John Gets His First Deer!
So far this season, I have been running all over North Carolina hunting and filming other team members. I have been trying to set aside some time to take a family friend’s son, John, on his first real deer hunting trip. We’ve been talking back & forth trying to come up with a date. We finally buckled down and I knew that I would be returning from a trip from the North Carolina mountains last week and I could take him to a couple spots that have been unhunted while I was traveling. His mother told me that he was all jacked up waiting for saturday. I called a couple times to see what he had or what he might need but it seemed he was good.
I picked John up about 5:40am and he was wide awake and ready! We loaded up and off to the first property we went. I talked to him about how I wanted us to get into the stand, covering all the safety issues for this set and all the good stuff. We pulled up, got all the gear together and to the stand we went.
It was a slow morning. We heard a couple deer get up and ease off when we got to the stand, which is to be expected on this set. Sometimes a few deer like to bed in a tiny thicket near the stand when they either dont make it to the big bedding areas or they just find that tiny thicket a little more comfy, who knows. As the sun came up I decided to wake up the woods with some good ‘ol horn banging, buck growling, snort weezing music. No takers. Bunch of little punk bucks around here anyways. Figured they might not want a piece of the beast I was portraying.
So after a couple hours of no action I noticed Little John was starting to turn blue. He wasn’t layered enough and all this sitting still started to get to him. I nudged the frozen statue of John and told him to start getting ready to ease out. We got down and headed to the truck.
I had another property I wanted to brush a blind in to get ready for Urban Archery Deer season which starts in January. I figured it might keep him entertained for a while to tag along and see the other side of hunting. It’s not always just walking to a stand that magically appears in the woods and then shooting a deer. While we were in the middle of getting the blind set up, gathering branches and such I got a call from fellow team member, Chris Aldridge. He said they were going to do a few deer drives and asked if I wanted to tag along. I thought it would be cool for John to get a taste of a good ‘ol southern deer drive . So off we went, headed to get together with Chris, A.J. and Aaron.
We hit a couple small thickets and tried to get some fast pace deer running, lead flying, deer drive action…. but we came up short. Nevertheless John got to see what it was all about and the excitement of the chance of seeing a deer come flying through was good enough! As we were all about to part ways to get ready for the afternoon hunt, Chris invited us to take John to one of their properties. “Hey, why don’t ya’ll go grab little man a rifle and the video camera. We’ll put him in a hot spot overlooking this big field and he should be able to kill his first deer.” I told him that sounded like a plan and off we were to gather our gear.
Once we got back to the house I thought for a second, “Maybe I should let John shoot the rifle.” I asked him if he had ever shot a rifle and he responded “I’ve shot a .22.” Yeeeeeaaaaahhhhhh…. we had a 30-06 and a custom built 7mm Magnum for him to choose from. Just a smidge different than shooting a .22 rimfire. I grabbed the 30-06, the good thing was that I just put a Blackhawk Axiom Stock on it that has a 80% recoil reduction action. I lined him up, talked him throught the scope, told him to breath out and squeeze the trigger slowly. BOOM! The rifle kicked him back about a foot and I was a little concerned. He quickly responded “Man that kicked a little more than I expected, let me try it again.” Well that eased my mind that he didn’t get scoped or scared! I chambered another one and he let her fly with no hesitation. He knew what to expect this time. I grabbed the 7mm Magnum to take with us but I didn’t want him to have to endure the punishment of that beast unless we had to.
We met up with Chris and Aaron shortly after. We were cutting it close to get in the stand at 4pm but they knew the deer wouldn’t show up in these fields til almost dark. They dropped us off at a bridge that crossed a little creek which brought us right up behind a huge box stand with 2 office chairs in it. Now we’re talking! I’m so used to hunting out of tiny lock-ons, this was definitely going to be a comfortable sit for the 2 of us.
