Some hunters don’t wait very long to shoot their buck-of-a-lifetime.
They can walk into a movie theater and watch “Bambi,” but they’re not old enough to pass through the turnstile for “The Deer Hunter.” Many couldn’t even see “Avatar” by themselves.
Except for holidays, they can’t take vacations during deer season; can’t even drive themselves to the farm or clubhouse.
They can’t buy guns, can’t afford bows, don’t pay for licenses, and they’ll look at you with vacant eyes under furrowed brows if you ask them about Fred Flintstone or Yogi Bear.
And yet more than 1.7 million of them take — or are taken — to the deer woods each fall. Nationally, that’s about four out of every 100 kids between the ages of 6 and 15.
Almost every year, this magazine devotes a lot of space to young men and women who hunt, often showcasing their first deer. But because some of the finest whitetails felled last season were taken by hunters who will have outgrown their boots and clothes by the time you read this, we decided to go the extra mile.
These are the true (albeit budding) Young Guns, shown with their Bambis, which are sure to make you green with envy.
With less than 10 minutes of legal daylight remaining, Tom Ingles was ready to go home. He and his 14-year-old son, Jake, had seen the largest of three shooter bucks they knew roamed the tract, but the big 12-pointer had been beyond the slug gun’s bite.
Father and son were spending the Saturday of Illinois’ 2009 youth season on a friend’s property in Schuyler County, where trail cameras had photographed three worthy bucks. At about 4 p.m., they’d tucked a pop-up blind under a hedge tree in a fencerow at the edge of a picked bean field.
Along with the too-far 6x6, they’d seen several does and small bucks. None of the deer had been within range, and Tom doubted the animals were going to get any closer.
He’d already packed up their gear and taken one step outside the blind when he glanced up and immediately regretted his decision. A big buck was standing in the fencerow about 80 yards distant. He wanted badly to look at the deer through his binoculars, but all Tom could do was melt a few inches and whisper to Jake.
The boy was already sticking his scoped 20 gauge out of the blind’s window. He knew the drill; he’d been hunting with his father since age 8 or 9.
“All I could do, all I could say at that point, was to ask my son, ‘Is it big enough?’” Tom said. “Three years earlier, Jake had shot a 150-inch 10-pointer. I knew he wanted to hold out for a buck that would score at least in the 130s.”
After the Rushville, Ill., ninth-grader squeezed the trigger, the buck bolted across the field and disappeared into the timber. Because they had no flashlights, the Ingles decided to ease out and return the next morning.
The buck was bigger than either of them realized. The unique 13-pointer was rough-scored at 183 inches.
Another Illinois teenager, Tommy Garfield, christened his bow on Oct. 12 in Pike County. The 15-year-old arrowed his first archery buck, a 15-pointer, about 4 p.m. His taxidermist green-scored it at 177 3/8 inches.
When David Birkett gave his 9-year-old son, Garrett, the okay to shoot the deer eating acorns 55 yards from their treestand, he had no idea it was a buck. And “buck” might well be the understatement of the 2009 season.
It was Oct. 3, the Saturday of Iowa’s youth season. Since the boy had never shot a deer, any legal whitetail would’ve sufficed. And the chance came before 8 a.m.
“Garrett, having just woken up from a nap, was busy checking out every squirrel and bird he heard,” his father said. “He was thinking everything was a deer sneaking in on us ... He was having a hard time sitting still.”
David saw the deer first, but its head was behind a tree.
“I whispered to Garrett, ‘I see a deer.’ He answered in a rather loud voice, ‘WHERE?’ I gave him the stern (shush) sign as I pointed at it before helping him raise the muzzleloader up on the shooting rail,” David said. “I whispered in his ear, reminding him to aim carefully, like we do at the range.”
Garrett took his sweet time, which rattled his dad a bit. But he eventually squeezed the trigger and yelled almost immediately that he “Got it!”
While David was digging in his backpack for the reload kit, his son shouted “IT’S A BUCK!” After looking back at the deer and noticing the enormous rack for the first time, his pawing in the bag grew more frantic.
“Gatorade, cookies, beef jerky, donuts and candy bars were flying everywhere at that point,” David said.
He did manage to find what he needed and restoked the blackpowder gun. Ten minutes later, father and son were on the ground so the kid from Urbandale, Iowa, could seal the deal.
On the second day of Wisconsin’s October youth season, 12-year-old Seth Williams shot what might well have been THE most talked-about whitetail harvested by a youngster in 2009. Photos of Seth and his giant buck in the back of a truck, in front of what appeared to be a Cabela’s store, jammed e-mail inboxes, Internet chat rooms and various big buck trophy galleries for months — although much of the information was false.
For example, the most popular rumor was that the store manager offered them several thousand dollars for the antlers. When they refused, the man supposedly went back inside and called Cabela’s honchos, returning moments later with a much higher and more palatable offer. But like so many such rumors, this one was absolutely false.
