The first deer a boy shoots proves the occasion of a great solemnity. If it happens to be a buck it is given to some old man; if a doe, to some old woman…. When they [the old man or woman] reach the village, they turn to the east, having the whole or part of the animal on the back, always with the skin, before entering the house and give vent to a prolonged call, which is the old man’s or old woman’s prayer to the Deity in behalf of the boy, that he may always be a fortunate hunter.David Zeisberger’s History of North American Indians, 1779-80.
When I looked forward to the 2019 whitetail season a few months back, I set one goal. One singular focus that would define the season as the ultimate success. My objective had nothing to do with a personal harvest. My mission was to introduce our 10-year-old son Brian into whitetail hunting and hopefully provide him an opportunity to harvest his first deer. Mission accomplished.
First Whitetail Deer
Saturday, October 12 the whitetail hunting experience came full circle in my family. In past years, my family has experienced Dad bringing home venison for the table. We have enjoyed many meals from those harvests and shared stories of the hunt. On October 12 things changed, someone other than myself was bringing home a deer for the table. The deer was a button buck taken at 12 yards with a crossbow that my late best friend had sold me. The old Horton has taken many whitetails, but this one was special, it was Brian’s first whitetail deer.
The hunt was over quickly with the deer arriving 30 minutes after getting into the stand. Brian stayed calm, held steady and put a perfect “ethical” shot on the deer and it only ran 40 yards before expiring.
Normally one would think that the new hunter would be the most excited, not in this case! However, I was the one who got shook up, more than I have in many seasons. I was shaking so badly that I could barely text my wife while Brian sat calmly beside me in the stand. It was surreal knowing I had met my 2019 goal.
Need For Recruitment
Bringing new hunters into the fold is an important process that must continue to gain traction. A lot has been documented about the decline in hunter participation and the impact on our outdoor future. Take the time to encourage and introduce both youth and adults to hunting and the outdoors. There are many mentoring opportunities out there to get involved with where we can pass on the hunting lifestyle to others. I found a great list of hunting mentor opportunities posted by American Hunter in March of 2019. The article contains links mentoring program information for each state. I can speak from experience that sharing time in the woods with both of our boys has been some of the most rewarding time spent afield.
My 2019 season goal was achieved and I am on to the next phase of the season. No matter how my own season turns out, October 12 will be the best day I had in the woods for the 2019 whitetail season. Anything more is just a bonus.