From Georgia to Illinois, father and son love hunting
From Jackie Sizemore (Walker's father)
As someone born and raised in rural South Georgia, I'm blessed to have grown up knowing the joy and excitement of hunting deer, turkey, dove, quail and hogs.
To this day, I can vividly recall getting buck fever when my first big whitetail appeared. When my son Walker was born, I knew right away I wanted to share with him all the wonderful aspects of the outdoors I'd grown to love.
I purchased Walker's first gun at age six, a .22 Hornet. I spent a lot of time teaching him firearm safety, then a lot more time on the practice range.
You can only imagine how big and important a 6-year-old felt when his dad told him he was getting to shoot his new gun!
The next step was to impart my knowledge of deer hunting and how to be a good steward of the land. I felt it equally important to teach him how to fully enjoy the gifts of nature.
Before we set foot in a stand, I taught Walker when to shoot and when not to, and the importance of how to field judge a buck.
The last thing I wanted was for him to be an if-it's-brown-it's-down hunter. That's why I stressed the need to let little bucks walk so they will become future wallhangers.
The same year Walker received his rifle and training, he shot his first buck in Terrell County, Georgia with a perfect 100-yard shot!
Of course, this proud father had the deer mounted. Although it might not look like a trophy to most, it's a huge trophy to us. It hangs on a wall in my store, Backwoods Outdoors, to this day.
From ages six to ten, Walker harvested eight deer. Even as a child, he was turning into quite the seasoned hunter.
Since then, Walker has become as proficient with a bow as he is with a rifle.
While South Georgia has its share of huge bucks, the lure of monster bucks in Illinois was mighty inviting. When Walker turned thirteen, we planned a bowhunting road trip with an outfitter.
The Illinois shooter bucks eluded Walker during bow season, which was very disappointing, but he made up for it in muzzleloader season by taking a 135-incher at 125 yards with his .50 caliber.
After returning home to Georgia, all Walker could think about was our next trip to Illinois, so we booked a hunt with Extreme Hunts of Pike County.
The next trip was far different than the first in a couple of ways. First, we flew instead of driving, which made for a much more pleasant trip. The second major difference was the short amount of time it took to spot and take a big buck.
Luck was definitely on Walker's side on that bowhunt, because a huge buck with massive antlers stepped out at 35 yards on the very first day.
Walker picked up his bow, overcame a racing heart, drew down on the monster and let his arrow fly.
His aim was true and soon his 145-inch 11-pointer was the envy of deer camp.
Being the proud dad, I asked Walker when he wanted to return. His reply was simple, "Tomorrow!"