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Maiden Hunt Ends Well for Katie

Dan NethersBy Dan Nethers

-- My 14-year-old daughter, Katie, got a late start as a deer hunter, but it wasn't her choice. Prior to November 2008, she had been unable to hunt due to juvenile fibromyalgia. During that year and a half, we had to take her out of school three times and home-school her because she'd missed so many days.

Last year, eager to take her on her first hunt, I had a scope mounted on a 20-gauge shotgun that she could use, but she was never well enough to shoot it. In 2008, however, she was able to shoulder and fire it just a few days before Ohio's youth gun season.

That's when we learned she's left-eye dominant. After switching to shooting left-handed, Katie was able to touch part of the bull's-eye with her last two shots. I proclaimed her "ready."

We no longer live in the county where we hunt, so I had to roust Katie just after 3 a.m. on Nov. 22. Even so, we were more than a half-hour late getting to our hunting area.

Upon our arrival there, I got Katie geared up (the temperature was somewhere below 16 degrees) for her first hunt of any kind. Afterward, while I was gathering my own gear, Katie said she was nauseous and felt lightheaded. I lowered the tailgate so she could sit down for a bit.

She looked miserable, but she didn't want to go home.

As we prepared our spot on the ground by clearing out sticks, branches and leaves, a deer snorted at us from the next hill, probably 200 yards away from us. At least we had company!

After loading the Remington 1100 youth model, I set up a 2-foot-high turkey blind I'd brought. The flimsy rods almost didn't penetrate the frozen ground.

I had Katie practice aiming with her shooting stick, as the terrain was hilly and she would have to adjust its height depending on which direction she might have to shoot and how far up- or downhill a deer might be. A large fallen oak treetop still laden with leaves helped complete our hiding place.

About 15 minutes after we were situated, Katie spotted a yearling doe. I asked her if she wanted to take it, but she wanted a buck. We watched the wary doe pass within a few yards.

Katie's back became sore from being so still, so I supported her with my hands.

Soon afterward, Katie spotted two more does near where she'd seen the first. When they left, I saw that a big buck was trailing them. I told Katie to get ready for a shot. The buck stopped broadside uphill and looked our way. Katie was ready. I asked her if she had a clear target. She said she did, so I told her to shoot.

The great 6x4 ran forward and a little closer, and Katie fired again. A third shot anchored it, though there was really no need. The first slug would've been enough; it entered behind the shoulder. The second shot entered right beside the first.

--Dan Nethers

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