This was the year I had been waiting for all my life. I’ve been going hunting with my dad since I was 8 years old. I’m 12 years old now, and a fourth-generation hunter. It was six weeks into the Hancock County, KY, hunting season. I had been bowhunting whitetail with my dad all fall, and though I came close several times, I had been unable to get the shot I wanted.
One day Dad and I decided to give gun hunting a try because the bucks were rutting. The morning was slow, and I found myself dozing off. We had been in the woods well before daylight and hadn’t seen any game yet. After deciding I couldn’t sit there any longer, I started to pack up my gear when my dad quickly silenced me. My eyes followed the barrel of his 270. POW! a small doe dropped to the ground. POW! a large buck leapt into the woods and didn’t go much farther.
“Congratulations Dad,” I whispered with my ears still ringing. “Thanks,” Dad replied, “now it’s your turn.” I loaded my .223 and waited and waited and waited — then a doe stumbled out of some brush. My heart started pounding so rapidly against my chest I thought I might explode. I put the crosshairs on the doe’s heart and POW! she dropped to the ground. Before I could think about anything, a buck came sniffing through. POW! the buck almost back-flipped into the woods.
After I could talk again, I asked my dad if I had missed. Dad said he saw hair fly and knew I had made a lethal shot. After hearing that, I was up on my feet and racing to the spot where the buck and doe had been. When I bent over and looked at a big area of blood and hair, I realized that I was shaking and my stomach was in a knot. Dad looked at the blood and explained how to track an animal. This track was easy; I shot the buck through both lungs, so the blood trail was obvious. After about 30 minutes, we found him lying in a bunch of saplings. Just then I realized this was the year I had been waiting for — I shot my first buck!
After finding the other deer and moving the buck to a better position, Dad showed me how to field-dress the deer. When we were finished we begin the hardest part of the hunt — the long drag to the pickup. Dad dragged the deer while I carried the backpack and the two guns. We were tired but still excited. We loaded both deer into the back of the truck and headed home. While we were sitting in the truck, I thought about my grandfather on pins and needles, waiting to see if my dad and I were successful. He has been hunting since he was 12 years old and is still an avid hunter. I couldn’t wait to tell him about the buck, as I knew he would be so proud.
Prior to this hunt, I had thought about getting my first buck many times, but never thought about the remarkable feeling it would give me, nor the connection I would feel with the animals I hunt.