Getting ’Em Hooked On Hunting

When a 12-year-old gets home from school and wants to go deer hunting, you get her in the woods!

GON Staff | November 15, 2019

We hear all too often how hunter numbers are on the decline. We hear about kids these days who have so many distractions and options for how to spend their time. We hear that hunting doesn’t hold the attraction it once did to youngsters.

We’re going to say that’s certainly not the case for the GON community.

The GON kids are killing some great bucks! Take a look at the bucks entered in our Youth Big-Buck Contest and the Truck-Buck Contest.

One entry this week that caught our attention was a Fayette County 10-point buck killed by 12-year-old Kayla Heard. It’s a great buck, no doubt, but it wasn’t the size of the buck’s rack that got our attention.

“The deer’s not going to win the contest. I know that,” said Kayla’s grandpa Joe O’Connell. “But I entered it so hopefully some other kids would see it and get excited about hunting, and also for the adults to see. Everyone needs to know that if you make the effort, these kids can fall in love with hunting.”

The story of this buck started on a cold Tuesday afternoon.

“Kayla decided when she got home from school she wanted to hunt,” said Joe.

“At 4 p.m., she got her camo on and called her uncle Tony O’Connell and asked him to come over to supervise her hunt. He did. With minimum supervision, she set the hunt up on her own. Checking the wind, she decided to hunt a blind located in the hardwoods that she knew had some big scrapes around it.

Kayla Heard, her uncle Tony O’Connell and Bailey, the Bavarian Mountain Hound, show off Kayla’s 10-point buck.

“The first hour of the hunt was pretty boring with no action,” Joe said. “Doing what 12-year-olds do now, she started texting her friends. After a few minutes she decide to look up at the area she was watching, and there a deer stood.”

Kayla said she couldn’t really make out whether it was a buck or not, so she continued to watch until the deer gave her a good look at his antlers. Suddenly she decided this was the one.

“As her hands trembled to get the gun in position and get the safety off, the deer moved in to a good position, giving her a quartering shot from 35 yards,” said Joe.

Kayla was shooting a 6.5 Creedmoor, and the buck left very little blood to trail. So Bailey and her Uncle Tony decided to go get Bailey, a Bavarian Mountain Hound, to help track the deer. Bailey tracked the buck for less than 100 yards.

“This is Kayla’s second buck of her life, the first being an 8-point last year. I think we have a kid who is definitely hooked,” said Joe. “She went back hunting last night, and she shot a little doe. She went to the deer cooler and gutted it with them—up to her elbows in it. She’s hooked. She would hunt every single night.”

When Kayla shot her first buck last season, her excitement was evident.

“We were watching two does and deciding whether to shoot one when grandpa saw this deer 215 yards away,” Kayla said. “We waited and he came to the does, and I shot him at 62 yards. My heart was about to come out of my chest.”

That type of excitement is what drives a youngster to want to get back in the woods. Hunting is fun. There’s really nothing like it.

“Thanks GON for allowing to promote this fine sport to a new generation,” said Joe.

Kayla got her first buck last season when she was 11 while hunting with her grandfather. It was a nice Fayette County 8-pointer. 

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