January/February 2013 EBJ (Issue 75) - The 2012 hunting season for Brenon can be looked at in several ways. Everyone who hears the story of his experience says the same thing; "Oh, what a lucky kid! He’s ruined for life!” I guess from their perspective there might be some truth to that sentiment. Personally, I choose to see it from a different light. I believe his passion and drive to appreciate, study, hunt and live the outdoors will now reach a level I’ll only dream of. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience to teach my son this important principle.
Brenon spent the summer before his 13th birthday putting in the time, resources and energy it takes to be successful with a bow. His entire summer was spent mowing lawns in an effort to save enough money to buy his own bow and all the fun gear that goes with it. Thank goodness, Santa Claus was paying attention and found a way to help him with what he couldn’t afford.
The 2011 deer season came and went without filling his tag, but not because we didn’t see any game. That year it was all he could do to pull back the required 40# draw weight on his new bow, which unfortunately put him just outside a few opportunities to take a wandering buck. I was elated to see his lingering excitement and first experience of buck fever, despite bringing home the infamous unfulfilled trophy tag. I knew I had an up and coming bowhunter on my hands and took it upon myself to ensure he was stronger for next year.
In 2012, we were both successful in drawing a general archery tag in our favorite Utah hunting grounds. We began our mission with months of scouting. Marking GPS waypoints were all part of building the adrenaline and anticipation of opening morning. Big bucks, small bucks and countless elk filled the area. We had clearly picked a well-traveled area that would be an ideal location for a treestand.
On opening day we found ourselves sitting patiently 25-feet up in the aspen trees, waiting for the sun to finally peek over the ridge. The quiet of the morning was suddenly obliterated by a barrage of four-wheeling bandits who had clearly slept in and were making a mad dash for their own secret hideouts. We cringed as each four-wheeler screamed past the meadow. As a result of the "extra friendlies” also sharing these public hunting grounds we missed seeing the big bucks that morning.
That afternoon we returned to our tree stands after a steady rain had come through. As I expected, in no time at all, we were ambushed by a decent two-point and a small spike. I signaled to Brenon. The crinkle of his dripping poncho spooked the deer as he stood to draw. They bounded off just outside the reach of his 30-yard pin and slowly disappeared into the trees. We agreed it was a good time to shed the ponchos and eliminate any unnecessary noises.
Within another 10 minutes, Brenon signaled to me. He could see another buck making his way down the trail. This time it was a small three-point, but definitely something Brenon had already agreed with himself to shoot. I sat there mesmerized in my treestand as I watched the buck wander his way within reach of Brenon’s 15-yard pin. He came to his feet in one slow, calm motion, like he’d done it for years. Now came my worst fear; would he be able to draw his bow in that moment of uncontrollable emotion? In a single, smooth action he came to a full draw and patiently waited for that perfect broadside shot. It happened so fast. The arrow flew from its rest and slammed into the dirt and foliage on the high side of the buck. The young buck jumped and scampered only a few feet. It wasn’t acting like it had been hit and then sadly confirmed the devastating truth as it turned 360 degrees and began walking down the game trial towards me. His shot was placed just a few inches over the buck’s back. Without hesitation, Brenon knocked another arrow and maneuvered to jockey for a second shot. The young buck took a few steps off the beaten path and veered between a few pines, destroying any chance Brenon had to redeem himself.
For a full account of Brenon's adventure, go to page 22 in the January/February 2013 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.