By David Kisamore
-- I am 42 years old. In my 30-plus years of hunting, some of my greatest joys have been teaching my now 14-year-old son, Joshua, how to hunt and then having the privilege of seeing him bag his first deer, a large doe.
That was back during a 2007 youth hunt. He was armed with a .30-30 he'd purchased himself by working for me in my lawn care business. After burning my doe tag, I spent all my hunting time with him that season, trying to help him score.
The next spring, I took Joshua turkey hunting a few times and called in two nice Jakes. Joshua took both of them with his 20 gauge, which he also bought. Due to work and taking the time to help Joshua, I was not able to harvest any turkeys that season, but it did not matter. It was more fun to see Joshua take the turkeys.
This past fall, Joshua drew first blood with a nice doe on the first day of bow season with a bow he'd purchased. It was a beautiful heart shot at 35 yards. I had the privilege of standing next to him as he shot from our two-person ladder stand. I could not have been happier if I'd taken a record-book deer myself.
"It's Dad's turn now," I told him.
On the last day of bow season, I was in a ladder stand. With only half an hour of shootable light remaining, a very large doe slipped in behind me. I took about a 30-yard shot and dropped her. Oh, that felt good. I took the deer home and the first one to greet me was Joshua, followed by his younger brother, Caleb, who is already dreaming of taking his first deer.
When rifle season opened, I took Joshua with me and explained to him that we were on equal terms now. If he spotted a buck, he could take it. If I did, I'd get the shot. He agreed.
The morning hunt was busted when another hunter took a deer directly across the ravine from us. Shortly thereafter, we decided to go home because it started to rain. On the way home, I spotted a nice doe about 150 yards distant. I had four doe tags I could use anytime and decided to take the shot. We both felt it was too long a shot in the woods with Joshua's .30-30, so I took her with my Remington Model 700 .30-06. Man, that felt good, too.
Later that week, on Thanksgiving Day, I went out with Joshua again. We hiked to the top of a ridge where I had spooked a nice buck the previous day. We spent most of the morning on that ridge, but saw nothing. After hiking down to the valley below, I asked Joshua where he thought we should go. He suggested a slow walk around to where two of our treestands were - the same place I took the doe with my bow.
Passing by the stands, we came upon a little corn I had put out on an earlier hunt. I could see by the fresh tracks in the new snow that a large deer had been there that morning. We both put on our game faces and prepared for an encounter.
We did not go 100 yards from the corn pile when a nice buck jumped up out of some green briar. I followed the deer with my eye glued to the Nikon scope until it stopped about 50 yards away, its head behind a tree.
In my experience, when a large buck is jumped and it stops to see what's up, it'll stand there for only a second or two. I glanced at Joshua, who had not even raised his gun, and made the last-second decision to shoot.
Joshua was initially a bit upset that I did not let him take the shot, but after explaining that the deer would not wait around for him to get ready, he got on board and celebrated with me.
The deer was not a monster, but for the property we hunt, it was the biggest taken that season. It turned out to be a basic 4x4 with an extra beam on the right side. That beam had one tine going up and two drop tines. We first thought it was a 10-pointer because the second drop time was small and against the head. Caleb was the first to spot the second drop tine back at the house. It's an 11-pointer!
I went on to fill two more doe tags last season, bringing my total to five deer. Joshua bagged another doe, too.
There is no more joy for a hunting father than to see his child harvest his or her first deer with a gun. But, believe me, there will come a day when you must look your son or daughter in the eye and say, "It's Dad's turn now."
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