Every great hunt requires proper planning and a little bit of luck, but we were blessed with the ultimate experience of a lifetime during the weekend of the Missouri November youth hunt when my Dad took my 11-year-old sister, Erica, and me, 13-year-old Katrina, on a most improbable hunt.
It was the morning of November 5, 2011, the first day of youth hunt in Missouri. Our dad's alarm went off early, but he didn't get up; so we ran in and woke him up. He asked us if we had any dreams about the huge bucks that we hoped to get. We said that we did not have any dreams, as we were so excited about getting the opportunity to hunt. Before going out on this youth hunt, Erica agreed to let me shoot at the first buck opportunity even though she has never harvested a deer. I had harvested my first deer when I was 11 years old, and my hope was to harvest my first buck this year. If a doe came in, Erica would get the opportunity to shoot it.
We arrived out to the stand at around 6:40 a.m., but we weren't allowed to shoot until 7:00 a.m. We got settled into our deer stand that we call the “Lower Taj Mahal" and waited patiently. This stand is freestanding and is big enough for all three of us. The stand is located on a wooded hillside between two draws. Erica was responsible for watching the draw to the east, and Dad was watching the draw to the west. About 80 yards to the east of the stand is a small creek with a bank that is approximately 6 feet high. Located due south of the stand is a flat area of woods that I was responsible for observing. At about 7:20 a.m., I saw two does in the flat area approximately 60 yards from the stand, walking briskly in to us and traveling from east to west. The does had come in on my side of the stand, so I had to switch chairs with Erica. They never stopped walking, so Erica couldn't get a shot at either one of them. She gave my seat back to me, and we waited to see if more deer would travel past our stand. At about 7:40 a.m. a deer came in, and my Dad spotted it. He thought it was a doe, so I started getting up, but then I realized it was a buck. I stayed in my seat, and Dad handed me the Savage bolt-action .223. Dad grunted to get him to stop, and I said, “I'm on him."
Dad said, “Then shoot him!" I shot him just as he started moving again. I was worried I had missed him, but then I saw him drop about 20 yards from where I shot him. I shouted, “It's down, it's down!" I was so excited, as I had harvested my first buck!
Since my deer was within view, my Dad said that we should wait a while so that Erica could get an opportunity to get her first deer. Sure enough, at 7:50 a.m., I spotted another buck. All four deer had come out on my side of the stand, so I quickly switched seats with Erica, and Dad handed her the gun. Dad grunted, and the buck stopped for a long time. Erica said, “I shot twice, Dad, and it won't go." Dad looked down and saw that the gun was still partially on safety, so he quickly took it off safety. By now, the buck had walked a little farther and was behind a tree. Erica was concerned because she could not get the deer in her sight.
Dad said, “Erica, it's fine. The buck will move again." Sure enough, the buck moved, Dad grunted again and the buck stopped. Dad said, “Shoot when you are ready." Erica shot. We watched the buck, and Erica and I saw it drop about 30 yards away! My dad did not see it drop, but Erica and I kept saying, “It's down. It's down." Erica had just gotten her first deer. We packed up our stuff and headed over to where we had seen both of them go down. They had dropped within 10 yards of each other!
We took several photos and field-dressed both deer before we realized that this was the hunt of a lifetime. It is difficult enough to get that first buck, but to achieve that goal along with my sister, Erica, achieving that same goal as well is truly a blessing. My hunting time with Dad and Erica was awesome, and this double buck hunt will remain with us forever.