The Jackson household is full of hunters. I have three boys and a girl and they can all shoot better than me! As they’ve grown we’ve spent a lot of time in the outdoors hunting and fishing with them. They are now getting to the age where they can handle a gun by themselves. Of course, they never hunt alone as we hunt in pairs and I ensure everyone’s arrivals and departures from their stands. The kids are motivated to learn more about hunting and are eager to gain responsibilities. They are growing up right in front of our eyes.
The past two deer seasons I have been preparing for my middle son (Bryson) and youngest son (Kingston) to shoot their first bucks! My oldest (Caiden) harvested his first buck 3 years ago at the age of 7 and that's what I hoped would happen with my other two.
Rules for the First Buck
Now you should know that for my kid’s first bucks I have no restrictions on the size. Your family may operate under different rules and that’s fine, but that’s not how it is at our house. We have plenty of deer in our area and I wouldn't take away the potential excitement from the kids getting their first buck trying to make them wait on a trophy buck. Kids have short attention spans and success in the field, (whether a Boone & Crocket deer or not) is my initial goal for them. I want them to be encouraged and feel that hunting is something that they can be successful at. I believe as a kid they should enjoy and appreciate the experience and not have to be on pins and needles worrying about if they shot the wrong buck. I don’t want them to hunt putting pressure on themselves. Again, I know some of you may not agree with this tactic, but my goal is for them to not be discouraged early on in their hunting careers. Also, I manage this land and we eat deer and hog meat every night and we have yet been able to eat horns!
Bryson’s First Buck
As I teach the kids about deer hunting I like to make them think. To do this, I often ask them situational questions to both help them consider various scenarios and to help them learn to think critically. On September 17th, Bryson and I were discussing strategies for the evening’s hunt. After considering his options, Bryson decided (on his own) what stand he wanted to hunt as he had checked the wind to make sure that stand would be a good one.
I (Dad/Gavin) knew that there was a small buck coming by this stand everyday like clockwork so I had that feeling it was going to happen. However, Bryson didn't know this. As I mentioned earlier, we hunt in pairs… that is, 2 brothers sitting in the stand together. On this hunt Bryson got settled in the stand with his older brother Caiden and they sat still and quiet for about an hour and half. To their surprise a 6 point that weighed 121 lbs eased out of the woods into the shooting lane. As Bryson was eager to get his first buck, he wasted no time getting the Ruger .308 to his shoulder. The deer was about 50 yards out and Bryson slowly squeezed off. Bryson’s decision on the stand to hunt that evening paid off as he made a perfect shot on the deer. The deer ran maybe 15 yards and fell. Bryson was on the board with his first buck!
Talk about excited, he was hyped up and knew that he had just killed his first buck! As excited as he was I think my wife and I were probably more excited for him! We took pictures and as tradition as has it, we bloodied him up at the processor. Later, Bryson told me that the hunt was his best hunt ever and that he thought he wasn't going to see anything and then all of sudden the buck stepped out. Congrats to Bryson on working hard, being patient, and making the perfect shot!
Kingston’s First Buck
My youngest son Kingston has been hunting with me probably 50+ times and for whatever reason we never could get him on a buck. We’ve had a bunch of close calls but just couldn't make it happen.
On September 23rd that all changed…
Kingston had been hunting for 2 days straight as he was extra-motivated to kill his first deer since he now was living with the self-imposed pressure of his brothers already having killed their first bucks. Here again I asked him questions about where to hunt, why to hunt there, and the wind. Kingston picked his stand and I told him that would be a good stand because the wind was perfect. I also knew that there were several bucks working that area and I hoped one would show up in shooting light.
Kingston got in the stand with his older brother Caiden and they had been sitting for about an hour. It was getting about time for deer to move when two bucks stepped out on the edge of the field at about 100 yards. As you may imagine, Kingston didn't waste a second getting down to business. He wanted to get the monkey off his back so he was ultra-focused.
Within a minute he was in the Ruger .308 and had made great shot on one of the bucks! The deer fell on the spot and rolled about 10 feet. I was sitting in another stand not too far away and I knew he’d got his first buck when I heard a gunshot then heard them hollering and celebrating. You could have heard it from a mile away. The boys got down from the stand and headed toward the deer.
