Angus is my #3 son. He had his first Yute season this weekend.
Here's what I wrote before I left:
Getting a Yute Ready For Yute Season
[ul][*]Name: Angus[*]Age: 10[*]Season: Kentucky Youth-Only Firearms Season, 2008 AKA Yute Season
[*]Rifle: Marlin 336 in 30-30 WIN w. Simmons 3-9X30 scope on Weaver SwivelMounts-- See Ode to a 30-30
for the lowdown on the rifle
[*]Load: Custom loaded Winchester PP 150 GR RN over Hodgdon H4895[*]Camo: HMB-Xtra (HandmeDown Mixed Bag)[*]Treestand: Hunters View 15' Buddy Stand, first erected 2004.
[*]Weather: Unseasonably warm L61-H85F Winds East gusting to 15[/ul]We started our afternoon hunt around 3:30 PM at Garbage Pit. It sounds like an ugly place, but it really looks like a park. It's a grove of oak laid out over a half acre at the head of two hollows flanking a finger ridge. The garbage is from the previous owner, all stuffed into a sinkhole. Deer come up the hollows and stay to munch on acorns before moving out into the pastures beyond. There is a halo of cedars around most of the grove that blocks the last light of day.
Hurricane Ike had spared the farm, despite throwing 70 MPH winds at us. A few trees blew down and a few sheds were rattled. I had worried about all the acorns being blown down, but there seemed to be plenty left. The only real damage from Ike was the treestand skirts, which are now riddled with holes.
It was hot and windy, so the best chance for seeing a deer would be at or after sunset. After three and a half hours of waiting, the woods grew still in the gathering darkness. Angus was wondering when we would leave, and even I had to admit that my buttpad was beginning to feel like a rock. Then off to our Two-O'Clock I heard a contact bleat. I pointed a finger in that direction for Angus, and we got ready.
The advance doe came up the right hand hollow as two others stayed back about thirty yards and hung up in the cedars. I was on that side, so Angus had to lay his barrel across me to line up the shot. Luckily the lead doe hung up behind a large oak tree, and gave us a chance to do all our manuevering. When she came out again, Angus was ready, but could not pick her up in the scope. Even at 10 minutes after sunset, light was becoming a factor.
"I can't see her." he hissed. The doe's head shot up.
"Take the shot when you can." I whispered back. "Easy. Just be quiet."
You could see the woods getting darker now. The cedars behind the oak grove on that side make the grove grow prematurely gloomy. Eventually the does head lowered and she took a few more steps into a patch of leaves that were much lighter than the surroundings. It was enough of a contrast for Angus to pick out a target.
One thing I like about Hodgdon H4895 is its moderate recoil. Another is that it is fairly immune to temperature fluctuations. It also give consistent results when shot at less-than-maximum loads. All this makes it an ideal powder for youth loads. However, I want to bring your attention to another feature of this powder that I have noticed over the years that made this powder an ideal choice for our conditions: low muzzle flash. I use H4895 in all my 30 and 35 caliber deer loads. In some powders, muzzle flash through a scope in low light can be absolutely blinding, making a follow-up shot almost impossible. As the adult in a father-son team, I can tell you that muzzle flash can also play heck with any attempt to do due-dilligence in following what happens to the deer after the yute shoots. In this case, however, I was able to see the hit-- about dead center in the kill zone. I was also able to pick up the doe's reaction. She shuddered, went to her knees and then picked up and ran off directly away. A moment later, two other doe broke from cover and ran across our front.
I had Angus unload immediately, gave him back a couple of rounds and sent the rifle down on the rope. Angus went down while I hastily sent the rest of the gear down. We were losing light in a hurry, and I was hoping that we could find out what had happened before losing all light. Where the doe had run was going to go inky black in just a few minutes. Angus loaded back up and off we went into the cedars.
It did not take long for me to spot the doe. She had gone all of twenty yards before collapsing in some cedar debris blown down in Ike.
"Son," I said. "You've done it."
"She's over there." I said.
"Where?" I gave him an azimuth with my flashlight and let him go and find it. He was too excited to do a good job of checking to see if it was dead, so I showed him how. I gave my son a big hug and left him to spend some time with his deer. There was now more moonlight than anything else. I dowsed my light and walked back to the stand and collected the gear.
The doe could not have cooperated more, running towards an opening in a cedars that led to the pasture beyond. When KYHillChick brought the truck up, we had to lug the carcass less than twenty yards to the tailgate. I opted to just chuck her in the back and drive back up to the house and gut her under the lights on the meat pole. Angus helped out. In spite of all this, we still were not done before 9, and it was too late to get her to a processor. I rigged a block and tackle and hoisted her into an empty chest freezer, since even well after dark the temperatures were still over 80 degrees. I then helped my son through the phone maze of the Kentucky Telecheck system.
In the morning, I unplugged the freezer at 6 AM, and finally got enough of a thaw that I could get the doe unstuck from the bottom of the freezer. From there, we hoisted her back out and into the back of the truck. It was now Sunday morning, and Bracken County, Kentucky pretty well shuts down on the Sabbath. Finding a processor to take a deer on Sunday is a problem to begin with and Yute Season does not produce a lot of deer-- not a great enticement to open up. You get a lot of answering machines. So we loaded the half-frozen carcass in the back and headed off. I was expecting a long trek, but my first stop hit paydirt. Mike Jett at Salem Ridge Processors was open and more than happy to take my son's deer.
Angus will go back to school this morning, the first kid in his class to ever bag a deer. He's a mile high right now. He's called his grandparents and his brothers and told the neighbors and recounted the whole thing many times over in text messaging and his online forums. Most of all he's walking taller this morning. He picked a new set of jeans and a clean shirt and made a point of combing his hair. The bathroom was picked up when I went in. Last night, when we got home from the farm, his first choice was to go pick up his math text and get to work on homework, which he finished perfectly and in record time. Something has changed in him.
Mooseboy, #2 son, summed it up for me a few years ago. "What turned me around, " he said. "Was watching you take that first buck. All of a sudden I told myself , 'That's it. That's all there is.' I knew I had to make the best of my life, because it can be over just like that."
BTW: Here's Angus back in 2002, watching a doe being loaded on the back of the truck. Six years goes by really fast.