Brad’s Report

Opening-Day Buck

This year, gun season held a lot more excitement than normal because it was my 12-year-old
daughter Cassie’s first year of gun-hunting. We had gone out during the early youth
season and actually had a couple of really nice bucks in range, but things just didn’t
work out.

Before I relay the story, I have to give you some information. I’ve taken all three
of my children hunting for the past several years, and we always sit in the same heated
box blind. I’ve taken some does with them but never a buck; not because we don’t see
any, but more because I’ve always passed on them and waited for something really special.

This year, the children’s excitement was at an all-time high because they knew they
would see a buck get shot if the opportunity arose. I knew they were excited when
they sprang out of bed at 4:30 a.m., and by 5:10 a.m., we were sitting in the tower
blind. The children were playing their Game Boys waiting for it to get light.

When they heard the first shot, they started scanning for deer. It wasn’t long before
my 7-year-old son, Noah, said he saw a buck coming out. Sure enough, out walked a
10-pointer about 40 yards from the blind. We all needed to shift positions, and in
the time it took for Cassie to get ready for a shot, the deer had walked out and was
quartering away at a sharp angle. All she could see in the scope was the deer’s rump,
so I told her to wait for a broadside shot. Something spooked the buck, and he turned
and ran back toward the woods. I grunted twice and actually tried to whistle him to
a stop, but to no avail. He kept running.

After the deer was out of sight, you could see the disappointment on the faces of
my children especially Cassie’s. I told her there would be another deer, and that
I thought I had seen a pretty good buck coming our way from the east. Just like clockwork,
there he was. He was headed on a beeline directly to the stand.

I grabbed the DDH TV camera and start rolling film of the buck. I expected him to
hit the food plot and turn right, and that Cassie would be able to shoot him right
after he turned. However, the deer had other plans. He came in and turned left, which
meant Cassie would need to shoot him out of the other window. I told her to switch
positions, and I opened the window with my left hand. She positioned for the shot
while I tried to find the deer in the viewfinder with one hand. I just got on the
deer and started to focus when she shot, and I taped the deer running away.

The buck ran about 40 yards and stopped. I handed the camera to Noah and then reloaded
the single-shot rifle for a second shot. By the time the gun was loaded, the deer
had vanished. I thought he had probably gone down right there, so I told Cassie, “I
think you got him.”

You can imagine the joy, but just a couple of minutes later, I saw a buck about the
same size walk from our direction onto an oak ridge 400 yards away. My heart sank
because I thought it was the same deer. I checked him out in the spotting scope and
couldn’t see a mark on him. The only thing to do was get down and look for blood.
Cassie wanted to because it was her deer, so I let her go down. She walked down the
lane and didn’t see anything, so I handed the camera to my 9-year-old daughter, Jordan,
and told her to keep it on Cassie. Then, I went down to help.

I was just putting my heavy coat on when Jordan yelled, “Cassie found him.” I looked
out the window and saw her jumping up and down. We all piled out of the blind to look
at the buck.

As soon as she saw us walking out of the blind, Cassie ran to me and gave me a big
hug. That feeling was by far the best I’ve ever had in the deer woods. It was a great
deer, and Cassie had made a perfect shot.

Later that day, Cassie also got a mature doe with another well-placed shot. It was
a perfect ending to the first day of the season. She even said she might want to bow-hunting.

Only time will tell. I’m just glad to have another hunter in the family.