A Boy’s First Buck
Subject: A Boy’s First Buck — my sore back never felt so good
To read a well-written, bittersweet article that talks of Truett’s first buck, which ran in the Register Guard, click on the link below —
Odds weren’t looking real good for Truett, 13, to tag his first buck on
the last weekend of Oregon deer season. Firstly, our weekend was cut
to one day, Saturday, as I was headed back to PA to hunt whitetail with UA’s
Kip Fulks (Sunday) the deer season’s last day. So, we had one day to make Truett, my youngest son, a memory he’ll never forget. My oldest, Tanner, who is 17 now would
be playing an integral part in the hunt by capturing everything on film.
Here is how it went down —
Friday night Tanner played a must-win football playoff game in Siletz (they
won 60-22 and made the State Playoffs), which is two hours away. BTW,
Tanner played well on the heels of his Springfield Times “Athlete of the
Week” award for last week’s two touchdown performance. No TDs this week
but he played had a solid game defensively. Real proud of him.
Driving home from the game Friday, we got in late finally heading to bed at
1:00 a.m. and since I wanted to head to the same southwestern Oregon
country where I killed my big Roosevelt bull this season to try and find a
buck for Truett we would need to get up at 4:00 a.m. to start the 2.5 hour
drive south from home here in Eugene. The boys were already tired after a
long week of football so the thought of having only three hours of sleep
before hunting hard for a full day wasn’t real appealing for either.
Don’t get me wrong, they enjoy hunting. Actually, they enjoy being
successful. All the stuff in between the success, the walking for hours,
being wet, cold, and in this case really tired….not so much. And, as
such, on the way home from the game they were grumbling a little about
having to get up so early giving me the ol’, “Dad, can’t we just sleep in?
We probably aren’t going to get anything anyway. And, “We are going to miss
the Duck game.” To which I said, with all the heartfelt compassion I could
muster, “I don’t care what you say, how much you cry, complain, or
beg…there is not one word or string of words you can say and absolutely
nothing you can do that is going to change the fact we are going hunting in
the morning.” So, that was settled.
Of course I didn’t tell them this, but I wanted to sleep in too. It’s been a
real long season and some might wonder, if Truett didn’t care if he killed
a buck, why should I? Good question. Well, I know how powerful a boy’s
first buck kill is. Especially, after his tough run of luck last year,
having blown it on a good buck and ending the season as a first time deer
hunter with his tag in his pocket. He’s killed black bear in AK and here in
Oregon, but getting a first buck is an important step to becoming a man.
And, like all of us who love the hunt and the challenge of the journey,
many times sucking it up is the name of the game in hunting. If Truett was
to tag a buck, his first ever, years down the road not a one of us would
remember on his special day that we were tired and only got a few hours of
sleep. For me, it was about looking at the big picture.
Like I told em’, yeah we might not get a buck but you don’t know if you
don’t go. We would give it all we had. And, we did. Turns out the killing
part didn’t take that much.
I powered down a 5 Hour Energy for the long drive as the boys slept.
Getting down into deer country right at first light we were in business.
First logging unit we glassed, I didn’t see anything. But Truett did. He
said, “Dad, I just saw one.” I didn’t believe him. He didn’t even have
binos and I was tearing apart the unit with my Nikons. And, he said he saw
it about 150 yards away. No way I thought. He said, “Dad, I swear I saw
one.” He could tell I was skeptical and told him, “Truett I have been
glassing that down there and there’s nothing.” “Dad, I am not crazy. I
promise I saw something,” he assured me.
We headed to the other side of the unit to look back up into where he
thought he saw the deer and sure as anything there was a big ol’ buck
standing there. The little dude was on his buck spotting game it seems. I
quickly got him set up with a good rest and threw up my rangefinder as
Tanner set up the camera. I told him to get settled in on that buck as I
bounced my laser off him to see how far it was. It looked like a long ways,
and it was…289 yards. Dang. I whispered, “I don’t know Truett, that is a
long shot on a deer. How does it feel?” “Dad, it feels perfect. Solid. I
know I can kill him”, he pleaded. Looking up at me, he had a look of
desperation in his eyes. Hmmm, it seems he did care if he killed a buck. I
know that feeling. He is a shooter and the gun is a tack driver so I told
him to put those crosshairs on the top of the buck’s shoulders and really
think about making a slow, steady squeeze on that trigger. But not to do it
until I gave the word. I gave him a few seconds and asked if he as ready.
He said, “Yes, Dad, I got it perfect on the top of his back, straight up
his leg.” I gave some final instructions, “Alight then, breathe out and
squeeze. Watch the bullet hit through the scope if you can buddy.”
Truett hammered him. He was using a Remington .280 that his Grandpa Larry
won at RMEF Elk Camp, same gun Tanner used on his first bull, and hit him
real hard. Tanner filmed as the buck crashed down the hill, stumbled and
rolled to the bottom.
It was a relatively quick hunt, which I suppose makes up for all the day
long death marches we’ve done looking for his first buck the last couple of
years. You take them when you can get them right?
Sitting here writing this, my back is real tight and shoulders ache. When I
stand up, I can’t stand up straight for about 10 steps and you know what? I
wouldn’t change this pain or the vivid memory of the burn I had in my legs
while hauling Truett’s buck out of the bottom of that unit yesterday for
all the money in the world.
Looking at the photo of Truett with his first buck, that million dollar
smile and his RMEF hat tipped back is as good as it gets. The sleep thing?
They are catching up on that right now…they earned it. Good work boys.
Lastly, special thanks to Ron Hofsess for allowing us access to some awesome coastal blacktail country, outside of the small town of Powers, Oregon. And thanks to Wanda’s restaurant there in Powers for the great food and friendly atmosphere. For an incredible elk, deer, bear or turkey hunt, I’d recommend contacting Ron at firstname.lastname@example.org