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Of Nine Year Olds And Nine Pointers

The day before we had arrived at the ranch in Harper, Texas around noon. We ate lunch and around 3 pm we headed out to the deer blind. The deer population in the Texas hill country is exploding. In the 2 to 3 hours we were at the blind we saw at least thirty deer.

Most were does but there were a few bucks there worth a second look through the binoculars. When one nice looking eight pointer ambled by I told Jason to get ready for a shot. It's not easy for a grown man to sit still when a big buck walks by let alone a nine year old on his first hunt. Jason held up his gun and aimed, waiting for the perfect shot, for what I'm sure felt like an eternity. Finally he pull the trigger and let off a shot.

When we looked to see the result we found that Jason got himself a tree instead of that nice eight pointer. He was disappointed and I'm sure it fueled his anxeity about getting his first deer. I consoled him and told him about the many times I missed a deer, more than I'd like to say. I reminded him that this was only the first day and that we would be here for four more days.Dusk comes pretty early out there in the woods in November it seems so we packed up our gear and headed back to the ranch house to talk about the disappointment of the one that got away and to dream about the even bigger one we hoped to see tomorrow. After a nice dinner and a few hours sitting around the fire pit gazing at the billions of stars you can see out there so far away form the city lights we headed off to bed to get an early start on the hunt in the morning.

I almost didn't want to wake my sleeping boy up because I figured he probably didn't sleep much at all. I figured he spent the night seeing that eight pointer running away from him in his dreams. As I watched him eat his cereal I was thinking about how much he'd grown in the last few years. It didn't seem to long ago that he came into this world. I started replaying scenes in my mind of him first learning to walk.

His first words were "Da Da" I'm proud to say. I still remember his first homerun in little league baseball. I had to fight back a tear as I saw his beaming face flush with the realization as he rounded third that he was going to make it all the way to home plate.Well I couldn't be more proud of him as he donned his camoflage hunting gear and went over the rules of handling a gun just like I showed him. As we left the ranch house early that Friday morning, the day was filled with hope and anticipation. Jason was tired but excited at the prospect of finally getting his first deer.

It was hard for him to keep quiet so that Mom, sis, Grandpa and Grammie could sleep. We headed outside, hopped on the four-wheeler and headed back out to the blind. When we reached our destination we fumbled through the dark, got into the blind, got settled, and waited for first light.Having been through this many times I know what my son was experiencing. The hardest thing for any hunter to do is to sit still in a blind until dawn.

To make the time go faster I whispered to my son about my first hunting experiences. He's heard it many times before but he never seems to get tired of them. In a short time it was dawn.

The hill country is a fantastic place to hunt deer for many reasons. The shear number of number of deer is one them. It also is one of the prettiest places you'll ever visit. We had seen blury shapes of animals outside the blind in the pre-dawn hour and when it was finaly light enough to see, mother nature in all her morning glory never looked more beautiful. Out in front of us there must have been ten or eleven deer. All of them does and small deer.

It's stunning to see wild animals in their natural habit. It's nothing like seeing animals in the zoo or a park where they are so used to seeing humans walking around. It is really an awsome sight and one that I appreciate more every year.We sat there for and hour or so just watching the deer come and go between the safety of the woods out into the clearing and back again.

At one point we saw two button bucks butting heads with each other like two teenage boys wrestling in the yard. Just then from the woods came a large buck. I peered at him through the binoculars.

"Jason, that's at least a nine pointer"! I said as I looked for the tenth point on his antlers. "Get ready son, this is a good one." Jason, nervously pulled his rifle up, and stuck it out through the blind window. "Wait till you get a good view of him now". The morning dew and the heat of my breath was starting to fog up my binoculars. I wanted to be sure and see all the action in this momentous occasion so I pulled the binoculars down and started to clean them with the end of my shirt.

I wiped the lense and quickly brought the binoculars back up and started to search for the deer but before I could focus on the big buck Jason 's rifle rang out. I pulled the binoculars away and looked at Jason. "I did it Dad! I got my first deer!" I looked out to were the deer was and could only see a bunch of white tails taking off into the woods. "I know I got him Dad. I got my first deer!" I pulled up the binoculars and searched the ground.

I couldn't see anything but scrub brush and cactus. "Are you sure, I don't see anything son." Jason was adamant that the deer went down. We waited a few minutes. I'm sure to Jason it seemed like hours, then I said "You wait here and I'll go check.

" I grabbed my rifle and headed out towards where the deer was last seen. As I walked and searched I was hoping I wouldn't have to tell my son another one got away. I had to walk right up the spot but low and behold laying behind a big cactus mound was my son's first deer. He indeed was a nine pointer. I turned back to the blind and motioned for my son to come out.

When he came out I hollered over, "You got him Jay!" Jason jumped into the air screaming "I did it!' and caming running after me.We took the deer back to the ranch house. The hunting trip was over but we were still staying a few more days. As I watched my son run around and play with his sister. He was his same happy go lucky self with more energy then you could imagine but I also noticed a slight difference.

I could tell he was basking in the glow of his accomplishment. You can see he felt he climbed what was for him, an important rung on the ladder to being a man. I do thank God for my precious son. For allowing me to be in that blind with him and being there when he took that step. It's been a year since that first hunt but he never seems to get tired of asking me what was my biggest buck. I smile and tell him, "an eight pointer Jay, what was yours?", I asking having only heard it 100 times.

"A nine pointer Dad, remember'?" "I sure do Jay!".

.Dan Holland is co-editor of SouthwestSportsman.com, a website covering outdoor adventure in the great American southwest. You can view the original article here - Of Nine Year Olds And Nine Pointers.

By: Dan Holland


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