As the sun began to light the sky, I sat with anticipation of what would appear in the wheat field where my dad and I were hunting one day long ago. With a lot of squinting through my 8X binocular, I could turn almost any object into a deer. If there was one out there, I wanted to see it first, as there was a lot of money on the line. Dad would always tell me that $5 would go to the one who sees the first deer.
On that day I won, picking out a doe in the darkness slipping down the fence line. I whispered to my dad about my victory by pointing to the doe and turned my attention to the area where she came from, in hopes of spotting a buck trailing her. A few minutes had passed, then Dad leaned over and said, “That doe is rubbing her horns in that mesquite tree.” I did a complete 180 and had my gun out the window fast enough to make any gunslinger proud.
I centered my crosshairs on its neck as Dad leaned and said, “Just breathe, relax, and… .” My .222 rang out and dropped the buck immediately. I then think my dad said something like, “We will wait a few minutes, or make sure he stays down.” I’m not sure what was said, as I was already out the door of the box blind and on my way to put my hands on my first buck. My buck turned out to be what is now known as a cull buck, with no antler on his left side and an 8-inch antler on the other. He wasn’t the monster I had dreamed of so many times, but I was happy, as was my dad. I had done as he taught and I had seen him do so many times before.
Now, some 20 years later, I would sit in an elevated box blind with my two daughters over a large food plot. As the sun would turn so many things into deer, Kynlee, my 9-year-old, would point out deer through the same 8X binocular I looked through so many years before, only to find out it was a rock, bush, or just the wind. Kylyn, my 17-year-old, eagerly sat in hopes of getting a shot at her first deer. I leaned towards them and said, “Five dollars to the first one who sees a deer,” just as my father had said to me so many times before. We were looking for a doe or a cull type buck on a large ranch that a life long friend, Tom Peebles, manages near our childhood town of Ranger.
With only one small nubbin buck showing itself, I told my girls this is why it’s called hunting, and if it were easy, everyone would do it. We would sit for about 30 more minutes when I peered out my window and spotted a deer crossing the food plot. One glance and I knew this was our deer. I could spot one long antler on one side but wasn’t sure of the other.
I quickly got Kylyn into position for a shot as I double-checked the buck with my binocular. With one look at him, I noticed how ironic life could be. Before she could get ready, the deer had passed out of the shooting lane, so we quickly moved to the other window waiting for the deer to get into position. He moved like he had somewhere to be and wasn’t grazing in the field as I had hoped.
Kylyn said, “I see him!” I asked with urgency if she thought she could hit him. With no response from her, and as the deer got farther from our position with each step, I asked again if she could get on him and make a good shot. Again, no answer.
I then said, “You got to tell me if you think you can hit him or not! Can you hit him?” She looked at me and said, with confidence that I had not seen in her before, “If he will stop, I can hit him!” I immediately grunted twice at him, and just like he knew what to do, he turned broadside. I said, “Relax, right through the …” Her .243 rang out as the buck began to run with certain limp I had seen so many times.
After a short 30-yard dash, he crashed in the field and Kynlee, who watched silently as the whole thing unfolded, said, “He’s down, he’s down. She got him!” Kylyn raised her head from the scope and said, “I got him!” giving me a look that could make a man rich if he could bottle it up and sell it. I used a rangefinder to see how far the shot was, and it measured 187 yards to the spot where the buck made his final sprint. I knew this would not be our last trip to the deer blind. It makes me sad in a way, but it brought no greater joy to me than taking them hunting and having success.