A First Buck To Remember

Hunter's Journal: GON readers share their favorite hunt stories.

Reader Contributed | December 7, 2018

By Justin Lance

Benton is my son who is 8 years old. He killed his first deer last season, a doe. Early this year during youth week he was able to bag another mature doe. Since that time, he has been determined to kill his first buck. We have hunted almost every weekend Saturday and Sunday trying to kill his first buck. We hunt on a management club that usually only wants to shoot mature bucks that are 8 points or better. One exception is for kids, of course.

I wanted Benton to learn about hunting for the right buck and not just to shoot the first buck we saw. So we passed on quite a few small spikes, 4-, 6- and 8-points all season. Many of those times he begged me to let him shoot one. I never caved because we have pictures of at least three different mature bucks at this one spot. I knew we had a chance if we kept waiting. It took a lot of patience, but he was able to do it.

On Saturday morning, Nov. 3, we sat in the same stand and did not have much activity until after 9:30. Finally, a couple of does came in and started feeding. Later a small 6-point came in and pushed the does around. Right after that, I spotted a nice, mature 8-point back deeper in the woods. I told Benton to get ready, so we got his gun propped and set him up for the shot when he stepped out. Unfortunately, the deer went after a doe and trotted through an opening without stopping. Benton, not being an experienced hunter, had to wait and could not get the shot. The buck ran after he doe and was gone.

Benton was devastated. He got tears in his eyes and told me that he didn’t think he would ever kill a buck. He also begged me to let him shoot the 6-point, but I wouldn’t give in, as bad as I wanted to.

We were not able to hunt again until the next afternoon on Sunday. Because of the time change that day, we got in the stand in little late, and two does and a 6-point were feeding. We had to wait until they moved on to get in the stand. Once we did, we had a few more does move through, but that was all.

Close to 5:20, we had a doe come running in pretty quickly. I told Benton to get ready because I thought a buck would be behind her. The deer came from our right, and sure enough a big mature 8 came in on the same path with its head down. I quickly got Benton to try and get on him while he was walking in. He hesitated, and the deer kept going. He said he could not find him in the scope. Again he was devastated.

I told him to wait, and he might come back, and sure enough the doe circled back to right out in front of us at about 30 yards. I turned Benton’s gun in that direction and told him to get ready, that the buck would be next. I held the gun on the gun rest while he steadied it and looked through the scope. The buck walked out and immediately looked up at us. I told Benton to freeze. He was shaking at this point. I knew the buck had made us, and he would bolt. I took the gun off safety for him and said, “Are you on him?” He said yes, and I told him to shoot. He did, and I saw the buck jump like he had been hit.

The next thing I heard was something no dad wants to hear from the deer stand. Benton start crying about his head. I looked over, and blood was running all down his face and already dripping down to the stand. I immediately pulled off my camo shirt and my under shirt to give to him. The scope about hit him right above the eye brow, and he had a pretty good gash with a lot of blood. We sat and applied pressure trying to get the blood to stop.

We gave the deer about 20 minutes and then went to look. Unfortunately because he started crying I did not continue watching which way the deer ran. We found good blood at the spot of the shot where the deer was standing. We followed the blood trail for about 30 yards and had good blood and decided to back out for a few minutes and make sure the deer was down.

Unfortunately, Benton’s head was still bleeding pretty bad and would not stop. I sent his mom a picture, and she freaked out and wanted him looked out immediately. So, I decided to go ahead and look for the deer a little longer. I found blood for about 50 yards, and then it stopped. Nothing more. I could not find blood anywhere. I walked and looked, but it was completely dark by then. Even a good friend came by and helped us look.

After an hour and many texts from my wife, I decided to leave and take Benton home. His head was still bleeding, so his mother went ahead and took him to the ER. To make a long story short, he ended up with four stitches and a tetanus shot.

He was so heart broken about not being able to find the deer. I was devastated, also. I read about blood signs and tracking a deer. I even looked at the property map to see where I thought the deer would go. I replayed the shot over and over all night.

The next day, I rearranged my schedule so I could go back and look as soon as possible. I walked into the spot right to where we last saw the blood. I walked another 50 yards in the woods and saw a large creekbed. If the deer was down, it was there. I walked over and looked down in the creekbed, and sure enough, there he was 30 yards away. I was so excited that I took pictures and sent them to everyone. I even sent his teacher a message to show him at school, so that it would cheer him up.

We retrieved the deer after a long drag up a hill. Benton was so excited, and we were able to get great pictures with his first buck. He and I will always remember this one, and if he forgets, he will probably have a scar to remind him.


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