By Seth C. Weston
-- On November 23, 2007, I took my 9-year-old son, Christopher, out on his first rifle hunt for deer. I did not grow up in a hunting family, so I had been hunting only a handful of times in the last few years. In fact, when we went on this hunt, I had not bagged my first whitetail yet. So it was with great pride that my son was able to shoot his first deer at age 9 before I did at age 40!
This hunt came about when I bid at an auction for Hunters for the Hungry in Virginia. The plan was to hunt on 900 acres of managed private land, and our local outdoor Roanoke Times writer, Mark Taylor, was going to guide it and film it to be put onto television if all went well.
We met Mark in the early afternoon. Christopher would be using a light-kicking .243 rifle. After making a few shots downrange to ensure he could shoot the gun well, we headed out to a spot that Mark had scouted out earlier.
We set up a ground blind in the crux of two fallen logs, spreading out some limbs and camo cover between the logs to offer come concealment. We hadn’t been in the blind for 15 minutes when Mark put the camera on me and asked me to say a few words about the Hunters for the Hungry program and how we came to this hunt. I had just finished saying a few words about it when I looked up and saw a doe not 30 yards distant.
Mark was out of position to film it easily, but Christopher put the rifle on the log and aimed. We’re all trying to remain quiet and limit movement, when Mark sheepishly told me that he forgot to chamber a round in the gun before he gave it to Christopher. Mark slowly handed me a round, which I gave to Christopher. He was able to load the rifle without making a lot of noise or movement.
All of the sudden Christopher whispered back that he was looking at another deer. I couldn’t see it due to some trees. He announced that he had his sights on it. We gave Christopher the go-ahead.
His shot was not bad, considering it was his first at a game animal and his level of excitement. The doe ran a short distance and then stopped to look back at us. The deer was definitely mortally wounded. We tried to switch positions so Christopher could shoot again, but the deer spooked.
After short time, Christopher began tracking his first deer. He had the glee of a 5-year-old on Christmas morning. Sign led to a nearby field that others were hunting, so we couldn’t recover the animal right away.
We returned to our blind and set up again. This is when Mark surprised me by saying that I could shoot a large doe. Twenty minutes later, another doe came in and stood in the same spot as Christopher’s deer had when he pulled the trigger. I aimed my Remington .270 and felled it the doe with one shot.
We walked back to the cabin area to get a four wheeler to retrieve both deer. Mine went to Hunters for the Hungry, and Christopher’s went into the freezer for chili, burgers and steaks.
One of the photos I sent shows Christopher with the .243 and Mark Taylor next to his doe hanging on a gambrel, and the other picture shows Christopher on top of the four-wheeler with our does in the back.
Now that is the story of how my 9-year-old son shot his first deer before me. I hope you find it interesting enough to publish.
--Seth C. Weston
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