Little did they know that when they got down to the deer the other buck would be standing in the woods looking at them. Yes, I found this amazing as I always try to be quiet, control my scent, and do everything that to not spook deer and here these kids were yelling loudly and the second buck stayed around! Well, with the second deer staring at them Caiden did what you would expect. He pulled up the .308 and shot it! It was a Jackson brothers double-buck hunt!
Now the excitement was really happening! They boys had practiced their shooting this summer and it paid off because no tracking was needed. We just pulled up to the deer, took some pics, loaded up, and headed to the house before going to the processor. One of the best parts was hearing the boys tell their mama the story of the hunt, which we recorded and you can see in the below video. They were amped up to the max and talked all night about their first buck!
Bryson age 9 finally got his first buck on Sept 17th and Kingston age 7 got his on Sept 23rd which was a double-buck hunt with his older brother Caiden! Needless to say, it has been exciting times around our house lately… and I may have to order more deer tags if they keep it up like this.
Ok so I did get a little extreme on Kingston’s bloodying at the processor, but it's what he asked for.
Congrats to Kingston for his patience and congrats to all the boys for their hard work and shooting abilities. So far, this past summer and deer season the kids have all been very helpful and have hunted every time they could go. Caiden has really lucked out as he was able to be with both of his brothers when they shot their first buck. Now that the hard work has finally paid off we can start the discussions about game management, mature deer, and trophy bucks.
I’m sure this story is just one of many more to come. It's awesome and exciting to watch and experience these kids growing up, learning about the outdoors, and shooting their first bucks. We are indeed blessed and we give God all the glory!
A while back someone on twitter saw a link to our site and checked it out. Their response tweet was that they liked the design of the site and that it fired them up and made them "want to go kill something?" Obviously this individual doesn''t have a clear understanding of what hunting is all about as his words were a window into his personal view of hunting ...or should I say his trouble distinguishing the difference between hunting and killing.
I often meet people who are non-hunters and sometimes over the course of conversation we end up talking about hunting. Inevitably the conversation trends towards the hunting vs. killing debate. It usually surfaces in the form of "How can you shoot those helpless little creatures?" or "You try to kill Bambi?" This statement is typically a strong indicator that the person asking the question has never hunted.
I'd like to take a look into the hunting vs. killing debate from a hunter's perspective. Let's use a critical lens to analyze and deconstruct the meaning of hunting and also killing. What are the differences between hunting and killing? Where do the differences lie? What are the signs of both a "hunter" and a "killer"? Let's start the investigation by looking at hunters.
Hunters, first and foremost, have totally different motivations, thought processes, and core values than a "killer" does. The fundamental values of a hunter affect the way he/she views the sport. A hunter's beliefs and values prompt actions that are direct indicators that the individual is a true hunter. Over time these fundamental differences are outwardly manifested in the activities in which hunters engage. For this reason, you will find hunters involved in activities in which you will never see "killers" involved. These belief-motivated actions can be noticed both in-season as well as during the off-season.
In the off-season a hunter still enjoys many aspects of hunting. This is because being a hunter doesn't come for a season and then leave, its not seasonal, it's a way of life. Some examples of these off-season activities are those such as "shed" hunting where finding a deer's shed antlers is the goal, or with training any hunting dogs that a hunter may have, doing off-season scouting, competing in target shooting competitions and/or calling competitions, attending trade shows, moving deer stands, building duck blinds, practicing calling techniques, researching, planting and maintaining food plots to help with the health and nutritional diet of the deer, turkeys, ducks or other game in the hunter's area, or even watching hunting TV shows.
