I remember the early mornings and late afternoons sitting in the stand with my dad. Watching and observing his every action and learning from the advice he had to give. Sitting side by side looking down lanes in attempt to spot the deer before him. I sat in the stand with my Remington 20 gauge youth shot gun and waited with anticipation for a deer to present a shot. At that time I had yet to harvest my first deer and was willing to take the first deer that came within range.
Just to give a little back ground information at the time I was nine years old and had yet to take a deer. It had been about a year since I had even attempted a shot at a deer, a small doe that I missed with my single shot 410.
Flash forward to the day I shot my first deer. That morning my dad and I got up well before the sun and he woke me with a cup of hot chocolate and asked if I wanted to go hunting. Now typical nine year old boys would moan and roll back over in bed but I jumped at the chance to spend the morning in the woods with my dad. I got right out of bed and was ready in what seemed to be seconds and I walked quickly into the living room zipping up my coveralls. My dad sat on the couch drinking his coffee as I joined drinking my hot chocolate. We finished up the morning beverages and he turned to me and asked if I was ready? “Yes Sir” as I stood and started to the door. He stopped me and asked “Where’s your gun?” I was so excited that I had almost left without it.
As we arrive to the farm I see a few small fields and a four to five year old cut over that backed up to a creek (at the time it was just woods to me). This was the farm that I had seen my dad and his friends take some nice deer from and I became instantly excited. We step out of the truck and place our marker on the stand we will be hunting that morning. We walked into the woods and took our stand. We sat there that morning and saw several doe but none close enough that I could attempt a shot. As it got later in the morning we began to gather our things and headed back to the truck. A little discouraged I climbed in and we headed home.
Later that afternoon I asked if we were going back to hunt that same farm. My dad replied “if you want to go we can.” I couldn’t believe he asked that, that’s like asking a kid if he wants candy, of course I wanted to go back. I asked if I could hunt a stand by myself and my dad said he wasn’t sure if he was ready to let me hunt alone just yet but he would think it over.
When the time came to get ready I noticed my dad had his Remington 700 , I remember thinking I could kill anything with that. He said he was going to let me have my first solo hunt and he had an idea of where to hunt. We went to the same farm but marked off two stands on a different part of the farm. I was so excited to be on my first solo hunt. I was taking stand number 2 ½ and my dad would be just up the path not even two hundred yards in stand number 2.
I climbed up the stand and got settled in a ladder stand that rested up against a tree on the edge of the path. Once I was seated I gave my dad the thumbs up and he returned the gesture. He then walked past the stand and it was official I was on my first solo hunt. I remember looking just to the left in a small grass field that was just off the path and to my right a wooded bottom that lead down the creek. I remember hearing so much activity in the woods and my heard would start to race and I would begin to breath heavy. I would peer into the woods and I would see a squirrel scavenging for acorns. I would wind down and continue to look around remembering everything my dad had taught me. I sat there for what seemed an eternity when all of a sudden I noticed moving through the grass a GIANT buck.
About forty yards away was an eight point buck walking across the grass field and my mind went blank. I instantly began breathing heavy and my heart was beating out of my chest. I was almost certain that the buck would hear it. I raised my Remington shot gun and pulled the trigger. BBBOOOOOMMMM…… the deer jumps and starts to run……Rachet……BBBBOOOOOMMM….. Still running…… Rachet……… BBBOOOOMMM….I had let off three shots a slug followed by two shots of buck shot before the deer disappeared into the woods. I sat in the stand shaking and trembling as I was filled with both excitement and doubt. Did I get him I asked myself? Why did he run I must have missed!!! I sat in the stand and waited for my dad to arrive as I was sure he had herd my shots and was on the way. I waited for what must have been days, but in actuality was only minutes for my dad to arrive. As he made his was to my stand he asked “what did you shoot?” “A BUCK” as I motioned with my hands to show the size of his antlers. I climbed down to show him where the deer was when I shot. Still uncertain if I had even hit the deer I walked him to where I remember seeing the deer. My dad looked for a second and pointed to the ground… there was blood! I had hit the deer, I was so excited as we tracked the deer. We walked ten yards and there was more blood this time much more. My dad looked into the edge of the woods and pointed as he saw the deer. I ran over with excitement and grabbed the horns and I pulled the head up to display the rack. I looked up at my dad and he was smiling as he gave me a high five. My first deer and it was a buck, a big buck. Now the deer scored out at 95 which by all means isn’t going to break any records, but for a nine year old on his first solo hunt he was the brute of the woods.
Looking back that was eighteen years ago and I still remember it like it was yesterday. My dad has since passed and I only have the memories of all the great hunts. To this day every time I sit in a stand I remember all the things that were passed on to me from my dad. Five months ago I became a father, my first child, my son. I now know some of the feelings my dad had to have felt. Now its my turn to pass along the information and wisdom to my son. I will tell him the stories of all the great hunts that his grandpa and dad had and how that everything I am teaching him was learned from my dad. The story of my first solo hunt is proof that the wisdom works and nothing is better than a father and son spending time together outdoors.Chad