In my family, by the time you’re able to walk and talk you can already name the different types of trees, identify animal tracks and accurately read deer sign. At a very young age, my father and grandfather kept me in the woods or on the water creating an undying passion. A love for the outdoors has formed a sacred bond within my family that has always kept us extremely close. With that being said, deer hunting has been both a legacy and a big part of our lives that has generated a lot of special memories that even the hands of time can never erase.
In fact, I can still vividly remember shooting my first buck when I was twelve years old. The sudden rush of adrenalin, pounding of my heart and the smells along with the sounds of the woods that morning will stay with me until the very end. However, as sweet as that first deer hunt was, one of my fondest memories in the woods would have to be watching my son take his first buck when he was only nine years old. It was only a small 8-point, but I wouldn’t have traded that deer for the biggest buck in the woods. Since then I have been fortunate enough to watch my son grow into quite a hunter. My son James is now 12 years old and his knowledge of the woods coupled with his ability to accurately shoot a rifle and bow has made me one proud dad!
Last season, we were hunting a highly-pressured tract of public land and were on a really nice buck. I had several encounters with this deer earlier in the bow season, but was unable to connect. On the second day of the Kentucky gun season, James and I eased above a laurel thicket where the buck had been bedding. Just before dark, I spotted the 13-point directly to my right as the buck stepped out of a thick entanglement and began working its way up the long wooded ridge. My son was sitting on the wrong side and I quickly turned him to the right in hopes of getting a shot. Unfortunately, his shooting sticks were still on the left side and we were forced to pull an old squirrel hunting trick that we had used numerous times with his bolt-action .22 rifle.
I firmly grabbed a sapling tree and allowed James to use my left arm as a rest to make the shot. We had done this same thing a hundred times in the woods squirrel hunting. With the buck standing broadside at nearly 70 yards James took a deep breath and gently squeezed the trigger. A loud boom echoed across the ridge and the buck kicked up its hind legs before running only a few yards and crashing into the thicket. The shot was perfect and my son had just taken his biggest buck ever. A flood of emotions overtook me as I began to remember my first deer hunt with my dad and grandfather. About that time, my dad walked up behind us from the next ridge over to share the moment with us. My son was so excited his little hands were trembling and I will never forget how proud he was of this deer or more importantly how much this hunt meant to all of us.
This is truly what hunting is all about and it’s sad that some people will probably never understand what an enormous impact the outdoors can have on your life. It’s really easy today to get caught up in all of the hustle and bustle of work and forget about the important things. As a hunter, I am grateful to have shared and enjoyed the true splendor of the outdoors with my friends and family. Hunting has not only created a strong bond within my family, it has also allowed me to escape the incarcerating clutches of deadlines and commitments that can potentially speed your life away. Time just moves at a slower pace in the outdoors and you learn to appreciate life and your family more. Hunting is a legacy that can potentially change you and your family forever!