I’ve been hunting since I was 9 years old, but, like most children, I didn’t shoot my first deer until I was a bit older. My grandfather took me to the ranch often and allowed me to tag along with the older guys and shoot a few hogs, javelinas, and rabbits. I never knew the difference until the moment I took my first deer. It was a young spike, but it’s still a trophy to me.
I’m 33 years old and have a wonderful family: my wife, Ann, and two beautiful little girls, Madeline, 9, and Viola, 4. I always thought I’d take my “son” hunting and pass on the tradition as my grandfather did for me. However, the good Lord had other plans.
I got onto a new hunting lease in northeast Maverick County this past season. It was my first venture this far west, but I had heard great things about the area and had high hopes for success. Unfortunately for me, one of the lease rules states we cannot have any female guests during the whitetail season. This presented a predicament for me, as I’m surrounded by women. Anyway, I decided to join the lease after a few discussions about perhaps being able to take my daughter a few times, with everyone’s approval. (It seems that older gentlemen have a soft spot for sweet little girls.)
Madeline was able to take her first deer, a mature doe, the first evening of the youth season. It was awesome! She took aim, squeezed the trigger, and the .243 found it’s mark. I’m not sure who was more excited, she or me. I couldn’t have been more proud of my little “Maddie.” At least that’s what I thought.
It wasn’t long after that the guys on the lease informed me that we needed to take a few more bucks off the ranch this year. They wanted me to bring Maddie back and let her take a buck this time, any buck of her choice! I informed her of the news and she was very excited. We made plans to go together again during the 2008 Christmas break from school.
From that point on, time seemed to stand still. “Is it time to go yet?” she asked me 100 times. “Almost,” I’d say. Finally the day came and we got in the truck around noon on Sunday, after church. We would have the entire 3,000-acre ranch to ourselves. I had no idea what I was in for.
We had arrived at the gate, then unloaded our things, and rushed out to the pasture for a short evening hunt. We decide to hunt Bush’s blind that evening, because he said he had several nice bucks in his area. As we approached the stand, we let the corn feeder fly and before we could even make it into the blind, deer were everywhere.
Among the first to show was an eight-pointer that would’ve fit the bill well. However, before we could even get the gun out the window, there stood a better one—the best deer I’d seen all year long. As the wide 10-pointer made his way down the road, checking does and challenging bucks, I jokingly told Maddie, “Baby, he’s too big for you to shoot. I’m afraid I’m gonna have to shoot him and you can shoot another one tomorrow.”
“No, Dad, he’s mine!” she quickly and loudly replied. After that, we were lucky there were any deer left in the county. I laughed and said, “OK, let’s get ready.”
After 10 minutes the big buck was about 115 yards away and sticking close to a doe. “Oh No, Dad, he’s gone!” The look on her face could have made any man cry, but I quickly comforted her and let her know to stay ready that he would come back. Sure enough, not a moment too soon, the monster of Maverick County re-appeared. I did my best to coach her, keep her calm, and hoped her shot would be true. “Take a big deep breath, let half out and squeeze…” Boom! The gun bellowed out loud and her deer instantly hit the ground.
Maddie’s buck was down and her grin as wide as the Grand Canyon. We sat as long as we could to make sure that her buck had expired. We finally got down and went to check out her trophy. The deer was a mainframe 10-pointer with three kickers and sported a 19-inch inside spread. Unfortunately, he was a fighter and had broken about an inch off his right main beam and probably four inches off his left G-4. Even with these broken points the buck would go well over 140 inches.
None of this mattered to little Maddie. She had just taken her first buck only a few weeks after killing her first deer. We enjoyed the moment for a while, snapping plenty of pictures and watching the whole thing on video together. So, now the big question is, “What have I started?” How can a 9-year-old girl possibly surpass this feat? I’ll let you know next year.