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No More Sad Looks

HoltzBy Todd Holtz

-- I have always enjoyed the outdoors and sharing my successes and failures with friends and family. My wife and I enjoy hunting, fishing and horseback riding together, which has had a big impact on our son, Cole. I remember the disappointed look on his face when I he was too young to go with me. The spirit was eager, but the body just wasn’t ready.

Now that he’s bigger, Cole’s interests still revolve around hunting and fishing. Last year he applied for a mentor tag here in South Dakota and received a doe permit.

He was so excited to finally join the ranks of real hunters.

We spent some time scouting and getting ready, but it was just too hot when the season opened. Cole was anxious to go, but I told him, "There will be much better days to go, and we have lots of time. Let’s not be in a hurry."

Finally, on Veteran’s Day, I told him, "Let’s head out." We live on a large farm with wildlife all around us, and several times Cole had seen a big doe in the grove about 300 yards from the house. We managed to stalk her, but she caught my scent and bolted. I told Cole, "That’s how it goes sometimes."

We went back to that same area, and this time the wind was in our favor. "We are going to walk about 10 yards and then stop and glass," I told him.

After sneaking through the dense cover, Cole turned to me and said, "Well, it doesn’t look like the deer are here, Dad."

Just then, I saw movement to our right out in a bean field; there were two does in a waterway just north of us. I told Cole, "Get down and let’s see what they do."

Cole immediately sat down and got hit youth model .243 into a ready position. We watched those does for about an hour and a half. As the sun began to set, they remained out of shooting range.

Finally, both deer seemed to go on alert and stared in our direction. I thought they had spotted us, but instead two more does crossed the road and were heading right at us. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing right to them, and I knew that if they smelled us, they likely would blow and scare off the other two.

Cole, who had been watching the deer to the north, said, "Dad, I can’t see them any more." Sure enough, when I stood up to look, the first two does were coming in on a fast trot.

As one of the does got to within about 70 yards, Cole asked, "Can I take her?

"Not until she turns broadside," I said.

The shot opportunity could come at any second, so I leaned forward and clicked off Cole’s safety. When the doe turned broadside at 40 yards, I whispered, "Take her! Shoot!"

Cole replied, "I can’t! The trigger won’t pull back!"

I looked up and saw the safety was only about half off, so pushed it the rest of the way forward, and Cole pulled the trigger almost immediately. He made a perfect shot, right behind the shoulder, despite all the distractions. "I got her, Dad. I got her!"

It was the best moment of my life to see my son take his first deer and soak in the look on his face. I liked that much more than the look I used to get when he was too small to go with me.

--Todd Holtz

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