"We're going to get one tonight" JD whispered as we settled in for the evening hunt. I was a little more skeptical because as I cut a thread on the burlap surrounding the stand with my CRKT "Brow Tine" knife a bead of sweat dripped from my forehead. It was a very warm October 15th. The double stand that we have set up faces west and with little shade the bright sun had JD and I squirming for any available shade.
The deer seemed to have similar thoughts as well. Just as the shooting lane filled with shade the deer started to ease in for an evening snack. With a little less than an hour of shooting light and deer already starting to move into the food plot I started to believe in what JD told me earlier.
The first two deer that entered the food plot were a doe and her fawn. We watched these two for a few minutes when the doe shook her head and then darted through the food plot as if to signal that something had her on edge. As the fawn followed the doe out of the food plot I whispered to JD, "There might be a buck behind them." Before I could barely finish that statement a buck entered the food plot. "There's a buck!"
JD and I had hunted several times during the week and had seen a good number of deer on those hunts. On those hunts we really put our Mckenzie Scent Fan Duffle bag and Atsko scent products to the test as a front moving in off the coast had the wind blowing at our backs. On each hunt we had deer in close and not one time did a deer wind us. On this hunt though we had the wind in our favor and with plenty of daylight left I thought to myself, "We are going to get one tonight".
For this to be true though I knew that we were going to need the buck to close the distance before I would give JD the green light. The buck entered the food plot a good two hundred yards out and would need to get within a hundred yards for a comfortable shot. The buck seemed to be torn between the doe and the oats and turnips we had planted. He would drop his head and chase the doe but soon lose focus and start to eat again. With this patterning continuing it seemed likely that he would soon be within range. As the buck made his way closer JD filled my ear with questions. "How much do you think he weighs?" "How far away is he?" "What do you think?"
As I watched the deer move down the food plot, my words to JD were, "I think he would be a great first deer." JD took a deep breath and I could tell he was starting to get really excited. The buck finally had made his way to the bottom of the hill and now he stood at one hundred yards. I whispered to JD to get ready and ease the safety off. I told him when the deer took a step forward to put the cross hairs right behind the front shoulder and squeeze the trigger. As the buck took that step forward my heart was pounding because I knew this was the moment we had been waiting for. Without hesitation JD squeezed the trigger and the buck dropped. As I watched through my camera's viewfinder I could tell that the buck was down but I quickly told JD to load another cartridge. To my surprise the buck jumped up. JD fired another shot just over the bucks back. The buck turned and sat on the right edge of the food plot. "Load another round!", I exclaimed. It was at that point I thought the first shot might have hit him high. The buck staggered up again and headed for the cutover. JD fired another shot and the buck disappeared.
Every deer hunter knows that feeling that overwhelms you after you shoot a deer. I think JD and I both were shaking like a leaf as we tried to plan our next move. I replayed the video and JD's first shot looked like it hit high and back some. We waited about thirty minutes and then walked through the food plot to mark the spot of where the deer entered the cutover. We found a little bit of blood where the buck had sat down but as we searched the edge of the cutover there were no signs of blood. If any of you have ever searched for a deer in a cutover you know how hard it is to navigate the briars and thick brush. With the darkness set in and no sign of a blood trail, I thought it would be good to go to plan B. We went back to my house and reviewed the footage over and over again. With the shot being high I thought it would be better to give the deer time instead of pushing him out and eliminating our chance of recovery. We decided to wait until daylight and get some help from my neighbor.
My neighbor had always told me that if we couldn't find a deer to call him and he would get his Labrador Retriever to help. So I called him the next day, and in a moments notice he had Haley ready to "Hunt Dead". I picked JD up and we headed over to the food plot. Haley got on the trail quick but we couldn't keep up so we decided to start over. This time my neighbor stayed right on Haley's tail and within a few minutes we recovered the deer. A sigh of relief from me and big "Woooo!" from JD echoed through the thicket.
JD had just harvested his first deer. A four point, 120 pound buck! The buck had three points on his left side and a cowhorn on its right side. Definitely a great first deer! I couldn't have been happier and I think JD feels the same.
Words can't really describe the feelings of sharing this experience with my cousin JD. I think this will be something that he will always cherish and I know I will. I was really impressed with his patience during our hunts and I think he is officially a deer hunter. He has learned so much not only through the things I've tried to teach him but also from all of the others who have helped us along the way. And I can't thank everyone enough.
JD, you did a great job and I can't be more proud! I think you got a pretty cool birthday present this year buddy! Check out the video below of the hunt.
Do you remember your first deer rifle? If you're like me you probably can remember just about everything about your first rifle. My first deer rifle was a Remington Semi-Auto .243 that my Dad bought at a local gun shop. It was a heavy gun and because of that we traded it for a Remington Model 700 .270 the next year. It was with the .270 that I killed my first deer.
Choosing a rifle is one of the most important things you do when preparing a young hunter for their first season. Confidence in your rifle is very important and with a young hunter it is imperative that you build that confidence by choosing the correct rifle. We often hear debates about what is the best caliber but to me it more about confidence than caliber. You can build that confidence by finding a rifle that fits.
I think JD has found the rifle that fits him. JD bought a Remington Model 700 Youth .308 from Sportsman Inc. located in Newport, SC over the weekend. I wasn't able to tag along when he bought it but based on what JD told me it sounded like an awesome experience. The staff at Sportsman Inc. went above and beyond to make sure JD had everything he needed for his first rifle. On Saturday we packed up and headed to my friend Rick's house to get the scope mounted and sighted in.
