Thomas is my middle son. He will be 24 years old this December. I have written several stories with and including my youngest son, Nikolas, as he has been out hunting most with me but this one will focus only Thomas.
Thomas is a very mild mannered young man. He has been that way ever since his childhood. He really showed no interest in hunting so I did not push it on him. I had taken Thomas to the farm many of times and was providing him bits and pieces of hunting aspects so as to trigger that curiosity… I just thought hunting may not be Thomas’ interest. I waited patiently until that day finally came. It was the spring of 2004 and I was getting my bow and firearms out to review for cleanliness and to provide any needed maintenance. Thomas happened to be in the room and asked me if he could do some hunting with me this year. A small set of fireworks and a parade was my vision in mind at the time because I really didn’t think Thomas was going to be a hunter.
It was time Thomas had his own firearm so I took him to the sporting goods store. Thomas picked out a Mossberg model 500 20 gauge pump shotgun. It came with a deer slug barrel - a good first shotgun for him. We then did all the right things that summer when introducing a person to the sport of hunting. Thomas enrolled and completed his Ohio Safe Hunter certification. He got used to firing his shotgun at different yardage. Thomas turned out to be a pretty darn accurate shooter. I took Thomas rabbit and squirrel hunting as I wanted to see him harvest something. He did just fine.
Fall had come and with it the Ohio November gun season. Now it was time to see what Thomas could do Deer hunting. He was going to miss 2 or three days of high school but that was okay as he was doing excellent with his grades. Monday morning opening came and Thomas was awaken by alarm at 5:00am. He is not a morning person so we almost had to drag Thomas out of bed. We set Thomas up on the stand behind the barn. This is one of the first homemade wooden stands Dad and Brother Dave had erected. It was at the edge of a 5 acre field and was a deer haven for their travel from the neighbor’s property to Dad’s. Thomas was able to shoot a buck or a doe – whatever presented itself to him.
Thomas was in the stand at first light. There is a chair in the stand for comfort. Thomas was in the stand no more than 30 minutes and he was falling asleep. Not having the same 1st day excitement driving the adrenaline through his body like maybe you and me, Thomas decided he was going to lay the chair in front of him so he could hunker down behind it and “rest”. Just as he laid his shotgun down in front of the chair while he was behind it he looked up to see a small but respectable 8 pointer coming down the deer trail that leads to right in front of the stand about 30 yards out. Now Thomas was in a fix. He had to do a lot more maneuvering in order to get a shot off. Thomas waited until the buck put its head down to nibble on some clover before he leaned over the chair and picked up his shotgun. The deer caught no movement and continued feeding. Thomas used the chair now as a steady rest for his shotgun and using his open sights he placed a shot in the shoulder of that buck. The deer went down right where he had shot it – there was no death run as the slug hit its mark with heart and lung being destroyed.
Thomas came down to the barn, the normal meet spot after a hunt was completed. His Uncle Dave and I were already at the barn with our Does. Thomas told his story of his hunt to the both of us. We shook his hand and gave him a (manly) hug of congratulations. I then had Thomas take me back to the deer and guided him through his first field dressing of a deer. Thomas was proud of his first deer and buck. His antlers to this day remain atop Grandpa’s pole barn with a slew of other antlers as a legacy to his hunt and something he may show his son or daughter some day in the future.