In an effort to reduce deer densities in certain parts of the state, Nebraska instituted an early October antlerless whitetail season last year. Mattie was able to take a deer on the first evening out during that first season . This year, once again, Mattie wanted to hunt this early season. She enjoys hunting on these warm October days.
Today after church we pulled the .243 out of the cabinet and went out to a friend’s pasture to verify that the scope was still set and that Mattie new how to handle the gun. After a quick review of the gun I handed it to her along with a cartridge. She carefully loaded the gun and ensured that the safety was in the on position. I held the sticks as she familiarized herself with the scope. Once she was ready, she moved the safety to the off position and carefully squeezed off her first shot. After seeing dirt fly behind the target I thought she had missed and was concerned that the scope might have been knocked out of line. I took a shot at the target myself and then went up to look and discovered two holes about an inch apart. Mattie had actually made a great shot. After a few more solid hits we decided that she was ready for our first evening in the blind this year.
After watching the Lions amazing win over the Cowboys we headed for the river. I had placed a ground blind on the alfalfa field yesterday in anticipation of Mattie’s hunt. The blind was located on a fence line on the edge of an alfalfa field. Across the fence is a standing corn field. The deer have been entering the alfalfa field about an hour before dark. If they kept the same pattern, they should enter the field about 20 yards to the north of the blind giving Mattie an easy shot. As we arrived, I knew the wind was completely wrong. I moved the blind about 50 yards north in order to get downwind and we settled into the blind together. We were soon discouraged to see the neighbor drive in on his side of the fence only 30 yards from us. Later, right at sunset, he drove out. The sun had set and yet no deer had entered the field. I told Mattie to stay alert as a deer could step out at any moment.
A few minutes later I turned around to see a deer enter the field about 100 yards west of us. I grabbed the shooting sticks and Mattie prepared for a possible shot. We watched the deer for a few moments and after some discussion decided that Mattie would shoot this deer. I ranged the deer at 82 yards and gave Mattie the green light to shoot whenever she felt comfortable. Soon the deer turned slightly quartering away and Mattie pulled the trigger. At the shot the deer jumped and ran about 20 yards before coming to a stop. As we both watched intently the deer fell over right there on the field in front of us. After a few high fives, Mattie grabbed her phone and began texting her big brothers and grandfather.
I love spending time with my kids. These are times that won’t last long. Mattie is 12 now. Before, I know it she will be graduating high school and moving on to college. We don’t talk much in the blind. But being together on these warm October afternoons is priceless. It is so easy to get wrapped up in our pursuit of that whitetail trophy we can sometimes forget the real trophy is simply time spent together. Harvesting a deer is an added bonus of course. It’s bed time. I am getting up at 5 am with Sam and Jesse so we can head south with our bows. They have a day off from school tomorrow and there is nowhere we would rather be than in the deer woods together.