The weekend after Thanksgiving I packed up my daughter to take
her on her first hunt ever (she's 6 years old). We went up to a piece of
property near San Angelo TX to hunt whitetail, and instead of looking for
trophies, we were looking to cull out the undesirables. Unlike my previous
hunts for Mule deer, this on would also be in blinds because Alysa is a bit
young for several miles a day on the mountain.
The first morning at first light we had several deer (mostly bucks) at the feeder 100 yards away. A few would have been shooters had this not been a cull hunt, and no amount of explaining seemed to keep Alysa from prodding me to drop one of them. I tried explaining that her Grandfather wanted us to take a spike, and I told her what we were looking for and gave her some binoculars to use. She responded by intently looking at each and every buck and proclaiming it a "spike" --- even a nice 10 pointer that was probably 21-23" wide. The bottom line was that she wanted one shot and she wasn't going to be satisfied until that happened. I never found a spike to shoot at that morning, but I knew from game camera footage that we had at least a couple in the area so I was hopeful that I'd be able to locate one. My daughter wasn't happy about climbing down from that stand without us taking a shot, but I was pretty jazzed just seeing how enthusiastic she was about me putting one on the ground.
We walked back to the cabin, grabbed some lunch, and then went for a hike to scope out a new area. Along the way we saw a black buck and some wild turkey, but no whitetail. Then again, it's tough for a 6 year old to travel quietly enough to get close to a whitetail so I wasn't at all surprised. During the walk we found a nice ground stand about 50 yards off of a feeder, so I decided to go there for the afternoon hunt. We got into the stand around 4:30 that afternoon, and just before 5pm two deer came up from the nearby river. I could see the excitement in Alysa's eyes when I confirmed what she had already seen with her binos --- that the back deer was a spike buck. (I guess all my explaining as to what we were looking for HAD registered) I slowly moved the rifle into a rested position for a shot and stayed there for about 10 minutes while I waited for a clear shot. I knew that one would come, and that the quickest way for me to kill any inetrest Alysa had in hunting would be with a poor shot, so I sat and waited. Through it all, Alysa couldn't stop whispering questions to me. She couldn't sit still for all the excitement, and nervously shuffled from left to right as she watched the spike and my rifle. Finally, the spike took a step away from some brush and I let him have it. He collapsed and never even twitched.
I looked over at Alysa and saw that her eyes were wide open and that for the first time ever she was absolutely motionless. It occurred to me at this time that she had never even seen a weapon fired before, and though she was wearing hearing protection and the muzzle had been outside of the blind, it was still quite an experience. We ran out to check on the spike, but I already knew he was done.
As the photo will attest, a 150gr Sierra Game King traveling at 2700 fps can really do some damage. I had placed the shot behind the right shoulder with an exit just in front of the left, and that's what I got. What I didn't plan on, however, was just how much tissue damage that round would cause on the far side, and I ultimately had to throw out the whole left shoulder. All in all the deer wasn't too impressive, but once we get the population and nutrition right on that property we should have some really spectacular deer to harvest in the future. When that happens, I'll reclaim my rifle's pride with a nice trophy.