The first goal. The first hit. The first date. The first kiss. All of these are important memorable moments in one’s life. So is the first time hunting.
My daughter has worked hard and grown strong enough to pull back a bow. This may sound like that is no big deal unless you try this yourself. For a youth, pulling back 35 or more pounds means the opportunity to bow hunt legally. For my daughter, who hates the loud blast from the muzzle of a firearm, it means she finally gets to hunt.
Just prior to the season, she picked up the bow she bowfishes with. She has hit a growth spurt and I immediately noticed I needed to adjust the draw length (the distance in pulling back a bow string). Rather than tinkering with it, I grabbed the bow my oldest son uses and let her try it. I did not inform her of the draw weight (often referred to as the poundage of a bow; in North Carolina a compound bow must have a draw weight of 35 pounds or greater). She gripped the bow, grabbed the string with her right hand, and pulled back like a seasoned pro.
“Dad, how many pounds is this?”
“Let’s just say you can go hunting with me this year, Ju” I responded.
“Really?” Excitement was building in her like a teenager who had just received a text message from the cute guy in school asking her out. By the way, I need to inform all the cute guys that I am a pretty good aim, just in case there are any ideas floating about.
“Yes Ju. Forty pounds.” I could hardly finish the ‘pounds’ in the statement before she interrupted.
“FORTY! REALLY!” At this point she was kind of hopping / jumping up and down in one spot. “When do I get to go?!?”
So, in an instant, my years of tranquility with my only hunting partners consisting of the peace of nature and a few mosquitoes were history. I was about to adapt a new partner. A partner who would likely be texting, facebooking, tweeting, instagramming…maybe even doing a collage while in the stand. Girls do make collages, right?
The second weekend of the season Julianne had dance on the Friday night. At least I would get that one night in! Short story, I saw five deer. They were a little too far away but while sitting in the stand I was able to pick a tree closer to the entrance to the field where the deer were moving for a stand location.
Saturday was a little different. Julianne had dance that day as well (what else do expect from girls?) so we would be hunting together that afternoon and evening. We picked up some camo for her (she had a Batman t-shirt and blue jeans for the hunt…girls!) and headed to the field.
We were hunting from a two person ladder stand. I took her bow and quiver, as well as my small bag where I keep my hunting goodies and tied them to one end of a haul line. I had her go up first. I tossed the other end of the haul line up to her so I could get our gear up after I climbed the stand.
After settling in, I pulled our gear up. I hung my bag on a small broken limb behind us. “It sure would be nice if we had some type of hook Daddy.”
That is what my bag is for! She may have had the Batman shirt on earlier, but my hunting bag is like Batman’s utility belt. I screwed a couple of hooks into the tree, changing the location of my bag to one of the hooks and hanging the quiver of arrows on the other. Then I went over where the deer were likely to appear, what ranges different trees and patches of grass or barren ground were, and what pins to use on her sight depending on where the deer would show. I also explained to her quietly that I would hold my hand out prior to the shot and point on my hand where she would need to aim at the deer depending on its angle to us.
Then we waited.
After awhile, I asked where her iPhone was. “I left in the truck. We are hunting, so I felt like I wouldn’t need it.”
Wow! That caught me off guard. I pulled my phone out of my bag and checked the time.
A little later I checked once again. Then I checked the scores of the college football games. Then I took a picture of her in her camouflage. Then I posted it to Instagram. Then I sent a tweet about hunting with my daughter on her first hunt she could actually participate in. Then…well you get the picture.
As the sun settled behind the wood line, she became more and more nervous. We knew this was the time when the deer would show. At one point her knees were wagging back and forth like a puppy’s tail after getting hold of a ball covered in peanut butter. I asked if she was worried. “Only about hitting the right spot. I want it to be a clean shot.”
Wow! Yet another good answer.
I checked the time again. I scanned the wood line. I explained to her to look for movement not colors. But they just would not show. We tied everything off on the haul line and lowered the gear and exited the stand. We walked back to the truck and put the things away. We were staying there overnight (it is my in-laws property and home) so we went inside to a fresh hot meal that was waiting for us.
“How was the hunt Julianne?” my mother-in-law asked her.
“It was fun even though we didn’t see anything. But you know Daddy, he was texting and tweeting and taking pictures the whole time!”
Wow! Didn’t see that one coming!