During the season a hunter doesn't merely look to harvest anything that walks through the woods, but rather is selective about the game that he or she does choose to harvest. A hunter won't shoot more meat than he or she needs in his freezer. Hunters also help less fortunate people by donating deer meat to them. It's common to find hunting clubs or deer processors working with local organizations supporting the needy. A hunter takes pride in being able to watch an animal mature over time and is challenged to hold the game in their area. A hunter also has a true appreciation for nature and the patterns found within nature denoting intelligent design from above. Hunters grow to appreciate the stillness of being in the middle of the woods, field, swamps, etc where one can momentarily elude the business and noise of everyday life. Sitting on the ground, in a stand, or in a blind offers one the time and place to ponder the wonders of the universe or anything else that may come to mind. The serenity hunters find out in nature can't be found in too many other locations and gives some hunters a natural high. This tranquil and peaceful place is where the hunter remains until he/she either encounters the game or the end of the hunt. Sure, a hunter wants to harvest an animal, yet he/she still enjoys the hunt whether an animal was harvested or not. When the game does arrive, whether it is a duck, boar, turkey, deer, etc hunters enjoy the instant rush that comes over us. The instant rush of adrenaline, rather than the kill, is what gets hunters hooked.
A hunter also has the discipline to watch their game for hours and never pull the trigger. When a hunter does pull the trigger, it is a calculated moment that has been in the making for some time rather than being a moment that randomly happens by chance. Harvesting an animal is the culmination of many factors some of which are: off-season scouting, scent control, successful hunting tactics, food plot, land/game management, successful calling, well trained dogs, and yes, an accurate shot. All of these factors coming together at once is not an easy feat to pull off. Therefore, when an animal is harvested it's the intersection of preparation, patience, and nature.
Hunters usually have hunting partners with whom they go hunting and spend time. Having a hunting partner is a good safety measure, it helps when any work needs to be done, and offers a chance for fellowship while participating in an activity that both individuals enjoy. It's commonplace to find fathers and sons hunting together. You see hunters also care about passing the tradition on to younger hunters. Because of the burden to share the sport and experiences in the outdoors, hunters strongly support activities which promote and educate hunting to youth. Fathers also appreciate the opportunity that hunting gives them to spend time with their children.
To see what happens when a non-hunting, father-son, duo goes hunting and realizes the rush of the hunt and the experience that they'd just had together see the below video
Hunters also get involved with organizations that support their sport and focus on the conservation of the sport so that everyone can continue to enjoy the outdoors. Organizations like Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Ducks Unlimited (DU), National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), and the National Rifle Association (NRA) are ones that you'll see true hunters get involved with. These organizations bring a wealth of research, information, and synergy to their respective sport of hunting and work for the greater good of the hunting community as a whole. Hunters get involved with these organizations because the core principles and values of the organizations align with the core principles and values of the hunter.
The last thing I'll mention is that, due to the strong differences between hunters and killers, you'll seldom find hunters associating with killers, the two just don't mesh. Sure they may bump into each other at a processing plant every now and then, but you won't see them together much other than that. The old saying goes "You are what you hang around" and because of this notion, hunters are careful about the company they keep. Take a look at the people around you who hunt and think about who they do and don't hang around to see if it holds true.
We all have different perspectives, but the above is my perception on what makes a hunter and how you can identify and distinguish a hunter from a killer. Since I've elaborated on what I believe comprises a hunter, now let's look at the other side of the fence. Let's look at characteristics that I believe make up a "killer".
A "killer" is essentially the opposite of all the characteristics mentioned above that encompass a hunter. In my opinion, killers give hunters a bad reputation. In the same way that you'll see a hunter involved in specific activities and carrying out certain behaviors, you'll see killers not taking part in certain activities and also engaging in contrasting behaviors. Most of the time a killer's behaviors are in stark contrast to those of a hunter.
In contrast to a hunter, a killer does not appreciate the hunt because the hunt is what stands between them and a kill. Killers don't genuinely appreciate the wait, the silence, and the necessary time in a stand/blind that most hunters love because a killer doesn't really enjoy the peacefulness of nature, but rather is in a hurry to pull the trigger.
Killers don't respect the land they hunt on or animals they harvest. They don't mind littering or damaging the land they hunt on because the environment and conservation is not of their concern. Killers are also what we like to call "trigger-happy" and will shoot the first deer, turkey, duck etc. that they see. In the deer hunting world killers live by the motto "If it's brown it's down" because they're not concerned with game management or limits. I remember an instance related to this topic that happened when I was a kid that still sticks out to me.
