By Steven Dove
-- My 12-year-old son and I were looking forward to the 2008 youth hunt. After four years of harvesting does, he was eager to get a crack at a buck. That became my priority.
We put out trail cameras during the summer. Each time we took a camera out of the woods, my boy couldn’t wait to see what was on it. The week before the youth hunt, we finally got a photograph of a nice deer – a big-bodied 9-pointer with tall tines.
I’m in the construction business. Prior to opening day, my boss called to ask me to travel to Kansas City, promising I would be back home in time for the youth hunt. I worked for 24 hours and drove home all through the night in order to do it. I arrived just in time to take a shower, dress and head to the woods.
We saw a bunch of small bucks and does and heard a lot of gunshots toward the upper field where we’d put in two food plots. Eventually, the next door neighbors came through in a golf cart with their dogs. They came in behind us, underneath our box blind, and started to play in the creek below us. I yelled out of the blind’s window and said, “We’re hunting here!”
Thankfully, the neighbors hurriedly called their dogs and left. Afterward, my son started to cry. We’d been sitting there all day, there was only an hour remaining before dark, and we still hadn’t seen anything. The sun finally set, and we went home for supper.
We went to church the next morning, returned for breakfast, and then went outside to shoot .22 rifles. Later my brother-in-law arrived and agreed to accompany my 14-year-old daughter in the woods while my son and I went to the field where we’d heard all the shooting the previous day. My son would hunt with the .243, leaving our muzzleloader for his big sister.
Before we all headed out, we took turns showering. I called my brother-in-law to see if he had any unscented shampoo and body wash, which he hadn’t considered. New to hunting, he didn’t realize the importance of it. So my daughter hopped on the four-wheeler and carried him some soap.
When the kids and I were washed, dressed and ready, we piled in the truck and drove to pick up my brother-in-law. When we got to the hunting ground, we went to our respective box blinds with two-way radios.
Soon after we were situated, we heard gunshots. It was the people next to us, sighting-in guns for the upcoming (general) deer season. Thankfully, the deer didn’t seem too bothered.
According to my daughter, does began filtering out of the woods between 3:30 and 4 p.m. They were followed 45 minutes later by the 9-pointer our trail camera had photographed. My brother-in-law said my daughter started to shake and was having difficulty breathing.
He started talking to her to ease her mind. She was considerably calmer by the time she actually squeezed the trigger and nailed the buck in the heart.
They waited until my son and I got out of the hilltop box blind to go look for it. The tracking was easy.
-- Steven Dove
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