We got settled in, binoculars in hand, guns loaded and ready. As we waited for the deer to filter into the field, I took the opportunity to pick on John a bit for dozing off a couple times. Told him I’d wake him up if a deer showed up. He just noded and back to sleep he went. Just as he almost slipped into a deep sleep, I looked past him and saw a deer enter the field. “John there’s a deer…. John there’s a deer in the field…. John there’s a DEER!” Finally his eyes shot open and his binoculars made it to his eyes.
It was a small buck. Looked to be a big spike or maybe a 4 pointer. I kept looking at the buck and asked John if he saw the deer. He kept saying yes but he was looking in another direction. I was wondering what he was looking at because he wasn’t looking at the deer I was looking at. I finally scanned the field and noticed not one deer but 4 others were making their way into the field. A big ‘ol mature doe was headed straight to us. I gave him the 30-06 and he started to ease it to the window. Just as he was about to rest the rifle on the window sill, the small buck came running across the field after the doe to scent check her. I told John “Get the gun ready they might run into the woods before you can get a shot.” I was right the doe darted into the woods but the buck stopped just short of the woodline. I guess she wasn’t ready and he wasn’t going to chase her all over town. I told John to get on the buck and take a shot when he got comfortable. He whispered “The deer is looking at us.” I got him in the scope of my 7mag and was looking at his rearend. “No buddy, he’s facing away but you still don’t have a shot.” We waited for the buck to decide what he wanted to do.
Finally after what felt like 30 minutes, the buck started to walk away from us. I kept thinking to myself “Stop… stop… stop…” and told John “When he stops, you shoot him.” He kept on a steady walk though. He kept walking and walking… and walking. He finally stopped when he reached another group of deer out in the field, I ranged him… 138 yards. Whew… that was going to be a poke for John, seeming this was the first time he’s ever really deer hunted and only the third time he’s ever shot my rifle. I whispered to him “Follow the deer’s front leg up to his arm pit, go about halfway up the deer and squeeze the trigger slow.” I heard him to take a deep breath, exhale and BOOM! The buck raised up on his back legs and ran about 10 yards on his back legs before his front legs ever touched the ground again. Deer ran in every direction! I knew the deer was hit good but I lost track of which deer it was when they all took off. We could hear him crash at the edge of the woods and I knew he was down. John was jacked up and so was I! It’s not often you get to take a youth hunting and they kill one on their first time out. We sat there for a second giving each other five and celebrating.
The landowner on this particular farm has a HUGE deer problem and wants every deer possible removed. So after we celebrated for a bit I told John “Let’s chill out for a few minutes and some deer might come back out.” It was getting just at the edge of shooting light when they all started to filter back in the field. Here we go. I got the 7mag on a small doe and let the beast bark. BOOM! Doe down! Another doe looked back wondering what just happened, BOOM! Two Does down!
What a hunt, we had three deer on the ground on John’s first hunt! Not but a few seconds after I shot the second deer Chris and Aaron came walking up behind the Box Stand to see what all the shooting was about. After we tell our story, celebrate a little and gather our gear it was time to start the search for John’s first deer.
Guess what… no good flashlights! All we had was one half dead hat light. Great. Chris started calling the troops and before you know it Bones and Mr. Aldridge were there with about 25 lights. We found some blood in no time and within 15 minutes Mr. Aldridge found John’s buck just inside the field edge. Everyone walked over to it and John was all smiles! Mr. Aldridge said “Boy is this your first deer? First deer, your drag… grab those horns and get to it!” We all laughed, grabbed the rifle from John and watched as he struggled to get the deer out into the field where we could load it in the truck. We scooped up my two yearling does on the way out and headed to the other trucks for pictures and story time.
I am always jacked up to take people out on their first hunt or able to put friends on their first deer. This was one of the youngest kids I have ever taken out to try to shoot one and he did great! I couldn’t have done it without my team though, Chris and Aaron put us in a great spot. That’s what it’s all about, getting the next generation of 704 Outdoors involved. Mission accomplished… another hunter is born!