I will warn you, this is going to be a long post but there are pictures below the long post
I honestly don't even know where to start, so I will start at the beginning....
As most of you know, and I am sure can relate too, I am an avid hunter and have been my entire life. I was blessed with a father that is my best friend and raised me in the woods or on a lake. I have had the pleasure of hunting multiple states, multiple species, and whitetail all over the state of Texas. I have vowed to strive to be the father to my two children that he was to me. I was blessed with two outstanding kids and I have introduced them to the life I live every chance I get. This weekend, all that effort came together the moment my daughter pulled the trigger on her first deer.
She has been shooting guns since she was three. I have the proof in a picture that a gamko bb gun kicks, because mamma bear took a picture of the black eye that my daughter got when she three. I tried to tell her over and over not to put her eye up to the scope (not because I thought it would kick, but because I wanted her to learn right), but would you believe that a three year has their own way of doing it?
Fast forward all the rest to this weekend, because that is what matters...She was off school Friday, so we decided to make it an extended weekend. Since she couldn't hunt yet, she sat in the bow blind with me. It was the first time she has done this and seeing deer at 15 yards was an eye opening experience for her. We had a great time and while I have talked to her about management and what we do and why we do it, she could not understand why I was trying to shoot an old ten that had half the antlers of the 4yo we call "Kickers". Well, I took the shot on the old ten and ended up shooting low through the brisket. We gave him about 4 hours and set to tracking him. We tracked him together for about 400 yards and about 5 hours of searching and he made circle back to within 40 yards of where I shot him. We weren't able to collect our deer and I was a little upset about it. I haven't lost many deer over the years and sure didn't want to do it with a buck she was involved with, but so is life. She was there to comfort me in my time of need.
While we were out tracking, my sister and her family made it in because her kids were off also. So it was me, my daughter, my BIL and both my nieces. A few of the other hunters, which I count as family and friends because some of us have hunted on the same place together for 24 years, also came in. It was shaping up to be a great weekend.
That afternoon, my daughter stayed at camp with my sister and nieces to play and my BIL and I went out for one last bow hunt. He was able to connect with a big bodied 7 we had been after.
The next morning came quick. My daughter was reluctant to get out of the warm bed and head out into the upper 20 degree temps, but when I reminded her it was her turn, we headed out. We headed out to the stand and shortly after arriving, realized that the heater someone let us borrow was out of propane...I was dressed to sit in a blind with a heater and my daughter got the blanket AND my coat. Did I mention that the West facing window was missing in the stand? Needless to say, I was froze...
We had deer early but the wind was variable and they seemed to have an idea something was wrong. Every deer we saw, I was asked "is that a shooter", to which the answer was a lot of "no's". Around 9:00, I couldn't feel my toes anymore so I decided it was time to pack it up. I packed backpack up, was situating the stand, and looked up to see bodies moving toward the corn. I dug the binoculars back out and low and behold, there was a spike. To my daughter, it was a B&C record buck because I finally said "yes."
At this point, it should be noted that I had told her she was limited to spikes and does.
Anyway, Spikey as she called him, came walking in with he 7 point buddy and started to vacuum up the rest of our corn. We got my daughter set up, she located him in the scope without a problem and the wait was on. I swear, every time he gave us a "shot" by turning broadside, something kept her from being able to actually get the shot. "Dad, there is a limb", "Dad, the other buck is too close", "Dad, he almost turned the right way", "Dad.....", and the list went on. FOR 45 minutes. I have never gotten excited and deflated so many times in a short amount of time. Finally, Spikey walked off into the woods and we headed back to camp.
Saturday was a day of fun. We ate breakfast and then shot our bows. I just recently bought her one off the forum and she loves it. Both her nieces had theirs, so we made a game of it. After that, we headed to the gravel pit to fire off some rounds. The kids took turns with all the different rifles. All in all, there were 7 kids shooting and the adults had to get in a few here and there also.
Saturday night is when everything went sideways. I took my daughter and my youngest niece, my BIL took my oldest niece, my sister stayed at camp, my buddy took the kid he brought (sam), and a long time hunting buddy took his oldest son. A good friend that is on the forum was also out there bow hunting, but his kids aren't old enough.
