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My Sons First Hunt

By Greg Burns

“Dad, I want to go hunting with you this year.” My heart was overjoyed to hear those words, but it was the middle of the summer. The only thing we could do at that point was start practicing! I pulled out my Barnett Crossbow and the fun began. My crossbow was a little heavy for Nick so I placed it on a homemade tripod I constructed from PVC pipe to help steady it. After a few pointers he was ready for his first shot.  He took aim as I talked him through. “Take a breath, hold it for a second, squeeze the trigger, and exhale.” BAM! He hit the target 2 inches above the spot he was aiming for on his first shot. All I could think was that my boy was a natural! Nick took several more shots that day and continued to practice for the next 3 months.

Towards the end of August we started hanging the new Wild Game Innovations Trail Cameras. Nick and I went to our hunting lease, better known as "Maw Maw and Paw Paw's" house, for a weekend to hang the cameras in places with known deer activity. The plan for the upcoming season was to get a nice doe early and a couple of big bucks. We hung Wild Game Innovations Acorn Rage Drop-N-Block and Acorn Rage Powder near the cameras with the hopes of getting a few good pictures.

By the time September had arrived I noticed Nick starting to look at the hunting gear that lined the shelves at our local Wal-Mart. Any time we went to the store we always stopped by Sporting Goods at his request. He wanted to look at all the game calls, the attractants, and, of course, the camo! His eyes sparkled and I could feel his excitement that he was actually going hunting. He held on to his permit with such pride.Opening season had finally come and we were both so excited we could hardly sleep! We woke up at 4:00 a.m. and each took a shower using Scent-Away. We got dressed, Nick reminded me to grab the Midland Action Camera to mount on the crossbow scope, and headed out. Once we got to our parking spot we sprayed down with Scent-Away No Scent and Nick and I headed to the Armistead Blind, being as quiet as possible. As we got situated in the blind we took out our Thermacell Mosquito Repellent and settled in to wait for the sun to come up over the trees.

A couple of hours passed and Nick was starting to get a little antsy. Suddenly we heard steps and saw something walking in the distance behind some bushes. He quietly picked up the crossbow and placed it on the tripod, finger on the trigger. This was the moment Nick had been waiting for! As he steadied his breathing and took aim, we realized his first deer was really…a cow! Nick was disappointed and I was scared he would be ready to quit, but his heart was racing. He now had his first taste of what buck fever feels like! We didn't see anything for the rest of the morning, except more cows, but I told Nick we would try another stand the next morning.

Sunday morning came and Nick was just as excited as he was the previous day. He woke me up dressed and ready to go. I showered, got dressed, and we hit it again. This particular morning we went to a two-man tree stand that was about 10 feet off the ground on a high line opening. On our way to the stand we bumped two doe and they ran off in the opposite direction of the stand, which was good for us. Once we were in the stand the wait began. We weren’t even there a full hour and saw a small 8 pt buck about 15 yards across from us in the woods coming straight at us. He reached the tree line and stopped when he heard a truck coming down the road. When the truck passed the buck ran back into the woods and we thought he was gone for good. However, about five minutes later he came charging out of the woods 10 yards in front of the stand, but Nick didn’t have time to get his shot.

“Daddy what do we do now? The deer ran away!” “Well son,” I said, “We wait. There will be more deer coming out.”
After another long time period, I saw a big 8 pt buck coming our way. My heart started to race and my breathing got heavy. All I could think was that this could be it for my boy! The buck came right to the edge of the tree line, right behind a bush, and just stood there as if to say, “I can’t see you, but I know you’re there.” Nick raised his crossbow very slowly and got ready. The buck stuck his nose in the air to sniff, turned slowly, and walked right back the way he had come. No shot again.

Ten minutes passes and Nick whispers, “Dad, I see one!” He slowly pointed to the left and, sure enough, there he was. Hercules! Hercules was a big-bodied buck with long main beams and tall G2s. I had been watching him on my game cameras for years, but could never get him because he only came out a night. Nick put his crossbow up to the tripod, looked through the scope, and said, “I have him in sight dad.” I told him to wait until he came closer and in a clearing for the shot. I got close to his ear once again and said, “Slow your breathing down and relax.” Hercules was coming straight for us, right down the trail the little buck had taken. He stopped, lifted his head to sniff the air, turned, and walked right out of our lives with a slow side-to-side sway. He was gone. Again fearing the worst, I turned to Nick and said, “Sorry son.” Nick looked at me and, with eyes shining, said, “Sorry for what? That…was…AWESOME!” My boy was hooked! “Dad I see why you love to go hunting! What a feeling!”

We went back to the house for breakfast and all Nick could talk about was how great his first hunting weekend was. My father said, “But you didn’t shoot anything, Nick!" "But Grandpa,” Nick said, “I saw 5 deer today! I even saw Hercules for real, not on camera! That was so awesome!" I have to say that was probably the best hunting experience of my life, as well. An experience that I will be blessed to relive every year with my son.