By George Mathis
-- My son killed this deer in December 2006, but it seems like yesterday. We were invited to a farm down in Georgia by a good friend of mine who has been trying to get me there for quite some time. When we arrived and Mr. Willis took us into his office, Matthew's jaw dropped when he saw all the deer heads and antlers in the room. Then Mr. Willis asked him if he was here to just hunt deer or to wait it out and get a trophy like one of those. Matthew replied that he was after a big wallhanger, never realizing that it was soon to come true.
After we were settled in, we went to the blind to hunt in the afternoon. It was a cool day, and the deer were on the move. What a beautiful place it was. We had several deer and turkeys come by, though none of the deer were of the size that he wanted. The day ended, but my son and I really enjoyed the time together in that stand. It was an old metal stand that we could both fit in. I was facing one way and Matthew the other, so we had all areas covered.
We decided to go back the next morning, and that's when things got a little rough. If any one has teenage boys, they know they are a little restless that early in the morning. We were walking to the stand when something busted through the night scarring my son to death. But since I am hard of hearing, I didn't hear a thing.
It was foggy, and I told Matthew that it was nothing to worry about and to keep going. It was really cold that morning, too, which was making us wet. That didn't help, and Matthew grew more fidgety. The fog started to lift, and we saw a doe come in. We were there for some meat as well as a trophy, and Matthew asked if he could take her since she was a big one.
I said yes, and as we were getting ready, I put my fingers in my ears while he raised his gun, making all kinds of noise. I thought she was about to bolt so I told Matthew to be a little quieter. As all teenagers will, he gave me the look that says, "I know what I am doing."
I responded, "Okay, but make sure you take your time and look again to make sure you have the shot you need." Just then, I spotted something moving behind the doe, and I told Matthew to wait and see what it was. As if magic, the "something" took one more step toward the doe. The animal's head was not clear because of the fog, so I told Matthew to wait. He really didn't even see the buck yet.
As Matthew raised his head to get a better look, the fog lifted and he asked if it was a big one. I told him I wasn't sure and to wait. It seemed like forever until suddenly he looked my way, and with one breath I told Matthew to take him because he was a big one. By the rack it looked to be a nice 8-pointer.
Boy, was I wrong! Like I said, the fog lifted just enough for me to see the buck's width when it turned its head. At that very moment Matthew shot the deer and it bucked as if to show us it was hit. Matthew could not believe what he had just done and wanted to get down and run after him.
I had a heck of a time getting him to sit still. When we did get down, what I feared was true. All that noise had caused him to get up and run. It was 8 a.m., and we hunted and hunted that deer. We feared that we'd lost the buck to the river or another hunter. Many things went through our heads as we became more desperate.
The landowner told us that he would keep an eye out for buzzards or anyone telling of a deer on the other side of the river. This didn't kill our hunt altogether. Mr. Willis said we'd find somewhere else to hunt for the evening. Well, as this story goes, there was a man who met Mr. Willis at the road as we were coming out, and after talking for just a minute or two, they walked back to our truck and asked if we would like him to help look for the deer.
I told him I would rather look for that deer than go hunting for another and thanked him. So off we went, and Lord would you know that after we returned to the area we found Matthew's deer?
Boy, is it a grand one. It was just a matter of someone else offering to help that we found it. I know that it will be hard for Matthew to top this one, but I'm here to tell you he is hooked, and I could not have asked the Good Lord for a better hunting partner.
The rest is history but the memories of that hunt will last us for the rest of our lives. Since that hunt Matthew has truly become a hunter and a lover of what God has given us on this earth to enjoy and to take care of.
Highlands, North Carolina
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