He was kind enough to let me hunt one of his blinds. His blind is an 8' circle, so me, an 8 year old and a 9 year old would have all the room we needed. I loaded up and headed out only to find that the blind was locked (he didn't know). By the time we got everything out of the truck and herded the kids to the stand and back to the truck, it was getting about 5:00...my ford flew across the pasture to the closest stand I could hunt which was a 4x4 square...if you haven't met me, I am not tall but I make up for it in girth...So, me, an 8 year old and a 9 year old ended up fitting into a 4' square with 2 chairs, one gun, a backpack and shelf. How we saw a deer is beyond me!!!
The feeder went off and I started seeing deer off in the distance. The closer the deer got, the harder I tried to keep the 2 girls calm and occupied, but the closer the deer got the more excited they both got. This of course was counter productive to deer hunting. We had 4 deer come by and they didn't pay us any attention, so we were good so far. During this time, a crop duster was flying over the ranch and my BIL had texted me twice that it had ran his deer off when they were about to shoot a doe. He was getting frustrated, but I didn't have time to deal with his problems, I had my own issues to handle. Then, my other buddy that was bow hunting was having cow problems. I have to admit, I took the time to revel in his problems because I could see his stand from where I was and he is fun to jack with.
A little after 6:00, I noticed a big bodied deer about 500 yards out heading our way. I had a good feeling he was coming, just didn't know if the girls would be able to stay still that long, but we were going to give it a try. I finally found him again at about 250 yards and knew he was coming. I had a pretty good idea what he was, but wasn't 100% sure.
Again, my daughter played the game of "can I shoot that" as some other deer moved in and of course, her and my niece were getting frustrated hearing the word NO over and over. Finally, the buck I had been watching came up the ridge behind the feeder and my niece spotted it. My daughter asked one last time and after a quick look it was obviously a big bodied cull crab claw, and I told her YES.
We went over shot placement one last time and she wanted to be sure. I pulled a picture of a whitetail up on my phone and pointed it out. The answer I got was classic Maggie: "Dad, I got this".
And she did. The deer wasn't there for corn, he was checking scrapes and working his way away while we got set up. I got her on the deer and went over her preshot routine one last time. Before I could sit back down in my cramped space to watch impact, she had pulled the trigger. I watched the deer trot like he wasn't touched toward the ridge. He went behind a bush and I couldn't tell if he went down, or off the ridge. It was all high fives and hugs. I was so proud of her and how she had handled the day. I thought I was shaking more than her too.
I was still glassing to see if I could find the buck when my BIL sent me a text that simply said "Buck down." My niece had dropped a good one.
We waited about 20 minutes and watched the other deer that didn't run off at the report and a doe came in. I told her she could shoot the doe if she wanted. She laughed and said "Dad, my legs are shaking so bad that I don't think I could stand, much less shoot another deer"
While there was still light, we got down. I left the girls about 40 yards up the hill in case he was injured and headed down to find him. He had piled up just behind the bush. I whistled for her to come down and got to watch her expression as she saw her buck for the first time. Truly an experience I will never forget. She had hit him exactly where I had told her and he was better than I expected. Great cull and great first buck. I couldn't believe it and the hugs and high fives started all over again.
I loaded him up and went to help my BIL load my nieces buck. We got some pictures and finally made it back to camp. At camp, there was another first. Sam had killed his first deer ever also and it was a spike. The other kid was able to connect with an old 10 that we were after to get out of the herd also!!! That night, the excitement around camp was unbelievable as the kids and adults compared stories and tales.
The next morning, the only hunter left that hadn't connected was able to connect with a doe, so every kid was able to take home some meat and some great stories.
If you are still with me after my novel, thanks for reading. If you skipped to the pictures, they are finally here. Thanks for letting me share, I am still riding this cloud that is the beginning of the next chapter of my hunting.
My daughters buck weighed in at 154lbs field dressed. This is the second heaviest buck we have killed off our place.
Also, a special thanks to Bobo the Clown for letting my daughter borrow a couple of his guns to use to take her first buck. She used a Remington 700 chambered in a 6.5 Creedmore. Can't thank you enough sir