As we arrived at Rick's house and stepped from the car a cool breeze signaled that deer season was just around the corner. I couldn't have been more excited about watching JD shoot his first rifle. It didn't take long and Rick had JD's scope which is a Nikon 3x9x50 mounted and ready for the shooting range. We set up a bench at 25 yards and got everything ready. We took some time to give JD some safety instructions and get him comfortable with his set up. Again safety and getting familiar with the rifle goes along with building that confidence that is so important.
We had a minor hiccup before JD made his first shot. The mount screw for the scope was a hair too long and wasn't allowing the bolt to close. Rick was on top of it and within minutes he had the screw filed down and the gun ready again. JD got set up and made his first shot at 25 yards. I was eager to see the recoil from the rifle because that is definitely something you want to manage when starting a youngster out shooting. To help with this JD bought Remington's managed recoil ammunition. On the box it stated that it reduces recoil by 50% and I was sold after watching JD make a few shots. We shot about three rounds at 25 yards and then backed up to 50 yards. After making a few more shots we finally backed up to 100 yards. JD shot about nine rounds down range and with each shot you could see his confidence rise.
It was a fun day of shooting and I can't thank Rick enough for his help. We got to teach JD a few things about safety and shooting and we watched JD start to build a bond with his rifle. He's a pretty darn good shot! Now it's time to go hunting!
What do you remember about shooting your first rifle? Check out JD's first shots in the video below.
When I was twelve years old my Dad gave me my first knife. If I close my eyes I can still picture that day and remember thinking how cool it was to have my own knife. It wasn't much to brag about but you couldn't tell me that at the time. I spent many hours whittling on sticks in the woods with that knife. It was a small black folding knife that to this day I have tucked away in a special place.
With this being JD's first deer season I thought it would be special if I could get him a knife that he could not only use but cherish for the rest of his life. I knew JD was no stranger to knives because he often had one on his side or in his pocket when we would go on fishing trips over the summer. With that being said I wanted to make sure the knife he got for his first hunting season was special in every way.
About ten years ago I bought a "Pikes Peak" pocket knife from CRKT - Columbia River Knife and Tool. I was always looking for a good pocket knife and when I bought that knife I hit the jackpot. The knife has held strong since I bought it ten years ago. The only hiccup was about two years after I bought the knife when the clip that attaches with three Torx screws came off in my pocket and I lost one of the screws. The next day I called CRKT and within the week I had a new clip and three new screws. The representative I talked to was very helpful and gave me a tip of putting Loctite on the screws before I reassembled. From that point forward that knife has been rock solid.
Based on prior history, I knew that CRKT was the company I wanted to use to find JD a knife for his first season. With their help, we found the perfect knife in the Russ Kommer Brow Tine. When the box came in the mail I could hardly stand it. When I opened the box and pulled the knife from its tooled leather sheath I was pumped. The stag antler handle fit perfectly in my hand and I could see my reflection in the stainless steel mirror finished blade. As a hunter this was a dream knife and I couldn't wait to give it to JD.
Unfortunately when the knife arrived we were in the middle of about a week's worth of rain. I wanted to surprise JD with the knife, so I waited until the weather cleared up. The weather finally gave us a break last Monday so I called JD and asked if he wanted to go check on the food plots. I told JD I was going to do an update video for the blog but as we started the video I told him to look in my camo bag. As he pulled out the box I think I was about as excited as I could be. JD was totally surprised and I don't think he has stopped smiling since. Now he has an awesome hunting knife to carry on his side this year. Inscribed on the side of the knife it says field tested. Hopefully we can put those words to use this year in JD's first season.
I think JD will cherish that knife for a very long time. It is these memories that we can really hold on to and I was blessed to be able to share that moment with JD. Do you remember your first hunting knife? What memories do you have of it and your first deer season?
As I drove down an old farm road the other day I was immediately reminded that deer season is just around the corner. Velvet antlers caught my eye as a young buck stopped at the sight of the four wheeler. As the buck slipped into the thicket I sat there for a few minutes and soaked in the silence. It was then I decided to make a detour and head down to one of my favorite spots in the woods.
I entered the old oak hollow and followed a trail that lead to a spot that my Dad and I discovered some twenty years earlier. On top of a little knoll we found the perfect funnel area for deer to travel between the two adjacent crop fields. It didn't take long for Dad and I to nickname the spot "The Acorn Stand". I can still picture the first time I eased through those woods by myself when I was twelve years old. Not much has changed about the spot over the years except for that stand that Dad and I put up. It has started to look like a retired prize fighter over the past several years. Standing only a meager eight feet tall in its prime the stand seems to have shrunk and it now stands with a distinct sway to one side. I was hesitant about climbing it that day but as I reached the top it was as if I had just sat there for the first time all over again. Mother nature and time have put a beating on this stand but the stand still had that feel that made it my favorite spot from the first time I hunted it.
My detour that day to my favorite hunting spot was not only to reminisce but also in anticipation of the upcoming season. This season only a couple hundred yards away from where I made my first memories in the deer woods another young hunter will climb into a stand with the hopes of a successful hunt. The young hunter is my cousin JD. JD will be twelve this coming season and after taking him last year on a hunt I could tell that the passion that caught fire when I sat in "The Acorn Stand" twenty years ago was there for him as well.
I'm not exactly sure how the season will go but as I sat in my favorite spot that day I thought about how fun it was going to be to walk with JD on this journey of his first deer season. JD has been helping me get ready for the season and I know he's pumped. My goal is to help guide him through the ups and downs that a young hunter goes through and also to teach him as much as I can about the things I've learned over the years. Another goal is to try to capture as much of his season on video so one day JD can watch it unfold over and over again. So with all that being said wish JD luck and say a few prayers for the cameraman. I think this season will be a special one.