In the mid 90's we were at one of our locals processing plants and everyone was talking about deer hunting while the guys were cleaning deer. The environment was the normal, upbeat, good-humored, environment that you've probably experienced before at a processing plant. We had been there about 20 minutes when some guys came up and bought in a very young doe. The deer was so small that it looked like it had just got rid of its spots. At the time I didn't really know what was going on because I was so young, but I distinctly remember the old man that was processing the deer's reaction to the situation. The guys drug the small deer up and immediately the whole processing plant went silent. Tension was in the air and it was thick. I vividly remember the awkwardness of the moment. The guy who shot the deer said he wanted some "tender meat" and that did not go over well at all with the processor. He gave the guy a death-stare and then shook his head in disappointment to let him know that what he had done was wrong. After that the whole place remained quiet until the individuals who brought the deer in left. Being young, I didn't exactly understand what had just taken place, but my dad explained it to me on the way home. In retrospect, I now respect the processor even more because even he didn't want to make money cleaning a deer that was so young because he respected the game and disliked doing business with a killer.
Another sign to look for that denotes a killer is what they do in the off-season. Killers rarely participate in, and do not enjoy, the off-season work that hunters love because its actual work and it doesn't involve or even come close a kill. Hunters know that working in the off-season can help their game and also keeps the hunter's flame burning year round. Killers on the other hand may do some off-season work, but from what I can tell, they don't seem to be too motivated about it.
After a killer does harvest a deer, they commonly boast about the kill as if it builds social status whether their animal was a trophy animal or not. Of course a hunter may brag about a nice deer, duck, turkey, etc they've harvested, but they won't go to the extent of self-promotion that a killer will. A true hunter doesn't need any self-promotion and doesn't thrive on his reputation because to a hunter it's not a competition, but to a killer, it is.
Killers aren't interested in taking others hunting because it only lessens their chances of making a kill. Sure everyone hunts by themselves at some point in time, but (if okay with the hunting club and/or land-owner) a hunter is always open to taking another person hunting, especially a kid because a hunter wants to share the enjoyment of the sport. A killer's viewpoint on that matter is the opposite because he/she isn't interested in sharing the sport as much.
Killers aren't concerned with adhering to the state/county regulations on game and don't mind breaking the rules because they don't respect the game, land, or sport as much as a hunter does. Due to this lack of adherence to rules & regulations killers will do things such as spotlighting deer at night, shooting before legal shooting time, hunting on land that isn't theirs, harvesting more animals than they are legally supposed to, etc. For whatever reason, a killer seems to feel above the law.
In the above paragraphs I've used a critical lens to compare, contrast, and note my view on the characteristics of both the "hunter" and the "killer". Looking deeper into the debate and deconstructing the meaning from a hunter's perspective provides unique insight with which you have the right to agree or disagree.
The term "Epistemology" refers to one's "way of knowing" and really forces one to ask the question "How do I know what I know to be truth?" Knowledge is derived from the merging of what we know to be true (truths) and what we believe (beliefs). This is demonstrated by the graph on the right.
Given an epistemological viewpoint, one can be more informed about hunters from understanding a hunter's core values and beliefs. One must know the truths about hunters and understand the sport from a hunter's perspective in order to be knowledgeable and informed in the debate. Looking at hunting from the vantage point of a hunter offers valuable insight for non-hunters and those who are critical of hunters.
Determining whether an outdoorsman is a hunter or a killer is a judgment that can only be made on an individual basis. Stereotyping hunters as blood hungry killers is unfair because many times that is simply not the case. I'm not denying that there are some killers out there. I'm just saying that you can't call us all killers until you get to know us and understand us a little.
I recently met our 2011 Montana Decoy Turkey Competition winners to give them their prizes. As you are most likely aware, our site audience voted and Mark and William emerged as our winners. After the announcement we had to schedule and coordinate a meeting place to deliver the prizes. Since Mark and William hail from areas distant from each other we had to line it up for different days and it even was raining as Mark received his prizes. Nevertheless we still got it done, but we didn?t shoot much video? just pictures. It was definitely a good day for William Babb and Mark Cody when we met and they were all smiles as I got the prizes out of my car.
Below are the pictures and videos from the winners receiving their prizes.
Below is a video of the winners receiving their prizes
Thanks again to our sponsors and to everyone for participating in our 2011 Turkey Competitions! Without our sponsors and participants none of this would have been possible!
