The wait was over for my son, Tyler, as the first day of
the 2003 Ohio archery season dawned. Years of dreaming and preparation had
finally materialized into reality. It was an experience I will never forget.
It changed my hunting priorities and revitalized my passion for the sport.
Watching Ty methodically go through the ritual I had introduced him to was
thrilling. It was happening right before my eyes - the birth of a bowhunter.
Hunting is predictably unpredictable, though and the road to success was
anything but easy. We shared many memorable hours on stand and several nerve-racking
close encounters with deer. Most of our hunting was done on Dave Conrad’s
(Mohican on the Bowsite) property near Mt. Vernon. Dave is not only
my hunting partner but a great friend also whose selflessness is mind-blowing.
Trail camera pictures of a true giant non-typical, harvested a short distance
away that scored at 233”, and a few other large bucks led us to concentrate
our efforts in that area. The first day we had a beautiful 8-point buck pass
just out of range that would make any bowhunter’s heart leap! Later, one week
before the full blown rut kicked in, we witnessed a 140” drop-tine bruiser
chase a doe up and down the field for 20 minutes. We were having a great time.
Finally, on a cool November morning a doe walked nervously into Ty’s shooting
lane. If I weren’t afraid of hurting his feelings I would have burst out laughing
right on the spot as he shook in a manner that reminded me of an engine piston
and his shot flew 3 feet high! He was a little upset but mostly just embarrassed
and just couldn’t understand what happened. After discussing the fine points
of buck fever and a few tricks to control it he was ready for another opportunity.
That moment would come just 7 days later, or so I thought, near my home in
Wilmington. I sat in a make-shift ground blind while he perched in a tree
just 15 yards away on the edge of a field. Fifteen minutes before last light
several doe emerged from the tree line 20 yards from Ty’s position. The lead
doe angled directly toward him and came within 15 yards milling around as
she delicately picked up single pieces of corn left over from the farmer’s
crop. Ty drew his bow. After a short time she turned and walked straight away.
The hunt was over. As we gathered our gear I asked him why on earth he didn’t
shoot. His answer was simple, “she didn’t stop
moving long enough while in a good shooting position for me to make a shot
I was comfortable with”. I was one proud papa! That was a
level of maturity and discipline that I didn’t find until many years into
my hunting adventures. He explained that he had used the buck fever tricks
we had talked about and that he remained calm the whole time the bow was drawn.
I sensed, and was impressed with, his confidence and command of the situation.
It was yet unproven but it seemed genuine to me.
Soon, gun season was upon us and wanting so badly for Ty to taste success
I borrowed a shotgun from close friend, Greg Keeton (Tree stump on the
Bowsite), and had him practice with it. When the day drew near for us
to venture out with the gun Tyler shared something with me that floored me
– He didn’t want his first deer to fall to a gun. It was either bow or
nothing at all. I was really a proud papa!
The year ended and Ty’s tags went unfilled but he was ok with that. He has
seen some amazing sights and learned some valuable lessons. I also had learned
a lesson; do not underestimate the ability or character of a young person
based on your own past actions or what the “norm” may be. My son had shown
himself to be of great resolve and maturity beyond his years during the season.
I am proud to be his father.
2005 found us spending most of our time on another of Dave Conrad’s properties
in Loudonville, actually the family farm where he grew up. Ty was shooting
a new Bowtech Justice (what a sweet bow!), which he had practiced with for
hundreds of shots - He was ready! Granny’s (Granny is what everyone calls
Dave’s mom) farm had great potential with high deer numbers and some great
bucks. Tyler actually had a P&Y class buck right underneath his treestand
with his bow drawn. He never took the shot because while he could see the
deer in his peep sight he couldn’t pick a particular spot on the deer to aim
at due to fading light conditions. Great restraint.
