Jared Knight, as told by David Knight
New Mexico, 2009, DIY, Public Land
A 200-inch mule deer; that’s what we’re all after. I’ve hunted 20 years in some of the best places around and still don’t have one. I’ve seen more than my share, but they’re smarter than we are, and few and far between to begin with, so the odds are against us. Sometimes it’s just meant to be, though.
My son, Jared, has been following me through the hills since he could walk, and I carried him before that. His first word was “buck”. He is a natural born mule deer hunter. He would watch his granddad and I shoot bucks year after year, and it killed him to only be able to watch. The minimum age to hunt in Colorado where we live is twelve, and that seemed like forever away to him. Luckily for him, New Mexico didn’t have age restrictions. So in 2006, at age 8, he finally got his chance.
His first hunt was an eye-opener for him. He is used to seeing three or four bucks a day here at home just on the bus ride home from school. This isn’t the case in New Mexico. There we average one or two deer every other day, does included. It’s a very low deer density area and extremely thick. The first two days came and went with only a few tracks seen, so when that nice two-point stepped out on the second evening, there was no hesitation. Jared had his first buck.
In 2007, we headed back and by now, he knew what to expect. Just like the previous year, the second afternoon magic struck again. We were glassing a sagebrush flat when a nice 23-inch 3x4 walked out broadside at 200 yards. One shot and he had buck number two.
In 2008, he got to experience the bitter taste of tag soup. This in itself is a valuable learning experience. We hit it hard the entire five day season, but it wasn’t meant to be.
For some reason, the “tag gods” seem to like that boy. For the fourth year in a row, he was drawn. So, in fall of 2009, we would be heading back.
The whole year started out sketchy. I was put on part-time at work, getting only 10- 15 hours a week. Money got really tight and my hunting tag credit card turned in to my bill paying credit card. The summer months were lean, with plenty of time but no money.
Word finally came that my company received a contract to work in Wyoming on a four-month job. I couldn’t turn it down; it was the only work available. That meant I would have to miss almost the entire fall of hunting. Fortunately, my boss hunts, too, and arranged for me to come back for the week of Jared’s hunt and again a few weeks later for my deer hunt in Colorado. I would have to give up my elk and antelope hunts, but I felt fortunate to get some time to hunt and help Jared.
Now, having gone from famine to feast, the hunt was back on. I drove from Wyoming the day before the hunt started, picked up Jared, and kept right on driving to New Mexico to be there for the opener. There was no time to be at home; we had a hunt to get to.
For a full account of Jared's adventure, go to page 22 in the February/March 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.