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Two Deer for Two Brothers

Strain
Hunter, left, and Levi Schmidt each took an impressive buck during Missouri's 2007 firearms season with the help of their grandpa J.D. Strain.
By Levi and Hunter Schmidt

-- Allow us to introduce ourselves: We are Levi and Hunter, the Schmidt brothers. We are ages 10 and 9 respectively. We are two brothers who each took bucks of a lifetime during the November firearms season in Missouri. We are not old enough to take the hunter safety course, so we hunted on Grandpa's farm (Grandpa watched over us during the hunts).

This is Levi, but of course Grandpa is writing this story for us. Since I am the oldest, I get to tell the first part of the story. I sure hope Grandpa remembers the entire story.

We live next door to Grandpa on his farm in Oregon County, near the small town of Alton where we attend elementary school. But back to the story of the deer hunt.

Firearms season opened on Saturday, and Grandpa took our older brother with him on that day. Grandpa told us that he would take us on Monday morning.

We don't hunt on Sunday since Grandpa is a preacher, and we go to church with him. I don't think I remember much about the sermon because I was thinking that Monday morning was sure slow coming around. When morning finally came, we all got up real early. Grandma, who we call Nana, had made us homemade cookies and even fixed hot chocolate and put it in a Thermos bottle.

Hunter and I reached an agreement that I would get the first shot at the first deer, and he would get the shot at the second deer. We had practiced with our .223 caliber rifles prior to deer season. We packed up our cookies, extra coats and Grandpa even took a blanket along just in case we got cold.

We walked the last quarter-mile to the treestand in the dark, cold morning with just a flashlight. The light and Grandpa sure helped it not be so scary. It seemed like a long hike carrying our rifles. We finally reached the deer stand and climbed up the wooden ladder. Grandpa had made the stand out of a sheet of plywood. He even put up guard rails and built a wooden bench for us to sit on. He just sat on a five-gallon bucket with a soft cushion on top. It was dark when we settled in.

Daylight crept in, and we expected to see a deer right away... but not one deer came. We waited for what seemed like hours and finally asked Grandpa what the time was. He replied it was 6:15. He said a few cookies and some hot chocolate would make time pass quicker. But you can only eat so many cookies and drink only so much hot chocolate. Hunter and I were becoming bored and cold.

Grandpa is an optimistic kind of fellow and said that a deer could show up at any time. He encouraged us to keep looking and listening. Hunter and I were both about to fall asleep when Grandpa said, "Levi there is a deer coming from the south, and I can't tell if it's a buck or a doe, but get ready."

When I looked, I could tell it was a buck. Grandpa said when I had a good shot I should take it. The deer just kept walking up to a fence, jumped it and Grandpa said, "Shoot." I told Grandpa I was waiting for the deer to stop, so Grandpa went "mieeke" and the buck stopped and threw up his head just like I'd seen them do on the Outdoor Channel.

I put the crosshairs on the deer's shoulder, but had to pull my cap off because it was in the way of my scope. Grandpa told me that I needed to hurry and shoot because the deer was not going to stand very long, so I pulled the trigger with the crosshairs in place. I was not nervous until I had shot then my heart pounded in my chest until I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

I just barely heard Grandpa tell me that I had made a good shot. The deer ran downhill along a fence line road and disappeared out of sight. Grandpa said we would wait about 15 minutes before we looked for the deer. That 15 minutes seemed a lot longer that one of his Sunday sermons.

After a short tracking session, we saw a white belly. When we walked up to the deer, I was so excited when I saw how big the antlers were. Why Grandpa even said that I was blessed to be able to take such a nice buck at my young age. In his 40 years of hunting he had never harvest a buck this nice. The deer had 16 points with a drop tine.

Hunter was glad I had harvested a big buck but was kind of sad that he had not seen a deer that he could take. Grandpa told Hunter that he would take him back to the deer stand about 3 p.m. because he wanted to eat lunch and take a nap before going back out.

My little brother thought 3 o'clock would never come, and he woke Grandpa up a couple of times asking if it was time to go. Finally Grandpa told Hunter to get ready to go to the woods. They got into the old farm truck and drove part way to the deer stand. I guess that it is Hunter's turn to tell the rest of the story.

Grandpa and I watched a lot of squirrels, chipmunks, woodpeckers, and even a few black ants but there were no deer stirring. We sat for what seemed like hours, and I asked Grandpa how long we had been in the deer stand. Grandpa said it's only four o'clock. I was really looking hard for a deer.

About 100 yards from the deer stand there is a pond at the end of a 10-acre field of winter wheat. I thought I saw a deer behind the pond bank. Grandpa let me borrow his binoculars. I looked and decided that the thing that looked like a deer was only a bush. All this excitement really woke me up, and I looked and listened even harder.

I asked Grandpa if I could blow the deer grunt call, and he said he would. He let out a few grunts and put the call back in his duffle bag. I would have blown the call a lot more times. Maybe that's why Grandpa said he would blow the call. We waited and waited some more.

I asked Grandpa the time again, and he said 10 minutes before five. I looked to the east toward the wheat field and saw a deer coming through the woods. The deer was about 75 yards away. I told Grandpa that a deer was coming, and I steadied the gun on the guard rail. I had the crosshairs on the deer and pulled the trigger. The deer jumped and took off.

Grandpa said, "Hunter, I think you missed the deer."

I told Grandpa that I had not missed, and the deer would be on the ground up in the woods; just like my brother's deer. Grandpa said again that he thought I had missed, and I told him I hadn't.

I unloaded my gun, climbed down the ladder, and we walked up the logging road. Sure enough, about 30 yards from the spot I shot the deer, lay my buck. I was really excited when I walked up to it. Grandpa said I was very blessed to have taken a nice buck. I counted the points on the rack and there were nine with long tines.

The deer had an inside spread of 171/2 inches. Grandpa field-dressed the deer while I used his cell phone to call my brothers and Nana.

That's the story of the Schmidt brothers white-tailed deer hunt from 2007. Our thanks to Grandpa for his guide service, field-dressing, processing, and bunches of good deer jerky.

As told to J.D. Strain, Grandpa
Levi and Hunter Schmidt
Alton, Missouri

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