It's A Family Thing
Whenever we talk about the importance of a hunter's heritage or tradition, it often times automatically becomes associated with bringing up the future generations, and passing on our knowledge, heritage, traditions, etc. in hopes they will some day do the same for the generations that come after them. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this! It is a very important part of what we as hunters should be doing. But not often do we highlight the long term results. When father/son hunting traditions carry on well into adulthood. Today I would like to do just that.
This past week, I had the opportunity to accompany and run camera for my dad on a whitetail hunt in the Texas Hill Country. The past several seasons have not been the best for my dad and I, and we'd been planning this hunt since last summer, in hopes of getting my dad his first deer in 4 years.
My dad and I have shared a hunting camp for a very long time, ever since I was a little kid. He is the reason I am the hunter I am today. He took the initiative to get me in the woods, and gave me the foundation I needed to be a good hunter. However, some might say we lost a little time. After I killed my first deer, my dad let me start hunting by myself. Early on he made a point to be in another stand close by, but as time went on we split up farther and farther to cover more ground. It wasn't until this year, and this trip that we truly realized how long it has been. While we have shared our stories, our camp, our recoveries all together, the last time we were in a stand actually hunting together was during those early years when I first started hunting.
Like I mentioned before, this hunt was in the works for a long time. We arrived in Menard County around lunch time, and after getting settled in at camp, checking rifle sights, and putting together a game plan, we didn't hesitate to get in a stand early. And early was good, as we began seeing deer activity at 1:45 in the afternoon.
But the activity we saw for the first couple days was not what we were hoping for. Don't get me wrong, the deer were everywhere. Young deer. It could've been due to the warmer temperatures, or high winds, but we were almost 2 days into a 3 day trip and had not yet put our eyes on a buck or doe that was worthy of hitting the ground.
Our first surprise came during the last afternoon/evening hunt at around 2:30 pm, when an absolute stud of a buck walked out in front of us. He was a main-frame 8 point, with enough splits and kickers to make him at least a 12 point! At first glance, this is the buck we've been waiting on! But as the seconds flew by, it became clear this deer was a young buck. The long legs, the tucked belly, the flat back, and thin neck are what assured us this was a 3 1/2 year old deer.
This is where deer management comes into play. No doubt this is a good buck, and one that many hunters would not hesitate to shoot. But if you want big deer, you have to let younger deer walk. It sucked that this deer wasn't of mature age, but it was the right call to make for a long-term management minded hunter. He will be a heck of a stud in a year or two.
This buck was followed by another good 8 point later in the evening. Another great looking deer, and probably a little older than this one, but my dad was in search for a true older mature buck. That's what we were going to get, even if it was on the last day.
The final hunt took place the last morning, in the same location the previously mentioned bucks had been spotted. And as first light came, both the deer from the evening before were in front of us, accompanied by several does and younger bucks....and one other new face. A buck came in that we had not seen before. He was obviously built differently than these other deer. He carried himself differently, obviously the dominate buck of this area. He was a 10 point, not very wide in spread, but his tines were tall. This was the deer we were waiting on!
Once we knew this was the buck, my dad didn't hesitate to settle the cross-hairs. With the camera rolling he squeezed off a shot. The buck made the classic back leg kick and bolted into the brush. The next few minutes were filled with high-fives and celebration. After nearly 3 days of hard hunting, we finally got the job done!
This was a very special and memorable trip. Over the years my dad and I have built a lot of memories, and shared a lot of experiences. And this goes right up there with it all! But a special part of it stands alone. The part where I'm no longer a kid. The part where it is now 2 men, a father and son who started down this hunting journey together well over a decade ago, now both experienced hunters. Still creating new memories and sharing a lifelong passion. You may have a bigger deer hanging on your wall, but to some the antlers, the points or the score are irrelevant. Every mount tells a story. And stories will last for generations.
-Sam Thrash, Fall Obsession Administrative Staff
I would like to offer special thanks to Last Leaf Camo and Upwind Odor Eliminator. These are field tested and proven products that we take to the woods with us every single hunt! You can see the results...