This morning was one of a life time. My oldest son AJ and I went out on his first deer hunt, being the opening day of Kansas rifle season. He harvested a beautiful little 8 point buck just 6 minutes after sun up.
We were hunting on a brushy hillside that faces a long barb wire fence. While bow hunting I have seen deer travel along that fence line to an opening. Before first light we set up high on the hillside looking down at the fence line, but soon after daylight (which is approximately 30 minutes before the sun actually rises) I could tell AJ would have a very tough time shooting a deer from a kneeling position because there was too much long grass in the way. I decided to do what I never like to do- move just as it's getting light. The chances of a deer seeing you move are too great in most cases, but I knew there was little chance AJ would be able to kill anything from that spot,not being able to stand and shoot (the gun is a bit too heavy for him to shoot standing). We picked up and moved about 70 yards east and a bit closer to the fence line opening. We quick sat in front of a juniper bush and no more than 10 minutes later I saw antlers coming from the west right along the fenceline. I said, "there's a buck coming AJ.". I pulled the hammer back on his youth model Rossi .243 and handed him the gun, then flipped the safety off for him. He quickly came to shooting position, which for him is a low kneeling squat. He saw the deer moving slowly along the fence line 80 yards away and said a bit too loudly, "I see him!" The deer heard him and came to attention but couldn't see us as were dug in pretty good with the bush and long grass around us. The deer calmed down and proceeded as he was going. AJ was incredibly patient as we waited for the deer to get on the other side of a large bush before readying for the shot. I told AJ to be ready when the deer got on the other side of the bush. He followed directions well and positioned his firearm and was going to look through the scope when the deer seemed to come to alert again. We both froze. The deer calmed again and moved forward as AJ moved the gun up so his eye lined with the scope. The deer stopped at approximately 45 yards and just as I was going to tell AJ to take him- BOOM- AJ fired the gun, the deer mule kicked and ran straight through the fence opening obviously hit hard. We watched him run in to the woods until we lost sight of his white tail. I was pretty sure it was a lethal hit, but my rule is to wait 30 minutes before picking up the blood trail.
The next 30 minutes were awesome. We high-fived, AJ was just ecstatic, and so was I! It's hard to describe how it feels to see your son accomplish something like this. It really is quite a feat for a 9-year old to harvest a deer. I texted a few friends to tell them while we waited the 30 minutes, then we took up the blood trail. We followed the trail and found the deer about 100 yards from where he was shot.
Of all the great moments I have enjoyed hunting and harvesting deer, this experience with AJ surpasses them all.