First Buck

By Kyle Renzelman
Colorado, 2009, DIY, Public Land
First BuckApr/May 2011 EHJ (Issue 124) - As I settled my crosshairs on the biggest buck of my life, a thought came to me. My 15-year-old son, Kyle, was sitting behind me and had never shot a buck before. I looked at him and could see the excitement and anticipation in his face...

I had been watching a few bucks throughout the summer and archery season, just hoping they would be in the vicinity when our rifle season opened. Days before the opener, I had three nice bucks spotted and a plan on how we were going to get to them come opening day. As luck would have it, someone moved a camp right into that basin and pushed them to another area. Not knowing where they had gone, I glassed as much of the area as I could, but with no sign of them, I was starting to get concerned.

On opening morning, we got to the trailhead and there were seven vehicles parked there – not exactly the welcome greeting I was hoping for. I decided to head for a vantage point, hoping that most of these hunters wouldn’t go that far. I was correct; we never saw another hunter on our way out.

We arrived at “the point” just as shooting light appeared and started glassing. Our first look turned up a big buck out feeding on an open hillside 250 yards away. I told Kyle that we needed to get a better look and set up for a shot, so I grabbed my pack and set it up a rest and started glassing to determine how big he was.

As soon as he turned his head and I saw his front forks, I knew he was a shooter. He was quartering away, though, so I waited for him to turn broadside. That’s when the thought came across my mind about Kyle. It didn’t take me long to figure out what I wanted. “Kyle, do you think you can make this shot?”

His face lit up with a huge smile and he said, “Yeah, I think so!” With that, we maneuvered around and got him set up.

Just as he got situated, I accidentally kicked a rock and the buck had us pegged. I quickly told Kyle it was 250 yards, to put the first circle on the scope right behind his shoulder, and take his time for a good shot. Meanwhile, I was thinking to myself that this was an awesome buck and please don’t miss!

He squeezed and I heard a click. He had forgotten to chamber a shell. I told him, “Don’t worry, just put one in and take your time.’

Luckily the buck had gone back to feeding; I was just hoping the pressure wasn’t getting to Kyle. This time he settled in and dropped the buck in his tracks.

It was by far the happiest and proudest moment in my 26 years of hunting. You would have thought I was the kid when I started dancing, celebrating, and hugging my son. To see the smile on his face made me the proudest father on Earth that day. We had just made memories that would last us a lifetime and beyond.

Kyle Renzelman