Thirteen seems to be a lucky number for the Foster boys.
One month before my 13th birthday, I shot the largest blacktail deer my father had ever seen. The buck had gone downhill to the point the antlers had regressed to an incredibly large 2 points. The antlers were so wide and deep that they fit around my chest.
I would have never believed that one month after my own son, Ryan’s, 13th birthday, his first buck would be the biggest whitetail I had ever seen.
The experience not only brought back memories of one of my greatest hunting experiences, but it also gave me one of the most personal moments I have ever had with him.
It was in October of 2008, and I had decided to take Ryan hunting at our cabin in northeast Washington. Since I focus on bowhunting, it was a perfect opportunity to give Ryan all my attention while he hunted with a rifle.
We had been out several days without seeing much, so we decided to look for a doe. We were walking up a trail when Ryan shouted, “Stop! Deer!” In his second breath, he hurriedly yelled, “Six-point!” For you hunters out East, that would be a 12-pointer.
My initial thought was, “Yeah, right. You’ve seen the deer for a whole two seconds, and you already know it’s a 6-pointer?”
Then the monstrous buck ran in front of me and stopped broadside, 20 yards to my left. I glanced over to see Ryan rapidly loading his Ruger .270. I moved forward to give him a clear shot, and my heart dropped into my stomach as the deer took off running.
I kept my eyes on the buck as it ran, silently praying for it to stop. I jumped about a foot in the air at the crack of Ryan’s rifle.
Knowing my son’s experience level, I hoped for a clean miss over the prospect of tracking a wounded animal we might never find. While contemplating those possibilities, the only thing that dropped farther than my heart was my jaw. The big buck dropped dead. The angle of the shot took out all major organs and went on into the spine.
As I stared at the giant buck lying at my feet, I wasn’t sure if I was more proud or amazed at what my son had just accomplished. Ryan had just shot the largest deer ever taken by anyone in our family. The girth on the base of the neck was as large as my waist.
He had also given me a gift: one of the greatest father-and-son moments of my life.
I can hardly wait to see what surprises are ahead when I take him bowhunting next year.
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This article was published in Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.