October/November 2013 EHJ (Issue 139) - I guess this all started when I was eight years old. My dad started taking me deer and turkey hunting. Like my sister, who is five years older than me, I took my first deer when I was eight years old. I shot a nice fat doe first and then a buck. My dad said that was how it works. Over the last several years my sister and I have managed to take a couple of really nice whitetail bucks. We live in middle Georgia and whitetail deer are plentiful.
My parents took me to my first Mule Deer Foundation convention in Salt Lake City when I was 10. That’s when I realized I wanted to hunt mule deer. Seeing all those giant mulies at the show really gave me the fever. They are much bigger than the bucks back home, not just in their body; their racks are bigger, too.
My dad has been applying for tags in most all the western states for a long time. He applies for tags for everyone in our family, but I have just become old enough to apply. The wait was like torture!
At 10 years old I applied in New Mexico and Arizona for youth tags. I want to thank those two states for letting youth have such a wonderful opportunity. Everyone in my family has drawn at least one good tag so far. Last year, I finally drew mine. I drew an Arizona youth mule deer tag and my sister drew a New Mexico mule deer tag. She had already drawn a New Mexico youth elk tag the year before.
Dad booked our hunts with Marvin James, owner of James Guide Service. My sister would hunt for elk in New Mexico first and my hunt would be the following week. Heather tagged out on the first day, killing a nice bull elk.
For my hunt, my mom was scheduled to go with me, but since Heather tagged out so early my dad was only gone for a couple of days and promised to go back with mom and me. We arrived on Friday, and the plan was to start hunting on Saturday, which was opening day. My guide for the hunt was Mike. He was very nice and told me he had seen a couple of nice bucks in the weeks before we got there.
Opening day was cold, rainy and sleeting. At home when the weather makes a big change we always see a lot more deer. My dad had been telling me I need to be prepared to sit long hours and be patient. We could glass for a very long time and not see any deer. I haven’t really developed the art of patience just yet, but I was willing to do my best.
We set up right after daylight and started glassing. The weather was rough. The wind was howling and there was fog, rain and some sleet. After about an hour, Mike spotted the two bucks he had seen a week or so before. Since I had already shot several nice whitetails, my parents and I decided I would hold out for a really good buck, not just shoot any buck. After one look through the spotting scope we all decided this deer would pass that test.
Mom stayed at the spotting scope to keep an eye on the deer while dad, Mike and I began the stalk. We walked for about an hour, stopping several times. Sometimes we stopped because we couldn’t see because of fog and sometimes we just stopped to glass and make sure the deer was still there.
For a full account of Leslie's adventure, go to page 18 in the October/November 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.