Dad’s Best & Son’s First.
Ohio’s 2009 gun season was rapidly winding down; it was Saturday with only Sunday remaining. The season had been pretty much a bust for Leonard Bakker and his son, Travis.
Leonard had set up a two-person treestand on 65 acres of private land in Clinton County in southwestern Ohio.
“I had taken off the whole week to hunt the gun season and, to be honest, it had been a disappointment,” he said. “Saturday was going to be my son’s second day (ever) of deer hunting and, at 11 years old, he was more than ready to get in the stand. I wasn’t as enthusiastic, however, because I hadn’t seen much activity there.”
Travis had been given a new scoped, 20-gauge shotgun, and he’d been peppering a cardboard deer target with holes. He was proficient out to 100 yards.
“We were in the double treestand well before daylight,” Leonard said. “I was hoping we’d see deer right from the start, but that didn’t happen.
“As time wore on, my son grew antsy. To keep him interested, we talked about how important it is to keep as still as possible and to communicate by whispering, only when necessary. We also decided we’d tap the other on the knee if we saw something, and then — instead of pointing — we’d use a clock system to describe where to look.
“About 8:00, a doe ran onto the field 80 yards distant. Since I was sitting on that side of the stand, I immediately shouldered my shotgun. I was a second away from squeezing the trigger when I spotted a big buck about 20 yards behind her. As soon as I switched targets, I fired.
“The buck jumped, bolted 40 yards, stumbled and then went head-first to the ground, doing a complete somersault,” Leonard continued.
The doe was still running around, coming close to the downed buck, stomping, snorting and wheezing as she tried to figure out what happened to her suitor.
“I decided this would be a perfect shot for Travis, so I had him shoulder his gun and try to get on the doe. By the time he got set up for the shot, no easy feat because of all the excitement over the buck, the doe decided it was time to abandon loverboy.
“I told Travis that we’d stay in the tree for at least 30 minutes, although he was dying to get a closer look. After the minutes ticked by, we lowered our unloaded guns to the ground and got down,” Leonard said.
The buck was a 12-pointer, a massive mainframe 3x3 with three extra points on each side (that contributed more than 50 inches to the BTR score).
“The first thing I did was to photograph it with my cell phone, and then I called my wife and brother. After sharing photos with them, I prepared and attached the tag and field-dressed the deer, which didn’t bother Travis at all.
“When we tried dragging the deer, we realized it was way too big. I wound up driving my minivan onto the field, tying the buck to the bumper and dragging it out — with Travis following on foot to make sure the rack did not get caught on anything.
“After loading it on our trailer, we took off to get it officially tagged at Bill‘s Carryout near the Caesar’s Creek Dam, and then it was off to a few friends’ houses before heading home,” Leonard said.
Father and son returned to the stand at 3:30 p.m.
“I carried my shotgun only because I still had a doe tag. But the first order of business was to get my son a deer,” Leonard said. “I guess it was about 4:00 when Travis poked my leg and said, ‘Dad, there’s a deer at 10:30.’
“I thought he was fooling with the 10:30 stuff, but I focused my attention that way and, sure enough, saw a deer 200 yards across the field and heading our way.
“I told Travis to raise his gun and to get on the deer quickly, though it was too far to shoot with a 20 gauge. When the buck was about 140 yards away, I told Travis to take it,” Leonard continued.
Travis missed, and then Leonard was frantically digging in his pockets for more shells. He wound up handing his own 12 gauge to his son. The boy missed twice more with his dad’s gun.
“He said he was leading the slow-moving buck, but I told him he didn’t need to worry about that,” Leonard said.
The fourth shot connected. The buck jumped, and then ran about 60 yards before collapsing in the field.
“Travis was shaking like a leaf in a wind,” Leonard said. “He told me, ‘Dad, I’m really cold. I can’t stop shaking.’
“I said, ‘Son, that isn’t cold. That is an adrenaline rush from all the excitement while trying to shoot your first buck. You’ll be fine in a few minutes, and then we’ll get down and go look at your deer.’”
Hunter: Leonard Bakker
BTR Official Score: 183 5/8
BTR Composite Score: 197 5/8
— Photos Courtesy of Leonard Bakker
This article was published in the October 2010 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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