By Jim Hiles
-- Last year, I took my 9-year-old son A.J. with me to southern Ohio to see my parents and bowhunt on a piece of my father’s land. The property consists of two stocked ponds and river bottoms and has a flourishing whitetail population. It was my first opportunity to see what was out there, and my hopes were high.
When I arrived, Dad showed me a trail cam picture of a 10-pointer. It wasn’t a monster, but it was big enough. He told me where I could find the camera and the scrape it was positioned near. I eagerly made plans to be there first thing in the morning. As the saying goes, "Man plans, God laughs,’’ and when I arrived at the site before dawn, the wind wasn’t right and I had to find a different spot.
I saw a couple of does and one buck, but after that early action, I didn’t see anything else. I decided to return to my parents’ home for lunch.
When I arrived, A.J. was disappointed to see me empty handed, but I explained that things don’t always go as planned, especially when hunting. I’ve known for some time that he would love to hunt with me, but I never made the concessions necessary to take this "spring in tennis shoes" to the woods with me. In my mind, there was always a reason to say, "Not this time."
I had given A.J. some serious thought on the way back to the house, and I finally decided that when I returned to the woods, he would join me. I had no camo for him, so I wrapped him in one my coats and sprayed him down with Scent Killer, and off we went.
The first thing I noticed was the wind was now perfect for the trail camera stand, so I headed in with my boy in tow. Along the way, I pointed out the rubs, tracks and other deer sign. We slowly crept to within 30 yards of the scrape and took a position in some brush next to a large log washed in by the previous spring’s floods. It was a perfect spot in that it allowed me to see toward the scrape but still kept the fidgety A.J. hidden.
I had decided that any deer would work for this occasion, just to add to my son’s first hunting adventure. But after 45 minutes, we had seen only one squirrel and I noticed A.J. was getting ants in his pants and had moved behind me. I was trying to think of something to keep his interest when, as if on cue, I saw the buck from the photo approaching from the left.
I reached back and quickly patted A.J.’s leg. In a whisper worthy of any seasoned hunter, he asked, "Do you see one?’’ I pointed toward the buck as it walked up to the scrape and put its nose down. I heard a gasp behind me, which told me that A.J. could see the action clearly.
I drew my bow, put my 30-yard pin on the vitals and squeezed the release. The arrow seemed to be in slow motion as it found its mark. The buck took off around a corner of the dense growth and ran out of sight. I turned to my son to see the amazed look on his face. He was wide-eyed and smiling from ear to ear as he announced that it was the greatest thing he had ever seen.
I called Dad to let him know of our success, and then A.J. said he wanted to call his grandmother to tell her about what he had just seen.
Grandpa arrived in short order, and we took the flashlights and begin to track. It didn’t take long, and A.J. was first to see the buck and get his hands on its antlers. While no Buckeye Big Buck Club measurements would be necessary, it was a trophy of three lifetimes for me. Dad looked over the whole scene with obvious enjoyment, knowing that his love of the outdoors was alive and strong in two more generations.
And now I have a great new hunting buddy who believes I’m the best hunter in the world.