Kids In Deer Camp, Great Buck For Jeremy
Hunter's Journal: GON readers share their favorite hunt stories.
Reader Contributed | November 4, 2017
By Donnie Price
On Nov. 3, 2016, my son Jeremy got off the school bus with a larger-than-normal smile on his face. He and his little brother Jesse were headed to deer camp on the Talbot/Harris county line for a weekend hunt with me and their PaPaw. My goal for the weekend was to get Jeremy his first deer, so I had my sights set on a nice, plump doe for the freezer.
As daylight broke on the first morning, Jeremy and I were perched in a two-man ladder stand on the south end of a Harris County swamp bottom where it met a creek. After four hours of warmer-than-normal temps and high winds, we decided it was time for lunch.
The evening hunt took place from the same stand with the same enthusiasm, but the movement was slow, and again we saw no deer.
The next morning we decided to change gears and hunt a creek bottom on the Talbot tract that had quite a few different bucks on camera and a lot of activity. Just as daylight was breaking, the action got started. A young spike came down the creek bank with his nose to the ground but left nervously as he smelled where we walked in.
Just minutes later, Jeremy tapped my leg as he noticed movement headed our way. A 4-pointer was coming from the same direction as the spike. He, too, left nervously.
Several hours later, we heard the distinct sound of a deer walking in the leaves in front of the box stand. A deer had snuck in from a different direction. It was a wide 6-pointer that was not a legal shooter, but it capped off an exciting morning hunt for us.
For the evening hunt, Jeremy said, “Dad, I think we should go back to the Harris County tract. I’ve just got that feeling.”
So for the second evening, we chose a ground blind on the north side of the swamp we had hunted the previous day. After settling into the blind, we kicked back and enjoyed some great fall weather. However, the movement was slow most of the evening. After two days of hard hunting, the young hunter finally relented and asked, “Dad, do you think I can play on my tablet for a few minutes?”
With less than an hour of shooting light left, Jeremy silently held his tablet as I looked up a hardwood draw that extended out of the swamp and into the pines. With just a few minutes left in the hunt, I saw a buck headed our way.
My focus immediately went to getting Jeremy into position for a good shot. As the buck made its way to the edge of the swamp, it made a hard right-hand turn and headed north along the edge of the hardwoods and away from us. Just after the buck went out of sight, Jeremy asked for the grunt call. I was dazed at the thought that we just let a buck slip away, but the first loud piercing grunt from Jeremy whaling on the grunt call brought me back. I chuckled under my breath at my young son’s desperation attempts as he constantly blew the grunt call.
Anticipating the earlier shot, Jeremy was still perched on my lap with his 7mm-08 resting on the shooting rail and leaning against the oak tree that made up the corner of the blind. After probably the 20th grunt, and just when he thought he had run out of breath, Jeremy dropped the grunt call in a panicked whisper.
“Dad here he comes!” Jeremy said.
I strained to look for the deer coming back down the swamp, but the oak tree was blocking my view. However, I could definitely hear him coming.
“Dad, I’ve got him.”
“Jeremy, it has to have four on one side.”
“It has four on the right side,” Jeremy assured me.
The deer was approximately 75 yards across the swamp when the shot rang out. The deer immediately bucked up and ran up the hill into the planted pines with its back arched up and its tail tucked.
“I hit him! I hit him, Dad!”
We hugged and celebrated.
Then, Jeremy grabbed my phone… “Papaw, I shot a big buck, I hit him, it was big buck, tell Jesse, come help me, I love you, bye.”
Papaw and Jesse arrived a short time after dark to help track. The location of the deer when he shot was marked well, but there was no sign of blood there or up the trail where the buck had run into the planted pines. I was certain of a hit, so after some diligent looking and circling, we called Justin Strickland for help with his dogs Kota and Blue.
I met Justin at Strickland Farms where I get my Buck Muscle Protein feed. Justin was out of town on a hunt, but his dad agreed to come out.
Mr. Strickland and his youngest son took Kota, Blue and a pup that was training to the sight of the shot. After only a few minutes of searching, Blue had found the beautiful 9-pointer.
After the Stricklands helped the hunters drag the heavy-bodied deer out, Jeremy, Jesse and I were on our way to Hadley’s Taxidermy and Processing in Pine Mountain as Papaw stayed at camp. Jeremy helped unload, hang and even cape his deer.
Ryan from Hadley’s recovered the bullet, which had caught the vitals and buried in the opposite shoulder. While re-telling the story over and over, Jeremy said the hardest part was trying to shoot while Dad was shaking so bad.
As we left Hadley’s, both my sons were ready for bed since it was after midnight at that point. The excitement had worn them down.
As little Jesse was snoring and Jeremy was fading fast, he looked up at me and said, “ Maybe next time we can get that doe you wanted me to get so bad!”
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