Blog reader Judy Black is always very generous with her tales, and she recently sent a great one about a "first timer" that fits in with our feel-good holiday programming. Judy started out by saying that her sons, now 27 and 29, grew up watching her and her husband Scott hunt. While her youngest didn't take to the sport, her oldest, Brian, "has the raging fire like his mother for hunting." Brian harvested a spike horn in 1996 and a small 7 two years later. It was then that he decided he would plant food plots and let the small ones go -- a decision for which Judy says she admired her son. After going on to practice deer management, Brian killed an "awesome" 10 point opening morning 2006, and another 10 point opening day of the following year. He still practices QDMA on his family's 150 acres.
I'll let Judy continue the story about the next generation of her family's hunters from there. -K.H.
In 2001 Scott and I purchased almost 200 acres that was once part of his grandparents' farm. Situated on the land was a 1973 mobile home, and the ink wasn't even dry on the paperwork, when we started calling it camp. Scott's brother Jim owns 300 acres adjacent to our property. It has some of the best hunting and farm land in the area and Jim is an avid hunter as well. By fall the food plots were planted and the blinds in place.
Jim has a son Jason, now 21, and he too loves to hunt. He spends countless hours walking or driving their property taking note of the bucks and by October I swear he has them named. If you tell him you saw an 8 point buck, you best know if it had a broken G2 or real white horns. It is not very often that a buck shows up that Jason hasn't already seen.
Jason's youngest sister Sadie has sat with her dad and Jason many times for many years. She has never hunted and is now 16 and has the normal interests of a 16 year old young lady. But this year Jason "begged" her to get up opening morning to hunt in his stand with him. She went and they didn't see anything that morning. Sadie went again for the afternoon hunt and this is where the real story starts.
Around 4:30 Jason told her there was a buck coming out. He didn't know how big it was, just that it was a buck and he had promised her that he would let her shoot "something." Sadie would later tell me that he was "bouncing off the walls" telling her to take the gun and shoot. She was totally unprepared and took a little longer than Jason was comfortable with getting ready to shoot. He was "having a fit" as the buck walked off into the woods....Sadie was like, "what the heck"!!!
The buck turned and came back out to the edge of the field and now Sadie was ready. She took aim and fired the shot. Both of them watched as the buck disappeared into the woods. Both Jason and Sadie knew it was a good hit so they started burning up the cell phone lines. A call to mom brought a "yeah right" and then to Uncle Scott who couldn't understand what she was saying.
Back at camp I was patiently waiting for them to bring her trophy as Scott told me Sadie had shot a 10. I was so dang excited for her and could not wait to see it. They backed the pickup up to the porch of camp where the light was good and we could all see. I was barely out the door when the passenger door flew open and I was greeted by the biggest smile you can imagine. I hugged Sadie and told her over and over how very proud I was of her. She chatted a mile a minute recounting the story of Jason "bouncing off the walls" and then her shot. She just kept pointing from herself to the buck saying "I did this....I got a 10 point buck!" Once again I told her how proud I was and Sadie's reply was "I just kept thinking, who, who, who will be proud and I said..Judy will. She will be so proud of me because she hunts and knows."
I was about in tears as it made me realize that all those years of watching all of us hunt and celebrate the harvest, this young lady got it. It isn't just the hunt, it is the camaraderie, the thrill, the sharing of the stories. It is about family and friends doing what they love to do and then taking it all back to "camp" and sharing. Sadie now had her own story to share and she will have that memory for the rest of her life.
My sister has always told me that "I never look happier than when I have a dead animal in the picture with me." Well, it is not only my harvests that make me smile. We took pictures of Sadie that night and I asked that one be taken with her and I. She brought the pictures over to me the following night and I have to say there was no wiping that smile off her face the night she killed that buck, she was one proud, happy young lady. But the picture of Sadie and I together shows that I was just as happy and proud as she was.
If I don't harvest this season it will be just fine with me. It meant more to me to have Sadie get her first deer than if I shot a 12 point myself. I remember my first fish and I remember my first deer. I too remember my kids first deer. Now I can say that I remember Sadie's first buck, an awesome 10 point. What a treasured memory. -J.B.