By Clint Woods
It’s a proud time in any hunter’s life when your child comes to you and says, “Dad I want to shoot a hog or a deer.” So of course you want them to succeed and make it a great experience for them. That has happened twice in my life—first with my daughter Lacy at the age of 12 and now with my son Clay at the age of 8.
One day this past summer, Clay and I were headed out to check the feeders and game cameras at our hunting spot near our home. During the trip, Clay asked, “Dad can I shoot a hog?” of course I said yes, but first we need to go to the rifle range. So the next weekend we loaded up a .222 rifle and some targets into the truck and went to the rifle range. He shot about a box of bullets and did well for his first trip with a high power rifle. This would be the first of several trips to come.
On the next few trips I noticed he was having a hard time get comfortable behind the rifle. The stock was too long. This being somewhat of a special rifle for our family, we did not want to cut the stock down. I was on a new mission to find a gun that will fit him now and grow with him later. I soon settled in on a youth rifle at our local sporting goods store.
Deer season had opened and Clay was fired up and ready to get in the woods. I left work to go straight the store and purchase the rifle and bullets. When I got home and he saw the gun, you would have thought it was Christmas morning. The next afternoon I picked him up from school and we went back the rifle range.
The gun fit him perfectly, and he shot it better than anything else he had ever shot. His confidence was so high I almost had to tie a rope around him to pull him back down to earth. On the trip back home Clay asked, “Dad, can I shoot a deer?” and again my answer was, of course, yes.
We made plans to pick him up from school the next day and head out to the woods. We got to the stand at about 4:15 p.m. that afternoon. The deer usually started moving around 5 p.m. He had his snack and was being unusually quite when we heard something moving through the woods. Just to the right of our stand we saw a three-point buck. Clay watched with excitement as the buck came out of the woods and feed about 80 yards away.
Clay asked, “Dad, is he legal?” I said yes and the next words out of his mouth were, “Let me get over there.” I had to slow him down because he was so excited. I slowly got him set up in my lap and got the gun out the window with a set of shooting sticks supporting the back end of the rifle.
It took what seemed like forever and a day for the deer to get broadside. The buck finally got broadside and Clay was set. I made a grunt, the buck stopped, and I give Clay the go ahead. He made a great shot right through the shoulder and Clay’s First deer was lying there in the field just 40 yards from where he had shot him.
I could say Clay was excited, but that would have been an understatement for either one of us at this point. I looked at the clock on my phone and it was only 4:45 p.m. We called his mom and big sister and celebrated a few minutes. Then I said, “Clay, if we get quiet again, you might have a chance to get a hog today, too.”
The feeder by the stand is set to go off at 5 p.m., and we have a lot of pigs in the area. Sure enough, the feeder goes off and the pigs arrive. Clay’s like an old pro now. He slowly and quietly gets back in my lap and I get the gun out the window.
He settled in on one of the pigs and Boom—the gun goes off. I watched Clay’s second shot of the day found its mark just behind the shoulder of a nice red pig. The pig sped off into the woods just behind the feeder. Neither one of us could hold back our excitement anymore.
After the celebration in the stand it was time to go find his pig. We went down to the spot were Clay had shot him and picked up a short blood trail for about 40 yards to recover one nice red pig. Clay had done it and on the very first evening with his new rifle. We both had smiles and great memories for a lifetime.