By Mark Bartholomy
It's a family tradition. Leah, her dad and grandfather have taken their first deer with the same rifle.
This year's youth hunt was a great outdoors experience for two young ladies-my daughter and niece-who are now very hooked on deer hunting.
The day started at 4:30 a.m., when we went north to the 10-acre parcel to hunt. Both girls were ready to go, and both of them brought a gun and a bow. We were on the stand by 6 and daylight wasn't supposed to arrive until 6:35.
We had nine does come in within 30 yards right away in the morning, but we decided we were going to shoot a doe only in the evening hunt if we didn't see anything else.
Three of the does bedded down 20 yards away for about two hours, but around 10:15 a very large 8-point with about a 22-inch spread and 13-inch tines stood up from the tall grass. It must have been there all day!
The buck stepped just inside the wood line. We waited five minutes or so, then hit the doe bleat, and he stepped out for a second look. That was only long enough to get a good look, by the time my daughter found him with the scope, he was gone. We gave it another 45 minutes, then left to get some breakfast.
Leah Bartholomy's first deer
We were back at the stand by 4:15 that evening and saw nothing until 5:20 while we were eating apples and having some water when a nice 8-point stepped into view.
After ten minutes of waiting for the buck to come into the 40 yard range, Leah made the shot right on the heart. The buck ran about 60 feet and dropped.
Leah shot her buck with the same gun that I shot my first with, and the same gun my father shot his first deer with, the great .30-30 Winchester. Hopefully, I'll see my grandchild use the same gun for his or her first deer.
We waited 10 minutes before making phone calls to mom and to my brother who was in the woods with my niece, Rachael. We told him what Leah shot and that deer were just starting to move, so we advised them to stay out because we could get this one out ourselves.
By the time we got Leah's deer to the truck, the sound of Rachael's .243 went off. Sure enough, we got their call to bring a tow strap because Rachael got her first deer. They thought it was a 6 point, but as we walked up to it we saw it was an 8-point. It was another great shot. Practice is a great thing for our young sportswomen.
As a father, this was probably my greatest hunt ever, and I never touched a weapon. Man, hunting is awesome. Thanks for the help of Buckmasters' TV shows to educate my daughter on a great sport.