Ada Brooks Long Earns Her Stripes

Reader Contributed | May 2, 2023

By Shawn McDonough 

My wife and I recently bought a second home on a private lake in Kite, which is located in Johnson County. We have been renovating the home for the last couple of years, and it has become a great place to take the whole family to go fishing, canoeing, hunting and simply to learn about and enjoy the great outdoors. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like they’re teaching that type of thing at school much these days, so it’s up to us to teach this pastime to our children so that it’s never lost. 

I really enjoyed how convenient our new home was to the lease I was on at the time, as I only had a 20-minute drive to my stand. Kite, which is home to some of the best people on the planet, is 6 1/2 hours from our home in Florida, so the 20 minutes was great. But then things got even better! About six months before this past hunting season, I went down to the local (and only) gas station to get an egg sandwich and some coffee. While there, Miss Holly, a local and one of our newest friends, was flipping eggs and telling me all the latest gossip. She mentioned one of her regular customers and assumed that I knew exactly who she was talking about, but for some reason I had never met him. Shortly after that breakfast sandwich, I was introduced to Mr. Derrick Farris, a successful commercial contractor from north of Atlanta. He and a group of lifelong friends have been hunting in Kite for longer than a decade. We discovered we enjoyed many similar things, and a new friendship was in the works. 

Shortly after the meeting, I was invited over for dinner at the camp. Before I knew it, I was invited to join their lease. It’s a quality deer management lease made up of a group of gentlemen who have been hunting together since the early 90s. I thought the best part of this new lease was the fact that it was not only in Kite but was directly across from the front door of our new house. However, now my grandkids, nieces and nephews could walk under the bridge to their future hunting stand, never crossing Highway 221. 

Now that I’ve gone through one season with this great group of guys, I have come to realize that it’s those gentlemen and those relationships that are truly the best part. At every turn, these gentlemen have been there to help me and my family completely enjoy our hunting season. They have driven miles and miles throughout the property, showing us around, helping me set up stands and feeders and set strategies for success. They have always made me feel at home and have welcomed me to many meals and stories around the campfire.

So how did my first season go? Great! The guys put me on multiple stands on several different tracts, and I harvested the largest deer I’ve ever taken. I was barely out of my stand before Derrick and another awesome member, Jim, were coming through the woods with a 4-wheeler and a truck to help with the retrieval. But that’s only the beginning of this GON Hunter’s Journal entry.

My great niece Ada Brooks Long is 13 and one of my favorite hunting partners and best friends. We are connected at the hip and do as much outdoors together as we can. She is a great shot and an excellent huntress. She really likes to bowhunt, too.

Ada has only been in the woods with me. I’ve taught her what I think is the best practice to give her the best opportunities to experience the beautiful nature that God has given us. 

On Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, Derrick suggested we hunt his covered box stand that was elevated and in the bottom of the dove field and looking at a wood line. He had seen several small bucks and many does from that stand a few days before. Ada was excited, but she still fell asleep. I promised her I wouldn’t tell anyone, so keep that on the DL.

We sat for a couple of hours with no buck sightings, but we enjoyed watching five does feed in a food plot. I asked Ada if she wanted to take one of the larger does, and she put the doe in her sights, waited and then picked her head up and said, “Nope, that’s not my shot.” She felt like it was too far, as it was about 180 yards. I told her that was a great call. Only take a shot that you’re comfortable with all aspects of.

Then it was finally prime time. I told her to keep an eye on the wood line in hopes that a buck would come out. I also told her to watch the does to see if they looked back toward the woods. Then, there he was, like clockwork, a buck! He came out of the woods and walked halfway into the field, turned broadside, giving her a great opportunity. She swiped the hair from her eyebrow and put the 6.5 Creedmoor rifle to her shoulder, set her cheek on the stock and looked through the scope and asked me if she could shoot. I told her to push the safety off and shoot when she was ready. Bang! Then were her tears of joy and excitement!

Ada is now teaching me things, like her successful neck shot that dropped the buck in his tracks. I used the same gun a week earlier and shot my largest deer to date. The processor called and said my bullet hit his heart, but nobody told the deer as he ran 125 yards away from me after I shot him at 30 yards. Not Ada’s buck! He was graveyard dead at 100 yards. Unlike Luke Bryan, she didn’t have to ask “Is he down, Hunter? Is he down?” (Look that up on YouTube if you haven’t seen it yet.)

Ada never got the chance to meet her grandfather, but she has his old .410 /22 over and under that he used to carry at her age. I had it restored for Christmas one year, and it’s ready for a squirrel hunt one day soon. He also left Ada the story of “stripes.” Stripes is all she said she wanted this last fall. I didn’t understand what she meant at first, and then I realized she was talking about the tradition of putting blood on her face after her first kill. 

With ears still ringing and lots of excitement, we got down from the stand and went to the deer. As she sat on the ground behind her trophy, still smiling from ear to ear, I pretended to help get the buck’s head turned the right way, but I reached down and stuck two fingers in the bullet hole in his neck. In the same motion, I swiped two finger “stripes” of warm, dark red blood on each side of her face. I thought she would be squeamish or even want it off. But with each stripe, her smile grew even bigger, like her grandfather was sitting next to her. I don’t think she washed them off until bedtime. 

I will be forever thankful for this opportunity and all the hunting journal entries yet to come with our new hunting camp friends and all of our nieces, nephews and grandkids. This feeling is 10 times better than just hunting by yourself. #takeakidoutdoors.

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