The first weekend of the New Year, I headed back to my friends' place in Mississippi where I harvested a dandy nine-pointer just two weeks before (read that story here). This time, I took my dad, sister, brother-in-law, and most special of all, my eight-year-old nephew, Bishop. Bishop asked if I would take him on his first deer hunt. Of course, I couldn't wait to get him into a box stand and try to keep his attention long enough to see some deer. The challenge was to see if he would enjoy sitting and waiting, as he wasn’t ready to shoot a large enough caliber for whitetails. I didn’t want the heavy recoil of a rifle to ruin any future hunting my little buddy may want to pursue.
Bishop made it two and a half hours into the first afternoon before he'd had enough. Still, that time consisted of no video games, giving us the time to talk and enjoy each other without distraction. With no luck that evening, I made my way back to camp for our typical night of fried backstrap and fun with the crew. Bishop decided a few extra hours of sleep sounded better than a predawn wake-up call, but I'm not one to miss a morning in the woods, especially when there's an opportunity to help out the herd. Whether filling a doe tag or harvesting a cull buck, doing my part to help actively manage property capable of growing potential trophy whitetails is something I take pride in. I woke my dad and we made our way out to our different stands.
I dropped him off in a box blind he hadn't yet hunted. With strong rutting activity the week before, I felt he might have an opportunity to shoot a nice buck that had been frequenting the area. I elected to go back to the same tripod that had proven successful two weeks prior.
Early on, a young buck stepped into the food plot at about 30 yards. In case a doe or cull stepped within range, I had my custom, built-for-hunting Lone Wolf Distributors Glock .40 SUPER with me. This was within "chip shot" range, but he didn't fit the "shootable" criteria. Though disappointed would have been an understatement, I knew this main travel corridor would produce another opportunity.
A couple days prior to arriving at camp, my buddy saw a buck with a unique, mangled rack and injured front right leg. He told us if we saw him, he was fair game. I hoped he would cross paths with my dad or one of Steve's daughters or their boyfriends.
About an hour after the young buck came and went, a deer emerged from the pines a shade over 200 yards out. I knew he couldn't see me, but something grabbed his attention just long enough for me to get him in the scope of the .300 WSM I had brought for longer shot opportunities. The instant he started to move I saw his busted up leg and odd antlers. I squeezed the trigger and he dropped in his tracks.
I waited a few minutes before retrieving my cull buck. I've seen some unique racks in my hunting time, but this one was different. Wild, twisted, and thick. The bases of his antlers wound up measuring 6 1/8" on the right side and 5 3/8" on the left. He was a six point with great character, and I was very happy to have taken such a unique buck.
I made my way back to camp to get some help loading up my buck. I wanted to bring Bishop along on his first 'recovery' of a whitetail. After I got done cleaning him up, I cut out his jawbone so that we could get him aged properly. He was definitely a mature whitetail. He had a rusty top on his head and a round roman nose. His teeth were black and worn, but seemed to be in pretty prime condition. After sending some photos of the jawbone to a Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife biologist friend of mine, it was determined that the buck was five and a half to six and a half years old.
It was a memorable weekend with Bishop, my dad, my sister, my brother-in-law, and my buddy Steve. Though I usually enjoy heading into the timber alone, this weekend meant more because I got to spend it with my family. I hope I was able to influence Bishop to want to come back into the woods with me next season.