By David Birkett
It was about 7:45 a.m. on Saturday morning and the sun had just cleared the hillside and started breaking through the trees. Garrett, having just woken from a nap, was busy checking out every squirrel and bird that he heard. He thought everything was a deer sneaking in on us.
I explained to him that if a deer was going to sneak in, we would never hear it until it was under our stand, and that was the main reason we had to remain perfectly still. Having never hunted from a treestand before, Garrett was having a hard time sitting still. He looked like a bobble-head figure checking out everything that moved or made a sound in the woods.
It was about that time, I saw a tail flicker about 55 yards down the ravine by a large oak tree. I raised my binoculars to see the large body of a deer eating acorns. The neck and head were hidden by the tree, but it was a whitetail. I whispered to Garrett, "I see a deer."
He answered in a rather load voice, "Where?" I gave him the stern shhhh sign as I pointed at it while helping him raise the muzzleloader.
As he was placing the gun on the shooting rail, I whispered in his ear, reminding him to aim carefully and slowly squeeze the trigger like at the range. Let the gun go off on its own while you keep the cross hairs on the middle of the chest, I told him.
Sixty seconds later, I whispered “shoot!” After what seemed like another 10 minutes, but was actually more like 30 seconds, I whispered "shoot or it might walk away." Three seconds after that, the air was filled with white smoke.
After a quick peek with my binoculars and seeing the white belly lying on the ground, I heard a loud “I got it!” I grabbed the muzzleloader, put the stock on the floor and started to dig in my back pack for the reload kit. About that time, Garrett shouted again. “It’s a buck!” In disbelief, I took another look and after seeing the rack, I began digging frantically for the reload kit.
About that time I heard the worst phrase possible. “Hurry, Dad, it is trying to get up.” Gatorade, cookies, beef jerky, donuts and candy bars were flying everywhere at this point. After nearly spilling the rest of our powder pellets, I was able to get the muzzleloader reloaded and ready for another shot.
However, I looked back up and the deer was gone. My heart sank and I asked Garrett, “Where did it go?”
“I’m not sure,” he said, “but I think I killed his back legs.”
I explained we need to give it some time. But after about 10 minutes and his constant urging, I gave in and we climbed down. Once Garrett was on the ground, I nearly fireman poled that ladder. Using all the restraint I could to keep Garrett from running with a gun, we walked up to the buck to complete the harvest of his very first deer and possibly the buck of his lifetime.