It’s been seven years since I sat down and started plucking away at this computer about my daughter’s first deer hunt.
By Robby Corsaro
As I prepare for my upcoming deer hunt, I love to get the juices flowing by reading many articles about deer, hunting, camaraderie, and time spent with friends or family in deer camps. The one thing that looms deep in many parents’ hearts is the chance to enter the deer woods with their children.
But what about that day when your son or daughter wants to venture off on their own to hunt without you? Or they have things going on that don’t allow them to hunt with you that year or two? Now what? If you have ever had the fortune to have your child alongside you, then you know where this going.
Being from California, hunting deer is not the norm, let alone for a young girl. But since my family was from upstate New York things were a bit different. I introduced shooting and hunting to my daughter, Courtney Lynn, at a young age. She was like me and Gramps, and really took to it. As she approached her teenage years she wanted to venture into the woods and try her own luck at hunting the wary deer we all lose sleep over.
After a few year of hunting together these beautiful woods and fields that are blessed upon us, she wanted to venture out without pops sitting next to her in a ground blind or on cold mother earth, making sure she was warm and had a good shooting lane. So I agreed.
Off we went as two buddies parting ways for the first evening hunt, except I was offering some guidance to help my buddy get to her stand, just in case she didn’t quite understand where it was. But my buddy was fine; no help required. I believe the term used was, “I’m good.” Deer were seen that warm November night, but shots were never presented.
Nonetheless, the stories that prevailed were very intriguing as I think they always are to hunters gathering around the camp fire or riding back to the lodge. But this time they were coming from my 21-year old daughter on her own in the woods for the first time, and not the white-haired old timer who still wears his black-and-red plaid wool jacket.
As the hunt went on the deer sightings grew few and far between, very rare in this area, and warm weather seemed to halt the deer movement. We were on a semi-guided hunt in Port Hope, Mich., with Ray Hoody of Hotshot Outfitters, one the most genuine men I have ever met, and probably one the hardest working. On a semi-guided hunt Ray will drive around in his truck, sit in stands, talk to his guys, whatever he can do to put you in position to kill what that person wants.
As we know, that “want” changes from hunter to hunter. Hoody and I have become friends over the years and he knows how close my daughter and I are, and having children of his own understands that feeling of having them in the woods with you. He really wanted her to have a successful hunt, and asked if he could take her out. He had been seeing a few deer in the very early morning working the field on their way back to bed for the day. Well, Courtney Lynn traveled 2,000 miles, loves venison and hunting, so she wanted to go.
However, where he had seen the deer there was no ground blind. She would be forced to sit in the elements, and it was windy and rainy that day. She wears glasses, too. So I objected, along with the fact I wasn’t going to be within walking distance from her. Bad idea I said.
I might as well have been talking to the wall.
I explained the situation again and this time made it sound about as bad as you could. She just looked at Hoody and said, “I’m fine, let’s go.”
I anxiously sat in my box blind listening to the rain beat down on the brush and leaves occasionally getting a blast of water from the wind gusts. All I thought was what a day to be out in the elements, and most likely a wasted one, too. About 7:30 a.m. my phone went off; Ray was calling and I figured, yep, they’re done because of the bad weather and no deer.
I answered the phone and it was Ray. But he let me know they were heading in to have breakfast, since Courtney shot her buck already. I thought he was pulling my leg so I made him put Courtney on, but she couldn’t get me off the phone fast enough. They had some does coming into the field and she needed to get back to hunting.
Well needless to say that girl shot her first deer without pops anywhere within earshot of that thunderous roar of her 12 gauge shotgun. She shot another one on a deer drive, once again on her own.
So, as parents I understand that we wrestle and scrutinize as to when we should let them go, and I would never say every child is the same. But if we have done what were supposed to do to keep this sport alive and thriving, as parents of future hunters, don’t waste the rubber on soles of your boots pacing back and forth trying to figure that out.
When it’s time to let them go, they’ll let you know.
Robby Corsaro is a California-based scout for the Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball.
By Robby Corsaro