The Dude’s first deer

EastTNHunter

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Where should I begin? The Dude is now 6-1/2, and was eligible this year for the first time to hunt TN’s statewide youth deer season. He’s always been drawn to hunting and shooting, and has accompanied me on hunts several times where I have killed deer and squirrels. Over the past year or so, he has become a huge fan of watching Carpe Sus shoot and necropsy hogs on YouTube, and has become quite enamored with the 6.5 Grendel cartridge largely because of him. He and I put together a 20” 6.5 Grendel AR15 frankengun this past spring (which he just refers to as “the Grendel”), and he has been practicing with it over the summer, really surprising me with his marksmanship. We have been practicing on targets of various sizes and distances up to 90yd, using different rests and having him shoot from different directions. We have been including a lot of dry fire practice to work on good form and prevent a flinch. Needless to say, it’s too heavy for a 6-1/2 year old to hold up and shoot without a rest.



Fast forward to this past weekend… cold rain in the forecast for opening morning, but we were planning to be in the shooting house anyway, affording him more stability and cover for his “wiggles”. It would also keep us dry.



Day breaks at around 7:30 and he’s in good spirits, being just as still and attentive as a 6-1/2 year old can be. But of course, he asks lots of questions, and by 8:30 he’s asking about lunch time. I explained that it’s not even 9 yet, and that it would be a little while still. Curiosity appeased, he turned back to watch the power line, where, unbeknownst to us, 5 minutes later the action would begin.



Two small antlerless deer busted out of the woods at different locations at the same time, one at around 150yd, and the other at around 50yd. Unfortunately the close one kept going through, but the furthest one stopped and started looking back towards where it came from. I asked The Dude if he could get on it, not intending for him to shoot it but to practice target acquisition. He told me that he could see it, but that he couldn’t get the crosshairs up to it. I reached over and squeezed the sandbag to get it higher, and then he said that he could get on it but that it was “a no-no shot.” I was proud. We’ve been going over pictures and videos of shot angles, and he can usually point to the perfect shot location on everything but quartering-to, on which he’s about 50-50 on having the shot too far back.



About that time, the other deer came back onto the power line, walked up to the furthest deer and stopped, perfectly broadside. I asked The Dude if he could get on it…

“Yes”

I asked if he was calm and steady…

“Yes”

I told him that if he could get right behind its shoulder and hold 3/4 of the way up then he could squeeeeze the trigger.



Slow exhale…

Bang…

Flop…

Deer down.



The other deer ran off, but kept coming back out at various closer ranges. Sometimes it would be broadside and moving, other times it would stop at poor angles. Every time The Dude would look through the scope and say, “that’s a no-no shot,” never even putting his finger on the trigger. I was so proud! I also let him know that hunting is not always going to be this easy.



After things calmed down a little, we started walking through the mist, which turned to a heavy rain as soon as we were about 50yd away from the shooting house. As we get closer and he sees the deer, it started to set in that he had killed his first deer. I looked at the shot location… perfect high shoulder shot. I took out the rangefinder and ranged back to the shooting house… 163yd. Dang! Not the way that it was planned, but quite the performance from the little guy.



He got excited and then ecstatic, saying that he was proud that he had gotten venison for his family. He kept saying things that I wish I had been able to write down so that they could be remembered, but I expressly remembered him saying several times, “it doesn’t get much better than this!”



And I agree.
 

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