One of my most favorite parts of working on the web site is to be able to give the competition winners their prizes! One of the winners quoted this past weekend ?Shooting the deer was good enough, now this is just the icing on the cake!? and that?s what it?s all about! Seeing the winners smile while they get their prizes makes us feel good and is rewarding for us too!
Again our winners were (See pics of the winner's deer):
The winners received some great prizes from our sponsors and each left with a handful of goodies to play with and we hope to get some ?field test? reports from them as well. I think in total we gave out just short of $2,000 worth of prizes to the winners. This is pretty good for the site just being a little over 1 year old and we hope it will get even better in years to come.
We did get some interviews from this year?s winners so check it out in the video below. Thanks again to the sponsors and to everyone who participated. Be sure to tune in early next season to see what competitions we?re hosting, what rules we?re enforcing, and what prizes you can win.
I’ve been hunting pretty hard this season. My wife and I are expecting our first child in February so I’m hunting as much as I can before the baby arrives. All season long I’ve been letting deer walk in hopes of connecting with a big buck. As you would expect, the big bucks show up on the stands I’m not hunting or they come out at night. In the game of chess with nature, I’ve been losing… at least with the big bucks.
Leading up to Thanksgiving I noticed a buck I hadn’t seen previously showing up on my game camera. He was nice and he was cutting it close to shooting light with the time of his arrivals. I started paying more attention. The day before Thanksgiving he showed up in broad daylight at 8am. I thought to myself that the next day, Thanksgiving morning, might make for an interesting hunt. I’ve shot a nice buck on 3 out of the last 4 Thanksgivings. See here, here, and here if you want to read those stories.
The weather forecast indicated it would be 28 degrees on Thanksgiving morning - it was going to be a great morning to hunt and I was eager to see what would unfold...
My Hunting Partner, Back from College
If you see some of my hunting related tweets you may know that Coach Sam Mungo is my main hunting partner. Sam finally got where he could carry a bag of corn and then he left me and went off to Clemson! I’m not sure how he worked it out with Dabo, but they let him come home over the Thanksgiving break.
In early October Sam started asking me what time I was going to pick him up to go hunting on Thanksgiving Day (read: he was excited to come home and go hunting). Nearly every day he would text or call asking what was going on with the deer. I had to give him daily reports and I told him that I’d been seeing some good deer on the game camera. As the days and weeks passed he started smack talking me. He’d tell me “You can’t kill that big deer without me!” I think he wants to claim to be the good luck charm.
As I mentioned above, the closer Thanksgiving got the more that new buck started showing up on camera. Most of the places I take Sam hunting are locations where we have good cover and body movements are shielded by a box stand, burlap, or thick brush. Sam and I both like to move around a little bit while deer hunting so we hunt in locations that afford us some “wiggle room” if you will. Though, the deer that was showing up in daylight was showing up near the stand that was the most exposed. This stand was on a tree out in the middle of everything with no burlap and no cover. It would be easy to get busted on this stand. Any movement would be clearly visible to a deer ultimately resulting in an unsuccessful hunt.
I realized that we would need to hunt this stand to have the best chances for a big buck, but also realized that we would be packed in tight with zero margin for error on a very cold Thanksgiving morning. It was going to be a risky hunt. Because of this I started preaching to Sam weeks ahead of time about how we had to be still, not talk, and be focused to have the best chances
Thanksgiving Day Hunt
The time had come. I woke up around 5:30 and went and picked Sam up. When we arrived back at the house I realized Sam didn’t have any gloves or a facemask. I knew this wasn’t a recipe for success so I quickly outfitted him with new gear and put a thick jacket and pants on top of everything he already had. I had told him that we would not be leaving the stand just because he was cold.
We headed out to the cutover in my Pioneer. It was very cold and the wind in your face on a day like that really reinforces the fact that you have to want it to put yourself through that kind of stuff. By the time we got to the middle of the cutover the tears the wind created in my eyes had been pushed to the side of my face and dried on my skin. We had arrived to the stand.
On this hunt we didn’t have any action early in the morning. Once the sun got up we had a spike buck roll through. Sam was sitting on the left and I was on the right. I had to remind Sam a few times to hold still as he made big movements with his arms as he adjusted his facemask several times. These sweeping movements are the kind that deer can see from far off. Though he moved more than I would have liked for him to, when the buck came out he was very still.
