A Birthday Present to Remember
Apr/May 2011 EHJ (Issue 124)
Arizona, 2010, DIY, Public Land
- We decided to apply our nine-year-old son, Sid, for his first big game hunt, and lo and behold he drew his second choice. No adults in our household were drawn and Sid was not yet ready for his muzzleloader mule deer hunt.
The first step was to locate a hunter’s education class - not an easy task, since our community only offers two per year and Sid had missed both. It took some time but we were able to locate a class outside of our local community that was within a two-hour drive. Sid studied for months, sometimes struggling with the adult language of the book. After months of studying in between football practices and games, he took his one-day class and test. He passed, and so the first step was completed.
Several weeks before the hunt, we pulled out my muzzleloader and made the decision that Sid would shoot open sights. He shot groups that were amazing for his age and his novice experience. He practiced shooting from all positions, but shooting sticks were a must, due to his size.
The first Sunday of the hunt was actually his tenth birthday. Instead of having a birthday party, he was waking up at camp. Sid and his cousin, Ernie, were excited to both now be out in the field. The day ended in misery, as the wind was blowing 50 miles an hour and the rain was coming in sideways.
A few days passed and Sid now was starting to feel tired from many days of hunting, walking, and glassing in cold and windy conditions. He still had yet to get a shot at a buck.
Sid and his dad headed out the day after Thanksgiving and were joined by friends, Brandon and Tanner. They decided to give their old stomping grounds one more go-around. Shortly after the sun rose, they spotted a buck –not just any buck, either, but a great one! The stalk was on.
As they topped the ridge, Sid’s heart hit the ground. The buck had vanished and his nerves began to get the best of him. It took a few minutes, but Sid caught his breath and got his nerves under control and was now able to see where his dad was pointing. Sid set up his shooting sticks and with one shot, the 30-inch desert giant hit the dirt!
Sid and his dad took a few minutes to celebrate as only a father and son can. Within an hour, the hunting party had arrived at the house and I was amazed. My barely ten-year-old son had not only bagged his first deer, but he had bagged a true 30-inch desert mule deer. All my son could say was, “Dad said I couldn’t get it mounted unless I shot a deer bigger than both of yours, so I guess I get him mounted now, huh Mom?”
Sid received one of the best birthday presents a ten-year-old could ask for - even it was just a few days late.