Camo And A Buck For Her
By Rod Phillips
As a deer hunter I think it’s safe to say that all deer hunters share a common bond when remembering our first encounter with a buck while hunting. I know I still remember my first buck in detail from 34 years ago. You can imagine my excitement when my little girl, Danielle, told me she wanted to go deer hunting this upcoming season. I immediately got on the phone and asked one of my good friends if I could borrow his youth model .223. In a matter of days, we were out in the desert taking target practice and going over hunter and gun safety.
Before we knew it, deer season was right around the corner and there was only one thing left to do, buy “little girl” camo. I figured a quick little shopping spree at our local sporting goods store would suffice. Unlike us guys, her camo had to match from head to toe. Now that we bought our new boots, pants, matching shirts, insulated underwear, socks, coveralls, coat, hats, hand warmer and hunting license (thank God for credit cards), we were ready to leave the next day.
On the way to my deer lease, I tried to explain to her that being patient while deer hunting is very important. I let her know the importance of being very still and to whisper instead of talk. What I really wanted to tell her was that probably nothing would happen the first 1 1/2 of sitting in the deer blind, and not to get discouraged.
We arrived around 2 p.m. and got everything together. My dad graciously volunteered to run the camera for me. I could tell that it made her feel important to be the “star” of this show.
We finally got in the deer blind and settled in when I caught a glimpse of some movement through the trees at about 100 yards away. I motioned to my dad that I thought a doe was coming. As my dad made the camera ready, I took a quick peek through my binocular to see if there were any more behind her. To my surprise all I could see were antlers.
I honestly couldn’t believe it. We hadn’t been in the stand a total of 5 minuets. Well, I can only speak for myself, but suddenly I got “buck fever.” I have always prided myself for being cool as a cucumber in such situations, but this time it was different. It’s my little girl.
I remember whispering “shooter buck.” As he began to walk closer, I tried to get Danielle in a proper position to make a good shot, and at the same time, maintain my composer and not let on how nervous ol’ dad really was. I remember thinking to myself, “Man this buck isn’t very smart. Here he is 70 yards away and walking in the wide open.” At that moment he stopped for a few seconds and looked up toward us. Then he took a few steps the other way and was back in the trees. I suppose he was a little smarter than I initially thought.
She did the right thing by not taking a shot she wasn’t comfortable with. As we talked over our close encounter, I noticed more movement in the trees. This time a small group of does and one little fork-horned buck fed right in front of us. Luckily for him we were only going to take an eight-point or better. We filmed him and the other deer for a while, which gave Danielle a chance to watch and observe the deer and their behavior.
Watching the deer helped us pass the time, when suddenly, little “Forky” looked over his back shoulder and started to stare into the trees. My dad and I knew what this meant, and I quietly got Danielle on my knee and ready. Sure enough, out came an eight-pointer and walked right towards little Forky to show him who was boss. At 30 yards away, this buck stood broadside and my dad zoomed in on him with the camera.
My dad couldn’t see the other deer looking right at us. After coming in and out of shooting range, the buck again offered Danielle an opportunity to take a good shot. This buck was less than 30 yards away. At this point he snaps his head up and looks right at us. I knew he was ready to bolt and run. Then suddenly… BOOM!
The rifle went off and this buck stood straight up on two legs and almost flipped over backwards. I remember looking over into the camera to see a Texas-size grin coming from my dad. I was so excited to see my daughter breathing heavily and saying that she thought her heart was going to pound out of her chest.
I can easily say in my 37 years of hunting, this was my favorite and most exciting hunt of them all. So I leave you with this. Take a kid hunting. You owe it to whoever taught you, to yourself, and most of all, him or her.