My son Samuel began deer hunting at the age of seven. I have taken him to Ohio to hunt multiple times and we have spent countless hours together in a treestand. Thinking of the magical memories of each hunt makes me smile, but time passes quickly.
Since he turned 16 two years ago, I have encouraged Samuel to start selecting locations to hang stands and to hunt. Samuel has chosen some incredible spots to hunt, but he hasn’t killed a deer from one of his sets. Somehow though, Samuel sits in dad’s treestand and always shoots a bigger buck than me!
In the fall of 2020, I killed a beautiful eight-point buck on Halloween. Samuel was hunting a buck with a unique non-typical rack, but he never saw the deer during archery season. He wasn’t worried because he knew the gun season was just around the corner, and dad was tagged out!
Just His Luck
After sitting in his stand on the first day of rifle season and not seeing the non-typical buck, Samuel asked if he could sit in my lucky treestand. Of course, I told him yes, and wished him good luck. On the second morning, Samuel killed his target buck five minutes after getting into my ladder stand. After celebrating and taking pictures, Samuel thanked me for allowing him to sit in my lucky treestand. Yep, his buck was significantly bigger than mine.
In the spring of 2022, Samuel injured his ankle while playing soccer. After therapy, seeing multiple doctors, and trying to play again, his ankle wasn’t improving. So, he had surgery to repair his ankle in June and then started therapy in July. He was in a walking boot for most of the summer, but that didn’t stop him from shooting his crossbow and preparing for archery season.
Samuel was finally out of his walking boot by the middle of September. He helped me hang a few lock-on stands and plant a food plot. My Spypoint Flex cameras kept sending me pictures and videos of beautiful bucks, and I would share them with Samuel. We were both excited for the first day of the archery season.
Saturday, October 1 was the first day of the archery season. Samuel and I woke early to a beautiful, cool morning. Together, we walked the logging road on our property toward our stands. I watched Samuel walk down the trail to his stand before I went to my treestand. We hoped to see one of the numerous bucks that we had seen on my trail cameras.
My morning hunt was outstanding! I watched a family of raccoons climb a nearby tree and go to sleep. A small spike buck walked by my stand and bedded in the hemlock trees. Before getting down from my treestand, I watched three does pass through the swamp.
I met Samuel on the logging road and listened to him talk about his morning. He saw eight does and three small bucks. Samuel told me he planned on shooting a doe, but he was hoping one of the shooter bucks would show up. None of the target bucks showed up, but that didn’t matter to Samuel. He was excited that the deer had moved all morning.
The following Saturday, Samuel had a soccer game in the morning. Since I am the coach, neither of us could hunt. It was a shame we couldn’t hunt then because a cold front moved into the area and the deer were active on my trail cameras. Numerous shooter bucks were working multiple mock scrapes I had made.
Samuel wasn’t disappointed that we couldn’t hunt because it was Senior Recognition Day. His team played well and earned a 6-0 victory. Samuel spent time with his teammates eating pizza and discussing their favorite soccer memories. After an exciting morning of soccer, Samuel and I were thrilled to head to our treestands for the evening hunt.
A steady wind blew directly out of the west. It was unseasonably cold for early October and we had snow earlier in the week. Samuel went to his treestand on our property, and I went to my stand on the neighboring property near a large clover field.
Samuel and I traded text messages from the stand. Neither of us had seen any deer. My stand faced westward, and the steady breeze made my eyes water. As the evening passed, I prayed the wind would die down. I watched the sun slowly sink behind the trees and noticed that the wind had stopped.
A mature doe cautiously came out of the wood line and began eating the lush green clover. I grabbed my bow, hoping to fill one of my antlerless tags. Patiently I waited for the deer to move closer. While I focused on the doe in front of me, I could hear deer walking behind me. I heard a deer grunt and then heard deer running. I looked behind me and saw a small six-point checking my scrape.
The buck worked the licking branch and then disappeared into the thick cover. When I turned back around, I noticed the doe was only 23 yards away. Before drawing my bow, I heard another low grunt. I grabbed my Smokey’s grunt tube and made three short grunts. The deer grunted back and began walking towards me. Forgetting about the doe, I focused on the buck coming in my direction.
