An event of extreme importance

rmyoung1

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It’s tough being the youngest of three boys. My ten-year-old, Luke, always has to follow his brothers into everything. And he’s keenly aware of how they “do it better.” Never mind that when they were his age and everything was new there were no big brother comparisons. You know the drill if you’re the youngest or you have a youngest.

But this year, Luke turned old enough to get a youth deer tag in Montana. I made it my mission to make this as memorable as possible for the kid. I’d scouted out a couple of BMAs the previous year that I thought would provide a boy a good first experience and a chance at some Montana whitetails. And we left the big brothers at home.

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After arriving in Montana, we met up with my dad, my brother, and my nephew, Wesley, an 11-year-old hoping for his second buck. The warm weather of opening week made getting the boys out pretty easy. Smiles and excitement all around.

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Back in 2020, I bought Luke a 257 Weatherby magnum. Yes, a little hot for a youngster. But I had fun with it and tinkered around a bit as he grew. A Bell & Carlson stock cut down to 12-1/2” LOP was added this year. It now fits him well. And with the Weatherby accubrake threaded onto the end of the barrel, the felt recoil mimics the more kid-friendly .243. Luke printed some good groups with it this fall, and I followed him across the river with the 257 strapped to my pack.

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You made a classy choice on that rifle for your son. That's no Creedmoor and it has the benefit of outstanding MPBR. You are setting us up for a fine tale.
 
We made it across the river and settled under a shady cottonwood on the edge of a cut wheat field, the same field that delivered a whitetail to me and the 257 a year earlier. I explained to Luke that we would get him comfortable behind the rifle, lying prone over my pack and simply wait for the deer to arrive before sundown. He liked my plan for the first hour. But after 6pm came and went, he started getting fidgety.

“They’re not coming, Dad.”
“Yes, they are. We have nearly an hour left. We just need to be patient.”
“Hmmm. Ok.”

To pass the time and encourage good shot execution, I had him pick out fence posts and take practice squeezes. His barrel never wobbled and he looked pretty comfortable. I hoped for the best.
 
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Ten minutes or so after our little debate, I watched a deer skip into the wheat stubble. I pressed the binos to my face and started relaying information to Luke who was still prone behind his rifle.
“It’s a little buck, Luke. Do you see it?”
“Yeah, I see it. Can I shoot it?”
“You can shoot it if you want to.”
“I want to shoot it!!!!”

I could tell he was serious, so I had him hold on the buck while I got a range. About 190 yards out, the young buck found something appetizing. He fed broadside, and Luke looked steady.
“Okay, hold behind his shoulder and give the trigger a practice squeeze.”
Luke obeyed, and it looked smooth.
“Are you ready?”
“Yeah, I’m ready.”
 
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I flipped off the safety for my boy and he pressed the trigger. The buck couldn’t hit the dirt fast enough. And the look on my youngest’s face will stay with me until death or senility, whichever comes first. After an emphatic high-five, he jumped to his feet and ran toward my dad with his little fist high in the air.
Soon we all huddled around the downed buck and Luke gripped the antlers. Over and over he repeated: “I’m so proud of this.”

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I flipped off the safety for my boy and he pressed the trigger. The buck couldn’t hit the dirt fast enough. And the look on my youngest’s face will stay with me until death or senility, whichever comes first. After an emphatic high-five, he jumped to his feet and ran toward my Dad with his little fist high in the air.
Soon we all huddled around the downed buck and Luke gripped the antlers. Over and over he repeated: “I’m so proud of this.”

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Good work Dad. That’s parenting done right!
 
We cut up Luke’s deer, and I hauled it back toward to the river as darkness closed the boy’s first day of hunting. Back at the water’s edge, we had the chance to sit on the bank and watch the bright crescent moon illuminate the ripples and eddies. We chatted about the day that we both will never forget. And I hugged his little neck.

I’m proud too, Luke. So proud.

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