By Mark Warford
-- In October 2005, I took my son, Allen, hunting on the opening weekend of Kentucky's youth hunt. At dusk, as we were headed through the field toward our house, we saw a striking silhouette of a monstrous buck grazing in the distance. Allen aimed, and with a loud crack that shattered the air of the peaceful night, hit the leg of this enormous specimen.
Unfortunately, the shot only wounded the animal and it sprinted into the darkness, leaving not even a drop of blood in its tracks. Despite efforts to locate the buck, there was no trail or evidence of him. Disappointed, we returned to the house unsuccessful.
One week later, I decided that Allen was ready to try his hand at hunting with a muzzleloader. After practicing with targets until I felt he was ready, we trekked to the hay bales near the wheat fields and the silo, a location where deer commonly emerge from the shadows of the trees to graze.
After two and a half hours full of anxiety and frustrated patience, only a small doe had crept into vision. We decided to move from our hiding place and walk to another pasture near our old treestand, which was further back on the farm but a promising destination. This pasture, at the edge of our property line, was adjacent to a small country road, and was yet another storage place for round hay bales.
As we approached this new destination on foot, we observed two spikes fighting within 10 yards of us. Crouching behind the hay bales, we let them pass as we heard a faint rustling of leaves and cracking of branches off to our right. I watched as Allen positioned his gun in anticipation. After a few moments, a buck emerged. Limping out from the undergrowth, it was the same trophy buck that had escaped the youth hunt encounter.
From 30 yards out, the buck approached, completely unaware that there were two humans camouflaged by their surroundings watching its every move. We held our breath, unable to make the slightest of movements. At 15 yards out, Allen pulled the trigger and the large deer dropped to the ground with great force.
After the previous hunt the week before, the hunt couldn't have had a better ending. I was thrilled to share this moment with my son.