We’d been sitting in the stand about 3 hours when I couldn’t feel my toes any more. I asked Sam if he could feel his and he said no. I asked him if he was cold, he replied “no”. I then told him that I was freezing. Sam turned to me and said “You know we can go to Larry Courtney’s and get some coffee and a biscuit right?” lol! I laughed him, but it wasn’t too long before I took him up on the notion of getting some coffee to warm up.
The big buck had eluded us, but we still enjoyed being out there. We’d have to give it a shot the next day and Sam is not a half-hearted hunter, he would no doubt be right there with me the next morning.
Black Friday Hunt
With the previous day’s hunt behind us we were ready to head back out with hopes that the big buck would show. This time I made sure that Sam had enough clothes. We arrived early and made our way into the stand. It was cold, the air was crisp, and the ground was covered in frost. The sun started to rise. Sam was doing well and I told him that it was “Deer:30” and that the deer should be moving shortly.
It was just light enough to where you could see decently across the cutover. As all hunters know, it was that window of time when you really pay attention because deer move a lot in this time frame. I was scanning the cutover when I thought I saw something move to the right. I re-focused and sure enough, I saw what appeared to be a deer coming from the block of woods on our right. I whispered to Sam “Do not move” and I knocked the safety off.
As the deer advanced out of the woods and into the cutover he walked the path of the highest point over the crest of the hill. By walking this specific path he gave me a good view of his body and rack because I could contrast it against the pink of the rising sun. It looked like a scene from a painting. He took a few steps and stopped. He looked up at us. We didn’t move. He took a few more steps and looked the other way. I moved the gun up and got in the scope. Sure enough, this was the buck I’d been recently seeing on game camera. Time was of the essence and I needed to act quickly.
I zoomed the scope in just a bit and put the crosshairs on his shoulder. I could shoot while he was walking, but I’d much prefer to shoot when he paused. He was halfway over the hill by now and I was trusting that Sam was holding still beside me. Then the deer paused and looked up at us at about 80 yards out. I put the crosshairs on him and slowly squeezed the trigger. I made sure to not pull the trigger quickly so as to not flinch and make a bad shot. Within a few seconds the gun went off and I saw the deer instantly fall to the ground!
I couldn’t believe what had just taken place. I took a breath and turned to Sam and said “We did it buddy we did it!” and we high fived in the stand. Sam instantly got excited and went straight into the 100 question sequence wanting to know who would we show it to, what were we doing next, and when we were going to the processor. Sam was in a hurry to get the show on the road and I told him I needed to calm down for a minute and take in the moment. I took some deep breaths, made sure my safety was back on, and we celebrated a little more.
We then made our way down the stand and across the cutover. Even though I saw the deer instantly fall I was still somewhat nervous as we approached. It’s been a long season so until I had my hands on him I wasn’t holding my breath. It didn’t take long until we saw the buck laying on the ground. He was a nice one and I took a few pics of him and made Sam hold him for a pic. I posted an update to Facebook and Twitter and then we soaked in the moment for a little bit more before we drug the deer to the Pioneer and loaded him up.
After we got the deer loaded up we took our celebration ride back out of the cutover and to the house. We then got my mom to take some more pics in a better location. Yes, you know your mama loves you when she wakes up at 7:30am in 28-degree weather to take pics of you and a deer! Then we proceeded to go around town showing people the deer and eventually made our way to the processor! It was a big day for us and we made it last as long as we could.
For me it was a quality buck that makes all those days of pre-season work, constant corn-hauling and game-cam checking, hunting, waiting, and watching deer worth it. To be able to get a nice buck like that is something special and to do it with Sam right there with me made it even more special. For Sam it was another test passed in his hunting career. He has gotten to the level to where he can hold still when he has to and our confidence levels are going up!
It was a hunt that I’ll never forget and as you would imagine, Sam is already asking me when I’m going to pick him up for hunts when he gets home for Christmas break. Before long he’ll tell me “You can’t kill a big buck without me!” Turns out I’ve got another buck showing up that he and I may take pictures with soon so stay tuned…