- Deer hunting with your kids can help instill family values.
On Friday 11 Nov 2011 my youngest son (9) and I stopped for a kneeling prayer on our lane as we headed out for a short evening deer hunt. We thanked the Lord for the opportunity to hunt together and asked for His guidance. We also asked that we might have a successful hunt or learn something that would put us one step closer to a successful hunt, and that we would have a safe hunt.
- Short hunts are perfect when deer hunting with your kids.
By the time we got on stand and set we had under 40 minutes until the “Hunt Ends” calendar alarm would start vibrating on my phone. Not much time – some might have passed up the opportunity thinking it wasn’t worth the quarter mile hike there to hunt for that short a time. Decades of experience have taught me to get out there – because you certainly won’t shoot a deer if you talk yourself out of hunting when you have the opportunity.
- Include your kids in the decision making process – mentor them through it.
I talked to my son about 4 spots we could go to that were set up for two people. I told him one of them we should probably figure was too far away on other side of road for the time we had to hunt – it would take us too long to walk over there – so that left us with 3 options on our side of the road. He thought we should go to one of our back corners and suggested the SW corner. I told him I agreed we should go to one of our corners but due to wind direction I thought the other corner – the SE corner might be better – so we agreed to go to the SE corner.
- Give your kids something to do while hunting – preferably make them part of the hunt.
I then put my son in charge of calling. Before we went out I had let him choose between just the estrus bleat can or the whole rattling sequence. He chose to go with just the estrus bleat can. (Had I been alone I would have chosen rattling due to bucks hearing it from longer distance – timing was right for EITHER calling approach so I yielded to his choice.)
- Modify tactics to fit shorter hunt.
Since we got on stand with so little hunt time left I explained to my son that we probably shouldn’t wait the typical 20-30 minutes before calling – instead we would wait about 5 minutes. (We had done our best to sneak in – move a little – stop and observe a little – move a little – so we sounded like deer rather than humans moving through the woods.)
- Mentor your kids throughout the deer hunt with “woods wisdom” you have learned.
As our five minute wait was about to expire I heard a squirrel scolding something well to the South of us. I explained to my son that we couldn’t tell what that squirrel was upset about but it was most likely something moving through the woods South of us. It could be another human hunter, somebody’s cat, a fox or coyote, or perhaps a deer, maybe even a buck. I told him I thought we should start calling right then just in case that squirrel was scolding a buck we couldn’t see. I then coached him as to when to call – how long to wait before calling again – and whether to do a single bleat or two or three bleats in a row. He did a good job painting the sound picture of an estrus doe waiting near a scrape (a mock scrape with a scent dripper over it) and calling for a buck. Daylight was fading fast when he let out his last two bleats. Within seconds of those last two bleats I spotted a deer heading North off property we can’t hunt. I told my son “We’ve got one coming – it’s a buck – it’s a nice buck.” I failed to get into position to take a crossbow shot when he hit the first shooting lane on our property but I got into position to take a shot as he passed off our farm onto another farm we have permission to hunt. I bleated with my mouth to stop him – found him in the scope of our GT Flex crossbow – put the 30 yard reticle on top of heart area and squeezed off the shot. I heard the arrow/bolt hit the deer but could not see where I hit.
After watching and listening where the buck went after the shot I pulled out my phone and it read 5:49pm – exactly one minute before Hunting End time. Typically we wait 30 minutes after an archery hit on a deer before get down to look unless we saw the deer fall and stay down. I explained to my son that with the light fading fast we would assume a good hit and try to find the start of the blood trail before we lost the last bit of light – then if we bumped the buck up we would back out and wait longer. We got down and thanked the Lord then asked for His help in recovering the buck. We then tried to take advantage of the rapidly fading light to find the beginning of the blood trail but very quickly realized it would be smarter to head up to the house and get larger, more powerful flashlights than the 1Watt LED I carry.
I took the opportunity at the house to get out of my ScentLok and into jeans, etc. which I wouldn’t mind getting the smell of diesel exhaust and deer blood on. We prayed again for the Lord’s help recovering the buck before we hiked out with 2 – two “D” cell LED MagLites and as we walked I explained to my son that often mortally wounded deer head for thick cover and water. I suggested that based on direction of travel when hit this buck would likely either head North out of the woods into the adjoining standing corn or might go NNE into the swale due to the water there. Accordingly we looked at exit points from the woods (into corn or swale) as well as scanning corn stalks for blood – we didn’t find any. I suggested that perhaps he didn’t get that far or he may have headed further east where there was thick cover and water inside that woodlot. We entered the woodlot and I explained that we should look everywhere on the ground as we worked our way from where we thought he was heading to where the arrow/bolt hit him because we might just find the buck before we got back to where he was hit. If we did not find him then we would have to find and then follow the blood trail. As we moved along my nine year old son suddenly looked back and off to the side and said “there he is Dad!” So this nice 8pt was called in by a 9yr old – shot by a 50yr old – then found by a 9yr old. We weighed him before and after field dressing. Before field dressing he weighed 198 lbs. After field dressing he weighed 160 lbs. — Oh, my son said “Next year you’re the caller man Dad!” And I will gladly be his “caller man” – I can’t wait to help him tag his first deer. It was a GREAT hunt. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!! Happy Hunting!!