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There is nothing quite like hunting exotics in the 97 degree south Texas heat. Ain’t saying it’s the greatest thing ever, but let’s just say you really come to appreciate a breeze in the afternoon.

I learned of a rancher that was offering cheap axis buck and doe combo hunts to thin them out so his whitetails would have more browse and cover. I set one up for my 10yr old and I, and the rancher said we could stay as many days as we needed until we got our deer. That’s great, but I gotta go to work! First two sits, we hunted 4 and a half hours each time with no luck. That’s four and a half hours in a blind in dead calm humid 85 degree temps in the morning and blazing 97 degrees in the afternoon. Lordy, we drank a lot of water!

Third hunt was yesterday afternoon, and the heat of the day built some storm clouds and dumped rain on us. Right in the middle of the downpour a nice 32” axis walks out. I busted him with my 30-06. Never shot a deer in the rain before. Even though I was happy and excited about my buck, I was still feeling the pressure of wanting so badly for my son to get his deer.

We hunted another three hours that evening with no luck whatsoever. We just weren’t seeing any movement on the axis even though whitetail and blackbuck were roaming everywhere. We made a plan to hunt a different stand this morning, and when we woke up to a cool (78 degree) morning with a gentle dry breeze, I felt really good about my son’s chances. Our hopes were dashed when the breeze died and not a single animal was moving. We moved back to the stand where I’d shot my buck, and the rancher was so frustrated with the axis that he drove the perimeter of the property shooting his Colt 45 to stir up whatever he could. Still nothing. I was beginning to dread an unsuccessful hunt for my son, and a long drive home at midnight.

My son knows not every hunt or fishing trip is successful, but he worked really hard practicing with his JM Marlin Spikehorn 30-30. I’d bought it NIB a number of years ago in hopes one of the kids would enjoy using it. My younger son bonded with it, and although I considered it my rifle for all the kids to use if they wanted, my 10yr old really made it his. I explained to him what made it a good desirable gun, and he appreciates its quality, and now its accuracy. He worked his way up to 100yds with it, and can put three rounds into an honest inch with the Fusion 170gr ammo. The gun is amazing and shoots better than some Weatherby‘s I’ve owned. We’ve worked on breathing, taking time to make a good shot, mental focus for when things aren’t what you expected, and how to settle the adrenaline rush when that deer finally walks out. For all that work and build up only to go home without even having a chance was going to be very tough. All I could do was stay positive and just hope we saw something that gave us a chance.

Late this morning after sitting in the second stand for a good hour and a half, three axis does appeared out of the mesquite and cactus thicket and actually began grazing in our shooting lane. After weeks spent coaching my son through staying calm and breathing to slow everything down in preparation for making a good shot, I threw all that out the window and went crazy trying to get him ready to make a shot. He actually turned to me and said “Dad, don’t rush it. Breathe. We have to make a good shot. Now hand me my headphones.” Right! Yes! Slow down! Make a good shot! Breathe. Dang it, just shoot one of those deer son!

Then a whitetail walked out and mixed with the axis. I told him to ditch the first two that had walked out and focus on the one that was away from the whitetail. As he reset, they all trotted into the mesquite thicket. He was immediately upset as he felt his one and only chance had slipped through his fingers. I kept him on it and told him to begin looking for them 50yds to our left, where a small tank was placed just on the edge of the thicket. After another 10 minutes the grouped showed up on the edge of the tank.

I gave him the double tap on the shoulder signal that they were in range, and the shot was now his to take.

Three deep breaths, one last one...BOOM! I see hooves pointed skyward. He’s now crying at the release of tension and emotion, I’m woohoo-ing, and then I see a doe’s head pop up and then thrash about. I move him out of the way and put my 30-06 on where she’s fallen. I can’t see her through the cactus but I knew it was a good shot. No way was I letting this doe get away, so I held my scope on where she fell for 20 minutes, just daring her to get back up. We didn’t see any other movement, so we climbed down to go check.

As we approached, we heard her get up and fall back down. I had him crawl up next to me and sit down to make a finishing shot. We could just barely make out her spots through the cactus, and I had him take his time and settle in. One last round, and she was dead. As much as we wanted to celebrate, we had a good 10 minutes of picking our way through prickly pear, looking for snakes, and avoiding every other thorn bearing tree south Texas has to offer. What an incredible hunt for my son, down to the last morning, over 13 hours in the stand, and finally got his first deer.



Sorry this was so long, but an excited dad only gets so many first deer stories. Gotta make the most of em when you can!
 

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Congrats to you both!
 

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Congrats to both of you! Happy, happy moments!
 

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GREAT Story there Dad!
When my boys were growing up and had hunts with Dad - I always told'em that every hunt was successful whether we came home with game or not - because we were ALWAYS "making memories".
Treasure those times - they really do go by way too darn fast!

WYT-P
Skyhunter
 

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Well done, Hunter.
 

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I never had a son. Daughters hunt too. My youngest daughter learned to shoot as a small child, but never really hunted until about her sophomore year in college. She called and wanted to meet me at the hunting lease. It was about a three hour drive for both of us.

When we met there, it soon became apparent that she wanted to talk to her dad. We had several two person elevated box blinds on the lease overlooking feeders, water, and game trails. It was cold, so we closed the windows and quietly talked about life in general and some topics in depth. Deer came to the feeder. She scoped a six point and announced that she could not shoot a deer. I asked , why not. She replied that because the deer had big brown eyes like Mom. I told her that she did not have to shoot if she didn't want too.

Later a bunch of turkeys showed up. I asked her how about a turkey. She said yes. I coached her as to aiming point and trigger control.

Bang, flop. As we went down, about 90 yards, to check our kill, she advised that she was not sure how she felt about killing an animal.
Upon examining her kill, she announced that there was nothing to it. I asked what the difference was between deer and turkey. Her reply was that the turkey had beady eyes like a snake. She hates snakes. BTW, she made a good shot, only ruining one wing.

I enjoy mentoring the youngsters. I have taken Nephew and one of his friends on their first hunt. Also Cousinn's grandson. Cousin had a tendency to be busy tinkering or working on the fleet of jeeps. The kid and I had a strong bond because I took the time to teach him about deer, turkey, quail, and even bullfrogs down at the pond. I also showed him how to fish. He provided for a very ample catfish fry a couple of times.

Great fun,
 
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