Matt and Daughter
“Daddy, Why are you shaking so much” were the words my 11 year old daughter calmly said to me moments after she just shot her first deer which happened to be a very nice 8 point. With the smoke from the TC still lingering and the deer running off thru the woods, I had to be shaking more than I have ever before. Why was I shaking so much? Why wasn’t she shaking at all? Unsure of even making contact, we stayed up in the stand to give it a few minutes. Plus I don’t think I could have unhooked my safety harness anyway.
With almost 30 years of deer hunting under my belt, I thought I have felt every emotion there is in this passion of ours. I will admit, shooting a deer doesn’t just tare me up like it used to. Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely love deer hunting and am extremely thankful for every deer I put in my freezer. But I didn’t remember the absolute thrill it was until I started taking my kids hunting. Last year I was able to experience my son shoot his first deer which happened to be a 10 pointer and this year, in the same stand, I was with my older daughter while she shot her first deer. But you know what? I was a lot more excited about my daughter’s first deer than I was about my son’s who is 3 years younger.
With my son, his whole life all he wanted to do was hunt. He would draw pictures in school of himself sitting in a treestand shooting a big buck under him for his “What I want to be when I grow up” projects. So I knew I would never have a problem with him not wanting to go with me out into the fields or woods for a hunt. But my daughter has never shown that much interest. I strongly believe in letting children choose their own direction in life, so I didn’t want to push it. When it was the week before youth deer season for us in Illinois and she asked me if she can hunt this year, I immediately said “Get in the truck and lets go get the permit!” I wasn’t going to pass up this offering she gave her Dad. I knew it would only take one successful day and she would be hooked.
Youth Hunting Camp
Our youth season hunting is a getaway for all of us. We take advantage of nicer weather and make a camping trip out of it for the kids. Not so much the typical “deer camp” like most of us know of, but a whole lot of marshmallows, hot coco and learning about different things in and around the woods. It’s my kids, myself and their grandpa (my dad). It’s a time to teach and have fun. For my Dad and I, a time to sit back and watch the children grow up and be responsible.
So to the hunt in question. It was a cool morning, trees still covered in green leaves, nothing moving and I was getting worried. All I wanted was some sort of action to keep her interest. I kept telling her that with all the cover, a deer could pop up under us at any second which is something I did not want to happen. So guess what happens? Yep, sure enough, a young 8 point all of a sudden appears on her right side and 20 yards from our stand. He also just happens to be downwind. We had no chance. Made an attempt to get the TC Encore up and get her turned for a shot, but we were quickly busted and that chance was gone with a wave of the good bye flag. Wasted opportunity? I say a needed lesson in the growth of a hunter. That was a blessing in disguise as it showed her the point I was trying to make. Be still, keep watching and be ready. Which later she was able to put what she learned to the test.
An hour later, a few deer off in the distance and the cold is starting to set in on her. But she was still enjoying herself so we are sticking with it. I look where that earlier buck came from and there is movement again. Here comes another buck and this time we have the jump on it. But the cover is so thick, she can’t find it. Still on her off side, I get her to get turned and get ready because he will be downwind of us and won’t stick around. Next thing I know, there is smoke lingering in the woods and I am walking around on the ground trying to find blood. I honestly don’t remember much. It was all a quick blur. I remember seeing the deer run off after the shot and not knowing if she made contact. It took me a little bit, but I found out she connected with her shot and now they start. The shakes.
I get back up in the stand and give her a big hug and all the congratulations. She is happy and all smiles. I am shaking like I have never shaken before. I had forgotten that overwhelming feeling one gets in that moment. Now thanks to my kids I feel like a new hunter again. I get to start over and experience the whole life and growth of becoming a hunter. I am so excited that my baby girl finally got her first deer but I think I am more excited that at this moment, she took that next step into her life of a hunter. So when she asked me why I was shaking so much, all I could tell her was “I am happy”.
Matt and Daughter
Her first Deer
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