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Beyond the Harvest

PhotoBy Wayne DeLuca

-- It was Nov. 17, 2007, the last weekend of the Kentucky rifle season, and I had just come back from a hunting trip in Vermont. I had missed a shot at a small 3-pointer. My wife and I had just purchased 35 acres in Kentucky, and I decided that even though I did not know too much about the deer on it, I would try my luck.

As I was discussing my plans for the day with my wife, my son Jesse overheard and immediately got out his hunting gear and declared he was going also. My wife looked at me and said, "Well do you think he will let you get out of the house without him?"

So together we headed out. On our ride to our new property, I went over what he was to do. He practiced his grunt calls as we drove the two hours along the highway. Jesse and I arrived around 9 a.m. We set up and hiked into the woods. He was very insistent about where we should go.

My hopes were not high, but I was happy to see that my son was so into it. I let him lead. We settled into a hillside overlooking a small field about 300 yards into the woods. Jesse would glass the area, grunt and tell me to remember to be quiet.

After about two hours, we heard some steps coming from up the hill. Jesse started grunting. Waiting expectantly for the buck to appear, Jesse burst out laughing when a hunter emerged over the hill. Jesse thought it was the greatest thing that he had called in a hunter.

Since our hunt had been interrupted, we decided to go have lunch back at my truck. Soon as we got there, Mom showed up with coffee and hot chocolate for us. We recanted the morning hunt and all of us had a laugh.

As I talked with my wife, Jesse came over and said that it was time to go ... that there was a deer up there just waiting to be harvested. Off we were again. My wife was going to be at the house there for a while so she could take some measurements for curtains and stuff, so I left her with one of our walkie-talkies.

Jesse and I agreed to hunt the same field but come in from the other side. When we reached the field, I found an evergreen that made a natural blind, so we settled in under it. He would grunt and glass, but didn't have anything to keep me occupied. A little tired after lunch, I found myself falling asleep.

An hour later, I was thinking about changing locations, but Jesse would not have it. Fifteen minutes later, I heard footsteps coming from my right side. Fortunately, it was a deer this time, but I could not see any antlers. The deer worked its way through the underbrush, and Jesse whispered, "It's a buck."

It disappeared behind some thick trees. I sat up to be in position if it walked into the field. We waited for what seemed like forever. Jesse grunted twice and without making a noise, the buck stepped out 38 yards in front of us. With the crack of my .243, he dropped where he stood. After the shot, Jesse slapped my back and said. "Well done, Pop. Ya didn't miss! No buck fever for you!" Then he just laughed.

I left Jesse with the deer so I could help my wife find her way as we came into the field, where the overgrowth is as high as my son. Heading back to Jesse and the deer, all we could see was my son's hat going up and down and the sounds of "WHOOPIE!"

That night as I put my son to bed, he told me that today had been the greatest day of his life because we shared the experience of hunting.
 
Wayne DeLuca
Kentucky

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