I have waited since the day my children were born for the time where I could take them out to the field and harvest their first game. I only hoped they would have as much interest as I do with hunting as I never want my children to feel pressured into doing something they don’t enjoy. Both my two oldest, which are boys, have done so and are hooked. My two youngest are daughters (12 & 8 yoa) and have always expressed interest about my hunts but haven’t been able to make it out with me. I tried really hard last year but couldn’t pull them away from gymnastic practices. I eased off and figured it would happen if it was meant to be. Neither ever went with me last year.
Fast forward to this year, the last week of October I was bow hunting and had this really nice 8 point come in. I watched him for 30+ minutes and thought, this would be a great deer for my oldest daughter to shoot. He had been coming in fairly regularly so I put the bow down and just thought about what might be. Upon arriving home, as usual my daughter and others asked if I got anything. I responded, “no, but I saw a really great 8 point that has your name on it” pointing to my oldest daughter. I showed her some pictures and she was really excited about going.
Unbeknownst to me she had been telling everyone at school and gymnastics she was going hunting with her dad Saturday morning. I found out Thursday night that she had informed her gymnastics coach she was skipping gym and going hunting with her dad. Fortunately his response was, “well bring me some jerky”.
Friday night I had her lay out all of her clothes and gear as we would be leaving at 4:15a.m. Also that night I got out the rifle she would be using, her older brothers Browning X-Bolt 6.5 Creedmoor. I showed her how to cycle the action, use the safety, and get familiar with the scope and shouldering the rifle. We went over rifle safety and then went through several dry firings where her goal was to squeeze the trigger without moving the crosshairs off the mark on the wall she had it pointed at. All was a go. I then found a broadside buck image on the internet and went through the proper place to aim.
3:45 a.m. came early but she was straight out of bed and in the truck unlike any other school day. The hour drive to the lease was filled with initial joy and excitement soon to fade away with silence and sleep. We got about 1000 yds away from the blind, unloaded and began our approach. Into the blind we went quietly and unnoticed by 5:30a.m. We sat there for a good while going back over all of the things we had rehearsed the night before. Shortly before the feeder went off at 7:10, there he was. We talked it over, let her look and watch the deer for a bit and I asked, “what are your thoughts on this deer, is it something you want to shoot”. As she said yes, another buck I had never seen before showed up. He was a bigger bodied deer, older for sure but he was narrower and had shorter tines. I gave her the option of which she wanted and she said I want the wider one. After some posturing and squaring off, the two bucks finally separated and fed off in different directions. The wider 8 presented a broadside shot and I gave my daughter the go ahead. Maybe 3 seconds later there was gun powder in the air. Zero hesitation as I watched through my binoculars and saw a puff of hair blow off right in the boiler room. The buck turned and dashed coming to a crash 30 yds away.
For a young lady who has only ever shot rim fire and pellet guns she absolutely crushed it. Ear muff in tow the muzzle blast per her was “very quiet” and “the recoil was nothing”. Shooting Hornady 143g ELD-X The smile says it all. And proof for the boys, straight through the heart and lungs, 1 shot kill. I now have another life long “hunting buddy”. This is what life is all about. Success is not measured by the harvest but by the .MEMORIES you share!!!!! Looking forward to many more outings with her. Next up. our little squirt, the youngest!