlier.
Sure enough we just crossed the tree line and there were two does standing about 20 yards away from us. We both immediately froze. the does didn’t seem to sense us quite yet. As we stood there, there came motion about another 20 yards to the left of us. As the movements got closer, we could see the antlers. Spencer removed the safety and started to raise the rifle, but the buck got the drop on us, gave a quick grunt, and the herd was off. At first we couldn’t tell, but there were 5 deer in that small group and we knew by the end of the night there would be one less.
Knowing that their exit route was always through the hayfield towards the west, we bee-lined it out of the woods and got set-up on the edge of field just under some branches that hung low enough to conceal us. We must have waited five minutes–which of course seemed like an hour–before I thought we missed them and they had made their escape on us.
Spencer didn’t give up as easily though and wanted to walk up the tree line a little farther. We started creeping up the edge and out of the corner of my eye about 70 yards away, I saw the buck take his first few steps out of the woods into the field. I froze and so did my nephew, sensing that I had stopped walking. I guided his eyes to the buck and told him to take the safety off and put a scope on the deer.
As I looked through the binoculars, I could see the antlers and feel the blood rushing through my veins. The buck was frozen in the open, with his nose high in the air trying to catch our scent.
“Take the shot when you are ready.” I said as quietly as I could.
I could see this young boy trying to steady the rifle as much as he could from a standing postion. As the rifle swayed I became more and more nervous that our window would close. Then I saw it. Without even needing to be told,
Spence went down to one knee.
Steadied the rifle,
Took a deep breath,
and squeezed the Trigger.
It only took fractions of a second for me to feel the shot go off and just like we drew up…the deer was down.
We acted like a couple of little kids who just got exactly what they wanted from Santa. Yelling, high fiving, and hugging.
As we approached I saw a beautiful 8 point buck, but even more importantly, I saw a youth who was now hooked on being outdoors and I realized that this is one of those defining moments that he would never forget–even if some the details change (you know, like the shot was 100 yards, in the rain, behind a tree, with no scope).
You truly don’t know happiness until you see it in the eyes of the youth.
Enjoy the hunt,