On that first deerhunt together in Texas in 1982, where 8-year-old daughter Sasha killed her first whitetail, 6-year-old son Toby was quite let down that he missed his shot. Rather!
Over the years, I gently prodded my kids to join me deerhunting, but never pressured them that is was something I insisted on. Rather, I continually shared with them my joys and excitement from every day afield, and had them join me on many exciting, educational bloodtrails and recoveries.
These woodland jaunts taught them much about awareness, accountability, sportsmanship, ethics, compassion, honesty, the joke of political correctness, the miracle of nature, wildlife, habitat, resource stewardship, the vicious beauty of God’s tooth, fang and claw creation, and the gifts of life-sustaining venison as we balanced the herds and lands for a meaningful annual Thanksgiving celebration of God’s bounty each natural season of harvest.
But young Tobias was more interested in basketball, baseball, football and hockey, and I assisted and encouraged him the best I could in these worthy pursuits.
But remember, I hunt every day, all season long, and every night at the dinnertable they heard my always exciting, passionate stories of critter encounters, close calls, mesmerizing nature beauty and stimuli, and after a while, it was all just too contagious for Toby to ignore.
He would join me occasionally here and there, and he was certainly a master rifleman and archer, so it was just a matter of time before he got the bug.
And when he did, it was a very big bug!
A few days into the gun opener in Michigan in 1997 Toby asked if he and his buddy Brad could deerhunt with me one afternoon. Ya think!
I made them double-check their slug guns at the range, recommended a couple of good stands based on the wind and my nonstop scouting, reviewed the safety basics, and off we went.
Long story short, I was bowhunting a ways off to the northeast when shortly after getting settled in for a long evening vigil, I heard a volley of five shots that had to come from where I had sent Toby. I certainly perked up and smiled, hoping for the best but knowing that one shot usually means a dead deer, more than one not so much.
It wasn’t long after when I heard what had to be a shot from Brad’s location, and I again smiled and shook my head at good old beginner’s luck.
I stuck it out till dark, passing on a pretty nice young eight pointer myself, and I couldn’t wait to find out what all the shooting was about.
As I rounded the barn towards the house, Toby and Brad were standing by the barn light, arms folded across their chests with some pretty apparent glowing smiles on their faces.
Brad let out “I got a buck Mr. Nugent, and so did Toby!”
Well there ya have it. Beginner’s luck indeed. Brad pointed to his handsome little five pointer on the ground. I heartfeltly congratulated him and asked, “where’s Toby’s buck?”, and they said, “well, he’s right over here.”
They had obviously hid Toby’s deer so we had to poke around the barn corner to see it, and lo and behold, it was a buck of a lifetime.
My son’s first whitetail more than made up for the missed buck back in 1982, for on the ground in front of us was a monster of a mature Michigan monarch studbuck. Toby had pulled off miracle of miracles, and hammered an exceptional five to six year old swamprunner with a huge 160+ inch head of bone.
This magnificent 12-point buck was the buck of dreams, and much more important than the dimensions if its antlers, was the glee and fire with which my son exclaimed each and every detail of the hunt, the encounter, the shot, the followup, the recovery, the drag, the tag and the moment when dad saw it.
Needless to say, son Toby is a diehard trophy buck hunter now, and he has added a few more dandy bowkills and gunkills to his collection, showing that very admirable patience of a dedicated mature buck killer. He knows his stuff, and is as good a deerhunter as a deerhunter gets.
He also guides and outfits for our own Sunrize Safaris, and the unsolicited testimonials I get from every hunter in our camps, confirms what I already know to be true; that my son Theodore Tobias Nugent is a gentleman, hard-working, reliable, knowledgeable, attentive, professional, caring, conscientious deerhunting fool of the highest order, exactly what every deerhunter wishes his son to be.
My cup do runneth over more.