I have been anxiously awaiting the opening of the Kansas 2012 deer season from the moment the 2011 closed last winter, but no season with greater excitement than the Kansas Youth season which opened in Mid-September. This year my son, and outdoors buddy, was going to participate in his first deer hunt. We’ve been practicing all summer long in preparation. We worked on shooting form, both with his new .243 youth rifle, our .22 rifle (with less recoil), and quite extensively with my new Benjamin Train NP XL .22 caliber air rifle. These efforts gave him a lot of experience shooting a scoped rifle and he was really starting to shoot some nice little groups using a seat and a shooting rest, just like we would be using in the blind. I was out of town with work the opening weekend, so our hunt was going to be limited to last Friday night and Saturday morning. Our good friend Mr. Steve invited us down to his cabin for a place to stay and hunt. Steve had a nice ground blind set up over a small field bordered by heavy timber where the deer had been feeding. I think it is important to set youngsters up for success as much as possible when introducing them to outdoor activities, like taking them fishing at the local pond where you know they are going to catch some fish instead of a hit-or-miss trip to the big lake. So with plans and preparations made, it was just up to us and the deer.
We hit the road Friday after school and on the way down Kale said, “Dad, even if we don’t get a deer, I will be happy if we just see some activity.” Me too, I thought, me too… of course secretly hoping for more!
It was about 5:30 when we settled into the blind and about 6:15 when Steve’s scouting paid off and a nice little 4 or 6 point buck wandered into the field. Kale was almost bouncing in his seat, but knew he had to wait until the deer turned broadside and was standing still before attempting a shot. I had my fingers crossed, but apparently “Buck Fever” is not restricted to the size of the deer or the size of the hunter, because the report of the .243 only resulted in a hastily exiting deer. The poor kid was so emotional about missing and I tried to reassure him that there would be more opportunities. We waited the evening out not sure what affect the noise from the shot would have on later activity. Fortunately for us, the disturbance did not keep another six does from coming to feed right before dark. They entered from the far side of the field and I told Kale he had to wait until they came over to our side where they would be in range. That was an exciting 20 minutes watching those deer slowly move in, but ultimately it was just too long as darkness won out and by the time they were close enough, it was too dark to see through the scope and get off a clean shot. Besides, we had tomorrow morning….
Steve picked us up in his ATV after dark and already had burgers on the grill for us when we got back to the cabin. Talk about a first class hunt!!!
5:30 in the morning comes quickly for a youngster, but anticipation of seeing more deer pushed away the yawns and we headed back out into the light drizzle that just started to come down. The ground blind kept us plenty dry and comfortable, and I have to assume that the deer were enjoying their own dry beds because we did not see anything moving all morning. Such is the nature of most of my hunts, rain or not, but we didn’t push it too hard and came in about 9:00 for some breakfast.
Although we didn’t bag a deer this trip, I think we laid the groundwork to build upon for future outings. Most importantly we had fun and got to spend some great time together. I can’t thank you enough Steve for setting this trip up for us.