Proud Legacy
September 3, 2014
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Proud Legacy

Malison Fisher My daughter Malison has been going on pheasant hunting trips with me since she was 4 months old. Although she has not been able to pack a firearm and generally refuses to clean anything she didn’t shoot, she’s the best hunting partner a guy could ask for. With each passing year, she gets more excited about the next hunting season and more persistent with her shooting exploits. This year she stated that she was ready, willing, and able to contribute. After minimal convincing, I eagerly agreed. We were hunting in a long time spot out in Western Kansas. This is a spot where I grew up hunting with my father and not too far from where I took my own first deer. Kansas’ any-deer season runs for 12 short days and opened on the first Wednesday of December. All the remaining days in the year we spend anticipating and preparing for such a short event. As opening day came closer, the more excited she had become. We had planned to take her out of school for the last half of the week and had made arrangements with her fourth grade teacher to prepare all her schoolwork ahead of time and agreed to have her complete it during the evenings after hunting. Her upcoming hunting exploits were already the talk of the school. Malison’s first morning out was cold and windy. An unfavorable north wind blew, and had made it very difficult to get close enough for her to get a good clean kill shot. She did, however, get to experience many facets of deer hunting in Western Kansas. Because we do not use box blinds or feeders, she learned how to read deer signs and migration patterns, how to stalk and sneak, and she learned how to camouflage and conceal. Additionally, she was able to experience the discomfort of being exposed to the elements, to control that discomfort, to stay still and focused, and manage the anxiety of watching the buck you want being just out of range the entire time. We hunted for two more days and had passed on several nice bucks that were just outside of both her rifle’s capabilities and her comfort zone. For each deer passed on, Malison’s anticipation escalated. On the last day we had to hunt, her persistence was rewarded. Still with the strong north wind, we repositioned and had arrived in our new hunting spot concealed in the center of a very large cedar tree on the top edge of a creek line. She had pulled over some of the larger branches to conceal her silhouette and break some of the wind. On this particular day, the high temperature was 0 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of minus 7, more than uncomfortable for a 9-year-old girl, not to mention her grandfather and myself who sat in the makeshift break alongside her. After a couple hours of waiting, we had seen some movement about 75 yards ahead of us in the narrow timberline. The timber was bordered to the west with winter wheat and CRP grass to the east—perfect whitetail territory. However, it was nearly impossible to sneak up without alerting the deer. But, she had waited all she could when nature called. We decided it was too cold and windy to head back to the truck, undress, and go. So, we left Grandpa on post and hastily hurried back to the hunting cabin to use the bathroom and head back. Fortunately, the cabin was only 5 minutes away and offered an easy solution to her problem. As it was, this little distraction was all that was needed to spark some movement. Deer began to stir and we were able to see their movements off to the northeast of our location about a quarter mile away. As we returned to the field and pulled into the gully where we parked the truck, we could see the buck we had been looking for running in our direction along with eight other does in the lead. We were in the middle of an open pasture and had zero elevated cover.    We dropped to the ground and made our way another 50 yards to a lone locust tree that was at best, two inches round, six feet high, and completely bare of foliage. But, it was all we had and all we needed. Malison had paid attention to all the coaching her grandfather and I had offered over the last couple of days. She dropped to one knee, readied her homemade shooting sticks, controlled her breathing, and waited motionless. I whispered in her ear my best guess as to what the buck would do. I told Malison that I expected him to follow the contour of the hillside, turn towards us, and stop about 100 yards out at the old limestone fence post. “When and if he does, you will have a split second to take your shot, just before he jumps the fence and makes his way south to open pasture and well out of range.” As expected, the unsuspecting buck did just as anticipated. He turned towards our location, made his way to the fence, and stopped at the post to examine his options. That split second hesitation was all Malison needed. Malison had been monitoring her breathing, steadied her shot, then right as the buck crouched to jump, she fired and was rewarded with a beautiful first deer. Her grandfather and I could not have been more proud of her. Fortunately, this experience left her 100 percent addicted to big game hunting. She’s eagerly counting down the days to next season. I think she even sparked a little bit of jealous interest in her 6-year-old sister, Micah.

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