August/September 2013 EHJ (Issue 138) - If you are a father of young hunters, you may have had the pleasure of watching your child take a trophy animal. I was fortunate enough this year to watch two of my daughters do that in the same year on the mighty Milk River of Montana. I have been hunting all my life and dropped a couple of nice trophies. I have felt the high a hunter gets that makes you want to jump up and scream in celebration. Let me tell you, the high of shooting a trophy yourself does not compare to watching one of your children pull the trigger.
We have hunted this area for several years and it has produced some decent bucks, mainly mule deer but a few whitetails as well. I spent a few weekends archery hunting it this year and spotted two mule deer bucks that I thought would push 170. I thought those bucks would be great deer for my girls come rifle season.
My 13-year-old Madison and I hunted the area during Montana’s youth hunt. We got on a 150-class whitetail and watched him bed in the river bottom. We were able to stalk in on him to 60 yards. Madison got one shot off as the buck was heading out but it was a clean miss. I could see she was disappointed, but after talking to her and telling her that we had a lot of season ahead of us, she shrugged it off.
Lauren, her 16-year-old sister, was playing volleyball so she was limited on weekends that she would be able to hunt. But, on Sunday, Oct 28th Lauren was able to get out for the first time that season. Wayne and Aaron, two of my hunting buddies wanted to ride along and assist us.
We left the house an hour before legal shooting light; it takes 45 minutes to drive to our hunting area. I knew that the deer would be up off the river feeding in the agriculture fields for a while in the morning before dropping off in the rugged country to bed for the day. We arrived a little early and had to wait for enough light to glass.
As we scanned the fields, we could see several deer but low light was making it tough to size anything up. A few minutes went by and I heard Aaron say that we needed to go shoot a buck he had in his spotting scope a mile away. Aaron thought it had a good frame and maybe extra points. I did not even take the time to look at the deer in the scope; I knew if Aaron was excited, it was a shooter.
We looked at the lay of land and planned our stalk. The buck was on a bench above a deep ravine that we could use to our advantage to close the distance, so the four of us took off. Three inches of new snow on the ground made it slick, slowing us down some. It took about 20 minutes to get where we needed to climb back close to where the buck was feeding.
We made our way to the top only to see the big buck running away with his does. It seemed we were not the only ones hunting in the area that morning. A pickup driving by had spooked the deer. We watched the deer run to the next big drainage and disappear.
I did not have to say a word; we were all on the same page. We were going to stay on this buck all day if that’s what it took. We had a hunch that the deer would calm down as soon as they went out of sight. So, after a little break, we made the hike over to where the buck had entered the big drainage. I took some time to make sure Lauren was not winded before making our final approach.
As we peeked over the edge I spotted two does and they spotted us as well. They were getting nervous and we didn’t have much time to get Lauren set up for the shot. Lauren dropped to a sitting position with the bipod down; I ranged the buck at 198 yards.
For a full account of Lauren & Madison's adventure, go to page 22 in the August/September 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.