Coming At Me
I heard the deer walking but was unable to see him. The vegetation behind me and to my right was thick. The deer stopped, worked a tree with his antlers, and then continued walking. Finally, the deer stepped out of the brush and stopped 10 yards away. The bone-white rack glowed in the fading light and I quickly counted eight points.
Patiently, I waited for the buck to give me a shot. I watched the deer’s head disappear behind branches and drew my Darton Specta E. My pin floated on the buck’s vitals and I released the arrow. The red Glorynock looked like a laser beam streaking toward the deer. I watched the arrow disappear and the buck began to run.
The deer vanished into the ravine behind me and crashed. I immediately texted Samuel to tell him the great news. Samuel congratulated me and said he would stop at home to get the deer sled and more people to help drag the deer. I relaxed in my stand and watched the remaining streaks of red disappear in the sky.
I stood at the base of my treestand in the darkness breathing in the cold air. Soon, I could hear two familiar voices. Samuel brought his sister, Abigail, to help find the buck. My children walked closer to me, and when they were close, I jumped out and scared them. Abigail screamed and Samuel laughed.
The buck had to be close because I heard him crash. My arrow dripped with bright red blood, and the trail was easy to follow. My children loaded the deer in the sled and began dragging it to the car. With my buck tag filled, I could now concentrate on reducing the antlerless population on my property.
Throughout the next week, Samuel was busy with school and soccer. The weather remained unseasonably cold, and the deer movement was spectacular. My trail cameras kept me briefed on the bucks working my mock scrapes. One particular nine-point kept coming to the same scrape every evening and working the licking branch. I showed the pictures to Samuel, and he asked if he could sit in my treestand that overlooked the mock scrape. Again, I told him yes, and I knew what would happen.
On the evening of Saturday, October 15, one week after I shot my buck, Samuel was sitting in my treestand. I hunted our 12-acre property looking for a fat doe. Samuel texted me numerous times about deer that were feeding in the clover. He told me five different bucks were checking does and feeding. I wished him luck and told him to shoot a big one.
I wondered what Samuel might be seeing as he sat in my treestand. My phone was silent and he had stopped sending texts. The shadows in the woods grew darker, and still, my phone was silent. My hunt was uneventful, so I began to pack up my gear. While climbing out of my stand, I felt my phone vibrate in my chest pocket. My heart raced with anticipation of reading the text. The minute I was on the ground, I opened my phone and read the text from Samuel. The message said, “Bring the Deer Sled!”
Get a Sled!
I rushed home to drop off my gear, get the deer sled, and ask Abigail if she wanted to help track a deer. Abigail dressed quickly and grabbed a headlamp. She and I drove to the neighboring property and walked to my stand.
Samuel had his headlight on and stood in the clover, waiting by the mock scrape I made. Abigail and I met Samuel, and he began to tell us about the hunt. Stammering over his words, he explained that there were five shooter bucks in the clover feeding and checking does. He passed on four of them because the shot would have been over 50 yards. He wasn’t comfortable shooting his Barnett crossbow that distance, so those four bucks got a free pass.
Then, speaking even faster, my son shook as he told us about the nine-point that came to the mock scrape. The buck worked the licking branch and gave Samuel a 15-yard broadside shot. Samuel whispered as he talked about slowly squeezing the trigger of his crossbow and watching the green Glorynock disappear through the buck. He pointed to where the deer stood and showed us the blood.
Samuel and Abigail worked together to follow the blood trail. The Thorn Rift 2.2 broadhead created a tremendous blood trail that was easy to see. After walking 50 yards, the kids found the buck in the tall grass.
Samuel hugged his sister and thanked her for helping. As he was admiring his trophy, I snuck in beside him. Samuel was speechless for a few moments, and then he thanked me for letting him sit in my stand. We took pictures before loading the deer into the sled. I carried Samuel’s crossbow and the kids dragged the deer to the car.
Later that evening, Samuel and I scored his buck. He was confident that his deer would score higher than mine. After adding all the numbers, I told Samuel the score. Samuel grinned, knowing his buck scored two inches larger than mine. Once again, he had shot a larger buck than I did, from out of my stand.
It doesn’t bother me that my son shoots bigger bucks than I do. Watching both of my children succeed and appreciate the outdoors warms my heart. I look forward to more memorable hunts in the future. Maybe next year, I will shoot a bigger buck!