My son's first deer
At 12 years of age I was as excited as my son Luke was about the first hunt of the season. I decided I would take my son to a local ranch near Whitehall Montana near the Jefferson River. In this area it was legal to take up to 6 Whitetail doe's and success is high. I didn't want to introduce Luke to high energy climbs for Elk and Mule Deer because frustration and disappointment can way heavy on a young boys dreams. I simply told him it would be a great experience to harvest a deer this way and even though it might look and sound easy, you still have to do everything right. So on opening day Luke and I waited for the evening hunt when the whitetails come out into the fields to graze. We walked into an area the rancher pointed out and simply told us to just sit and wait along the field. Luke and I spotted a nice dead fall cottonwood and cleared a spot to sit comfortably. We had crossed a small stream to get there and bent over low - sneaking to the dead fall we saw from the road. The sun was low in the western sky and sillouted Table Top Mountain in the Highland Mountain Range just to our West. The field of grass was surrounded by Willow and Cotton Wood and we had the whole area to ourselves. No traffic, no noises, just quiet and my son and I. I whispered to Luke to watch the far Willow line and to not move about. If you need to move I said, just do it slowly like in slow motion. I told him that deer will often just stop short of entering the opening and that you might not even see them but they are there looking and movement will give you away. I whispered that I was going to check an adjacent field and would be back in about 15 minutes. Be still and watch I said. I crawled away with about 15 to 20 minutes of direct sunlight, hoping to be back for the evening activities. The stream we crossed was actually the remains of a stream channel and the bottom was a good 5 feet below the ground where we sat. I simply stooped over and hustled to thicker timber before emerging to peer into the adjacent field. As I looked about I decided to go a look at a corner that was hidden from view when I heard the report of my 243. I just smiled and waited a few minutes before emerging into the field my son was watching. I thought, I wish I hadn't gone, but then I thought, I'm glad I did. He was alone and fired his first round at what I hoped would be his first deer. As I cleared the timber about 100 yards to the east and north of where Luke was, I saw him standing up outside the Cotton Wood dead fall and in the field. I could feel the eyes that were glued on me and I just stood there staring back with a little grin on my face. I could feel his gaze and in a sudden moment he burst full speed in my direction. Man that kid can run I thought. That 100 yards melted away and in his face I could see the intensity of "I got one dad"! When he got there he said, I think I got one! I said well where was the deer when you shot and he said over there on the Willow line. I said, lets go look. As we walked over in that direction he told me the deer ran into the woods behind us but I said if you didn't see it fall then we need to look at where you shot at the deer to see if we could find hair or blood. Since we were in a fairly large field Luke wasn't sure where the deer had been when he fired. Then the first lesson came. I explained to Luke how important it was to make sure you make some kind of mark so you can always go and check to see if there was a hit and that it can make the difference between finding and loosing an animal. We couldn't locate the spot and so then I said where did the deer run. Luke pointed and said over there by the small group of trees. I asked, did the deer run to the left or right of them and he said he wasn't sure. Lesson # 2 kicked in. I explained again why it was really important to mark a spot where you last saw the animal or where it entered the timber or brush because that's where you really want to start looking for blood. Luke looked a little frustrated for not knowing these things but I said that all was ok and that he should go and look for the deer. He promptly left in the direction he thought the deer went and in just a few seconds hollered here it is dad! I walked over and there was nice healthy doe that only went about 80 yards and piled up just beyond the small group of trees. As we looked at the deer, I said to Luke, tell me the story. Luke took a deep breath and then said, just after you left me dad I thought I could see movement in the Willow's but just couldn't make any thing out for sure. It was too dark in the brush and I tried with the scope but really couldn't see good enough and my heart was beating pretty hard. I kept looking in the brush and then I saw two deer walking along the brush to the left of where I was looking. I put the rifle on the dead fall and started sighting in. The scope cross hairs were jumping around allot and I just couldn't keep the cross hairs behind the front shoulder and pretty soon the two does were in the timber where this one ran. I was thinking the whole time that you were going to scare the deer away. After those deer left I was mad and thought, man I missed my first chance at a doe. Then when I looked back there were two more deer that were walking along the same route as the others and so I again put the cross hairs on the deer and I was still shaking so bad I said to myself, I can't shoot like this! (I chuckled a little because I new exactly what he experienced. The he said, So I laid the gun down, laid on my back and took about 3 big deep breaths like this. Man this is awesome I thought, he took three big breaths to calm himself! Then he said, I slowly got up again to take aim but the deer were just entering the timber and I couldn't shoot because by the time I settled down the deer were already in the timber. I couldn't believe this was happening he said. So then I looked back and there were two more deer that came out in the same place and were walking the same route as the others! I said to myself, well I better shoot cause this isn't going to keep happening all night! Then I took aim and fired. I saw the deer jump up real high and then it just took off and here it is. Well, that year Luke shot three does and all were nicely placed shots. This year Luke shot his first buck ( a nice 4x4 Whitetail and two more does. I think I have a hunter and it's more fun being with him than it is hunting by myself. That was an awesome trip with my son and wish you and your son have the same.