Dave’s fortunes were realized on another farm almost 1-½ hours south. I’ll
let Ty tell the story, in his words, from our first day out in 2005…
“We were out on the first day with our stand on the field line when a deer
showed itself coming our way. It was walking slowly and finally made its way
a couple of steps out of my shooting lane and just stopped, put its head up
acting funny and bolted back where it came from. We were shocked. We hadn’t
moved or made any noise but the answer to it was the two coyotes that came
jogging along chasing her! We left that morning shocked and disappointed.”
When we went back to the truck I noticed a “missed call” on my cell phone.
I checked the number and told Ty to get in the truck – we were leaving. The
number was Dave’s cell phone and I knew he wouldn’t be calling
that early unless his wife had the baby or he scored on the big one we had
been watching. Either way, we were on our way. Dave had worked so hard for
this giant buck scouting hard, planning and getting trail camera pictures
because he knew, with a baby soon to be born, that he had to make it happen
fast if it were going to happen at all. Half way to Dave’s other property
we got the call, Dave had zipped an arrow through the bruiser with his Bowtech
Patriot Dually just 15 minutes into the season and was asking if we could
help track it. He laughed when I told him we were already half way there and
closing in quickly! Once we arrived Dave told us the story and guessed where
he thought the buck most likely went. After talking it over and deciding that
the time was right, we set out. Dave was seriously nervous but the blood trail
told the story; we were going to find this deer. Ty was the first to see the
monster and after Dave confirmed with his binoculars we all let out a shout
and ran to the deer. Dave’s first words were, “it broke an antler off!” My
heart sunk but as I grabbed the side of the rack that still remained the earth
moved on the other side – he had driven the left side of his rack completely
under the ground all the way up to his head! What an experience!
After all the excitement Tyler and I headed back to Loudonville for our evening
hunt. We didn’t have any luck that evening or for the next two Saturdays.
Hmmmmm, this was going to be harder than I thought! Finally though, it happened….
“Finally we had a little luck when we came up (to Loudonville) one Saturday.
We didn’t have any luck in the morning but when we came back at night it
was a little better. We were in a stand down in the woods this time. I sat
there for a while with some hope that we were going to see something but
started to lose it (hope) as it got later. Out of nowhere came a small doe
and caught me off guard. I was able to get up and ready pretty quick without
her sensing me. She walked into my shooting lane at about 15 yards and I
drew back my bow and shot. I missed because she ducked as soon as I shot.
She trotted away a couple of yards and turned broadside allowing me to take
another shot. I got an arrow out of my quiver and nocked it onto my string
and again drew back my bow. I settled my pin behind her shoulder and let
it fly. It hit its mark and she gave a jump and ran off. We went back to
the truck and drove to get a drink while we waited for about an hour and
a half but it seemed to me a couple of days. Finally we headed back to the
woods and picked up the trail. We went out to the power line and headed
into the woods where she had gone. We had alright blood and tracked her
for a while into the woods then the trail started to shift upwards out of
the woods and into the field. The field was mowed except for two patches
in the middle that had high grass (3ft high). We came up into the field
into the cut grass and the blood led us right up to the edge of the high
grass where we found my deer. My dad was so excited he hugged me so hard
he almost knocked the wind out of me and I could not believe it! I had finally
gotten a deer. I called Mom and Dave and thanked him for letting us hunt
on his land. Dave is a good friend. We gutted her out and headed home.”
here to congratulate Tyler on his first bow kill!
I cannot tell you how exciting that whole experience was for me as a father!
Before I had children, people would say that being a part of your child’s
first harvest was an incredible experience. Not without sacrifice but awesome
all the same. I never gave it much thought but can now confirm those statements.
Taking my 140” 10 point last year did not even come close in comparison. I
have six children and at least four of them have expressed an interest in
hunting so by the grace of God I hope to experience the above scenario over
|Bowsite Note: for 2005 we will be spotlighting as many
kids' features as we can get. If you're youngster has a good hunting story
we'd like to include it as a feature. Send them on along with any digital
pics to [email protected]!