By Michael Morgan
Michael Morgan, left, helped Landon Worrell harvest this Tennessee buck.
-- This it is not about the biggest buck in the woods but rather a great weekend that I got to share with a special kid I will never forget.
Every year I am fortunate enough to take a kid from St. Jude or a kid who has raised enough money for St. Jude's research on a hunting trip. I guess you can say that this is my way of giving back.
During the 2007 youth hunting season, I was able to take a young boy from the great state of Tennessee that had raised money for St. Jude research. Landon Worrell spent a great amount of time saving money to donate so he could go on this hunt.
When I met Landon you could see the passion for hunting in his eyes. I was very excited to try and put him on a deer. Our hunt took place on a piece of property I had never stepped foot on until the day before the youth season was scheduled to start. The landowner was gracious to let us access his property for this special hunt.
The property looked liked it was holding a good number of deer, so I decided to hunt a big food source. The first morning of the youth hunt started out with a doe coming into the field about 20 minutes after the sun rose. I told Landon to hold off because I thought that we had a great chance to see a buck that morning. About an hour after seeing the doe, a small 7-point buck stepped out. Landon was pumped up and wanted this buck badly.
You see, to Landon this deer looked like a 150-class buck. Not knowing what else we would see because we were on unfamiliar property I told Landon to let the buck get a little closer because it was out in the field about 240 yards away.
I will never forget the look of confidence on Landon's face when the 10-year-old hunter looked at me and said, "I practice shots like that all the time with no problems." Landon settled in, pulled the trigger and folded the buck in its tracks.
This is the portion of the story that I hate to tell. As you may or not know the Tennessee youth hunt allows a hunter to harvest two does and one buck in the same day. So we set out to hunt that afternoon. I looked at Landon and said, "Okay, kid, I bet you $5 that the first deer steps out from the left-hand corner of the field an hour after we have been in the stand."
We had formed a friendship by this time and traded jokes back and forth like the one mentioned above. Landon told me that we would be in the stand for 5 minutes and that the deer would come from the left corner of the field. Sure enough, Landon's prediction held true as a doe popped out of corner of the field. Landon was ready for me to pay up.
About 30 minutes later, we had a doe walk right in front of the stand, and I told Landon that if he wanted to tag out he could shoot this doe. Landon was two-for-two. We left the doe lying in the field and what happened next was painful for me. The time ticked away and deer started pouring into the field. We saw movement across the field and I remember Landon shouting BIG BUCK!!!
I looked up and spotted three nice bucks all at least 90 inches bigger than the deer he had shot earlier in the day. Landon goes to pull the gun up, and I had to explain to him that he had already harvested his buck and we were there to hunt does. Try to tell that to a kid who has not taken a big buck and can fold deer up at 300 yards away.
We sat there a little while longer and two more bucks of the same caliber showed up in the field. I wanted to take the gun and shoot one of these bucks myself. Finally, as light was starting to get too low for the camera we were filming with, one more doe showed up and Landon took it at about 180 yards away.
For me this was a disappointment until Landon taught me something. If you remember what I mentioned earlier, Landon had already landed what was a trophy buck for him and he had plenty of meat with the two does he took to feed his family and friends back home.
I started thinking about this and thought to myself this kid had harvested three deer in one day all on film. This was a huge accomplishment for a 10-year-old hunter, especially when one of the deer was over a 200-yard shot and another was just short of it. There were around 65 kids who participated in this hunt, and he was the only one to tag out.
This story did have more than one great ending. Here was a kid who had raised money for cancer patients and harvested three deer in one day. He got to show all of his friends the hunt on DVD. And the best part, when he got back home he got his big buck after all.
On the same morning I harvested a nice 9-point buck, I got a text message from a new friend of mine who I had not heard from since our time together during the youth hunt ... he had dropped a 10-point buck.
This was a great experience for me and I cannot wait to be part of the hunt this year because it is very important for all of us to take children hunting whenever we can.
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