Not only have there been no offers to buy the buck’s antlers, but the Williamses also say they would not part with them. The mount (actually two mounts, the other from a handsome 10-pointer Seth shot later) is his 13th birth- day present.
Seth’s 16-pointer is a mainframe 11 — the towering P-2s exceed 15 inches. Its official BTR score is 182 6/8, and the 19 3/8-inch inside spread gives it a composite (true gross) score of 202 1/8.
Fifteen-year-old Caitlin Sudduth shot her buck while hunting with her dad, Mark, after school on Dec. 2. Because she had difficulty walking after anterior cruciate ligament surgery, her father picked her up at Augusta High School and drove straight to their pop-up blind.
“I had to drive the truck back to the road and double-time it back to the blind,” her father said.
“We had planned this hunt — her first — all year. But a month before the season opener, she blew out her ACL playing in a soccer tournament, and two weeks before the season, she had ACL replacement surgery,” Mark explained. “Her leg was in a cast, and she didn’t think she could go hunting. For sure, she couldn’t use the elevated stand.”
Not long after settling in the blind, Caitlin saw the buck and its 24-inch-wide rack and announced she was going to shoot it. One well-placed shot from her mother’s .243 anchored the drop-tined whitetail at 30 yards.
“I didn’t have sons, so my girls have had to do their time in the woods with Dad,” Mark laughs.
Perhaps the largest buck taken by a youngster in 2009 was the 24-pointer that 14-year-old Michaella “Mikie” Monroe shot with her .243 during Kentucky’s two-day (Oct. 10-11) youth season. She was hunting with her father, Paul, in Spencer County when the antlered giant stepped into view 15 minutes before dark at 180 yards. The deer nets 219 5/8 inches by B&C’s yardstick.
Another fine Kentucky whitetail was taken on Thanksgiving Day by 15-year-old Jacob Seaward. He was rifle hunting with his father, Jason, in Christian County, where Jason leases land (they live in Georgia). The buck is a mainframe 10-pointer with a split P-2 and a 2-inch kicker, good enough to exceed the 160-inch mark.
In Ohio, 11-year-old Holden Hemming of Circleville kicked off the Buckeye State’s youth season with a Pickaway County 12-pointer that was green-scored at 184 inches. He was carrying a new single-shot 20 gauge and hunting with his dad when the buck appeared at around 8 a.m. on Nov. 21. His mom, Kim Schneider, says it was Holden’s fourth year to hunt deer.
Twelve-year-old bowhunter Jordan Cissel took two record-book bucks last season in Montgomery County, Md. — a 9-pointer that dressed out at 171 pounds and a drop-tined 12-pointer that has made all of his hunting buddies (and their fathers and grandfathers) drool. The big one’s rack is pushing 160 inches.
According to Jordan’s grandfather, Bob Cissel, the young archer got his first bow license and buck at age 9. The kid averages about five deer a year between the bow and gun seasons.
“Jordan and I hunt about 50 or 60 days a year,” says Bob. “Yes, he goes to school, plays sports and is a regular kid. He just loves hunting and fishing. I suppose that’s my fault. He’s been hunting with me since he was 4 years old.”
Jordan wasn’t the only young hunter to score in Maryland last year. More youngsters and their trophies can be seen here.
Ten-year-old Rylee Detrick won’t soon forget Thanksgiving Day 2009. Her dad, Wade, says the 20-pointer from Ames, Okla., green-scored 171 4/8 inches and weighed 168 pounds, field-dressed.
Rylee completed her hunter education course the previous August. She says all the sweating during bow season and shivering during the rifle season were worth taking a buck bigger than her dad’s best.
For the fourth year in a row since he began hunting, 14-year-old Spencer Forsythe of Brookville, Pa., got his deer on opening day.
The 14-pointer scores 170 7/8 as a Semi-irregular in the BTR, and that’s not counting the 19-inch inside spread!
TIP OF THE ICEBERG
These bucks represent a sampling of the cream of the crop. Many others, along with scores of smaller bucks and does, were taken by youngsters this past season.
New surveys are being prepared now that will shed more light on youth participation in deer hunting. Hopefully, the dedication of hunters, conservation organizations, schools and state wildlife agencies will show just how far we’ve come in sharing the thrill of outdoors pursuits with the next generation.
It’s been seven years since the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department published a report detailing the results of a three-year nationwide survey presented during the 7th Governor’s Symposium on North America’s Hunting Heritage. Even then, before many states stepped up hunter education efforts and expanded youth hunts, most kids supported the notion of hunting.
Mark Duda, whose Virginia-based market research firm completed the study of youth attitudes toward hunting and fishing for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, debunked the myth that kids are picking up anti-hunting messages from school.
“The information we gleaned from over 2,000 youth ages 8 to 18 shows that 58 percent support hunting, and that support increases as they get older,” he told the crowd.
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This article was published in the August 2010 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.