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Family Traditions

By Greg Burns

It all started in August with a trip to our local Wal-Mart.  It was time to purchase hunting licenses for the upcoming season. This year’s hunting season would be different for our family. My 12 year old son, Nicholas, has grown up hunting. He looks forward to those cold mornings in the woods yearly. However, this year, my family expanded with a wife and four more boys! Nick and I would thereby be making an addition to our hunting pack and my 15 year old son, Kiave’, would be joining us. While Kiave’ is very athletic and spends plenty of time outside, he hasn’t had much experience with the great outdoors! I can say that he was really excited to get his license and try his luck at hunting. I think he smiled all the way home!

Before we knew it, it was time to start putting out the Wild Game Innovations game cameras. I decided that we would make our own 55 gallon gravity feeder this year that would sit about 30 yards from our Ameristed 2-man ladder stand. Nick and I went to my parents one weekend in September to start getting things ready. We made the gravity feeder and filled it with corn. My dad and I put the feeder out and made a trail to the feeder hoping that it would encourage the deer to visit the area frequently. When we got back home that weekend I decided to make sure the bows and rifles were sighted in and ready to go. I took Kiave’ out in the yard and showed him how to shoot my Barnett Quad 4 Crossbow.  For someone who has never shot a crossbow he turned out to be quite the natural. After a couple of practice shots and a couple of adjustments on the scope, Kiave’ hit dead center on our Buck Commander target! Talk about a proud daddy! I knew Team CBW (Cedar Branch Whitetails) was ready to go.

W
hen October rolled around it was time for me to hit the woods for Texas bow season. We have 2 main stands that are parallel to each other, divided by a main road. Fortunately, the deer constantly run from one field to the other so you simply have to be in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, this year the whole month of October went by and I saw nothing! With November quickly approaching I was getting extremely antsy and my trigger finger was getting itchy. 

Youth weekend came and the boys couldn’t wait to get in a stand! We left for my parent’s house Friday evening so that we could be up before the sun. 5 a.m. came early…it being 38 degrees didn’t help either. Nick and I made our way to the ladder stand and got situated. I made sure Nick could easily shoot the crossbow and then we sat and waited. A couple of hours went by and we saw nothing. A couple more hours went by and still nothing. At this point Nick is playing Angry Birds on my phone and trying to stay awake while I watch for deer. Around 9:45 a.m. I hear, “Dad I’m hungry, let’s go eat. I’ll get him next time.” He had decided he was done for the day! My boy was satisfied and that was good enough for me.

Sunday morning came just as fast as Saturday had. I was exhausted, but duty called. Today was Kiave’s turn at catching the “big one”. We went to the stand parallel to the ladder stand and sat on the ground under a homemade tree stand. He was feeling brave and wanted to use the 30-06 riffle instead of the crossbow. We settled in and the wait began. The weather was calm; the temperature was a cool 41 degrees with a South wind. I showed him where the deer usually come from and what to watch for. After about 45 minutes patiently waiting- which if you know Kiave’ is a miracle in itself- he says, “I see one to my right!” You could hear his heart pounding through all his layers of clothing and he was breathing heavily. He quietly took aim. I took a look at the deer and had to tell him to wait. I wasn’t able to tell clearly if the deer was a spike with little points or a doe. He calmly lowered the rifle and our wait began again. “I see why you love hunting deer so much!” he said. “The rush is CRAZY!” As we sat he spotted an 8 point come from a grove a trees and I could hear his breathing pick up again. Unfortunately, the small buck wasn’t legal to shoot. In Texas a buck must have a 13 inch spread or the horns must go past the ears at alert. As Kiave’ watched him walk down the fence row and into another grove of trees, I grunted and hit the Black Rack rattle horns to see if I could bring him to us. Amazingly a different little buck came out of the trees about 15 yards to our left and looked dead at us. I whispered to Kiave’ not to move at all. The little buck continued to walk directly in front of us, so close we could have hit him with a rock, and eventually out of our line of sight. Kiave’ was so excited he couldn’t stand it! He was hooked, just like Nick had been the year before! Team Cedar Branch Whitetails had just officially inducted its newest member.

This year’s hunting season started out as an amazing experience for me. Not everybody understands the bonds that are created between a parent and a child sitting out in the woods in the cold for hours at a time! I am a family man above all else. Being able to share the experiences I had as a father with my own sons is priceless. The family tradition lives on.