I am very happy to report that the TYHP Hunt we did this past weekend was an awesome success. The Huntmaster was Kevin McDaniel and he was assisted by a few other individuals who did an excellent job as well. They provided a fun, entertaining, and safe hunt for the youth hunters and set a great example of how hunters should carry themselves. Caden, my son, managed to take his first white tailed deer, a mature doe, and had a blast.
I'll try to write a quick review of the hunt, but the photograph of the success is at the bottom if you want to skip the brief synopsis.
Last Friday I took my 14 year old son Caden out of school early to participate in a youth hunt with the Texas Youth Hunting Program (TYHP). He didn't know I was going to take him out of school too early so it was a pleasant surprise for him to be picked up just before lunch (11:30). We went to the local gun range to double check everything and he was spot on with his Savage .243 putting 3 shots in a 3" grouping consistently. Knowing he didn't get a chance to eat, I figured we would have a "guys" lunch and proceeded to Bulldogies located near Lake Conroe. I call it a "guys" lunch because the food is a fantastic blend of carnival style flavors and incredible hot dogs. Three awesomely smothered hot dogs, a chili fry, and 4 bottled cokes later, we rolled out fat and happy.
From there we proceeded to the TYHP hunt and met with Kevin McDaniel at Richter Ranch. I don't know if he is on this site or not, but he is a heck of a guy with a positive attitude and made the weekend all about the kids. He also has a JRT that he is training to blood track and the boys got a chance to watch him work which was very impressive. It was a pretty cold weekend but they had room for us in a steel building and the kids were able to stay out of the wind and set up their cots and sleeping quarters.
The following morning we were up at 5:30 and heading to the stands. A young man by the name of Matt Richter lead the way for Caden and I and stayed in the stand with us during the hunts. On the first morning we saw a minimum of 4 deer, possibly more, but at the distances that we saw some we couldn't tell if they were the same deer from earlier or not. On the first morning we didn't see a good shooter doe so we passed on everything and went back to camp with the anticipation of seeing more later that night.
To pass the time, TYHP and the Richter Ranch brought in a wildlife biologist who spoke with the boys and did a question-and-answer segment with the kids and parents. The biologist did a live demonstration for the boys on how he removes the lymph nodes and checks for CWD. the demonstration and round table conversation with the biologist was very impressive and informative. Throughout the entire weekend though, the Hunt Master and his associates did a great job of keeping the boys interested and entertained, so much so that my son and another hunter picked up the game of corn-hole and got pretty darn good at it.
After the afternoons's activities, the boys got ready to go on their evening hunt and headed out with Matt to a different location. We didn't see much for most of the sit, but shortly before shooting light left us, a fat and mature doe stepped out along a tree line about 70 yards away. She offered a perfect broadside shot while facing to the right, and Matt told Caden to take the shot when he was ready. I was really nervous for Caden, knowing that his nerves were going crazy, and I just hoped that he would be calm enough to hold on target for the shot. We had discussed numerous times in the past that if he wasn't comfortable with the shot, was shaking to much, or if his emotions were telling him not to shoot, then it was completely ok to pass up the shot. Knowing this, it seemed like he held the rifle on the doe for 20-30 seconds and I was just about ready to let him know it was OK not to shoot when the rifle went BOOM! Though the deer hunched up and ran into the treeline right next to her, I could see the moment of impact on the lower shoulder of the deer so I knew it was a good shot and it wouldn't go far. Turns out the doe didn't get far and was laying on the ground not 5 yards from where she was shot. My son was ecstatic and I was over the moon for him. We have been waiting on this moment for awhile now and it was great to finally see it come to fruition. I cant thank TYHP and Richter Ranch enough for all of their work and efforts put in to make hunts happen for our youth. It was an extremely memorable hunt that created memories that will last a lifetime for my son and I.
On a side note, if you notice in the picture above there is no blood and no immediately visible exit wound for a shoulder shot. I will generate another post this afternoon with questions about that along with pictures of the wounds, but I'll make that a separate post.