Another hunter is born
Oregon has a ton of opportunities for youth hunters, from youth hunt days and youth tags to a mentor program for kids too young to draw their own tag.
The mentor program allows a youth between the ages of 9 and 11 to hunt big game with an adults tag. Essentially, it allows a youth to get a jump-start in hunting, instead of waiting until he or she is 12 and buying a regular tag of their own.
This deer season would be the second time Mason and I had participated in the program. I was lucky enough to draw a Catherine Creek mule deer buck tag, but was giving it to him. He would get to be the shooter.
I picked him up from school Friday, Oct. 2, and we headed east with my dad. It was the day before the season opened.
After little sleep we woke a very rainy and windy morning. It was good hunting weather, we hoped.
Mason and I would be hiking up a large brush-choked draw for our morning hunt, leaving my dad on a stand. We slowly stalked up the hillside, stopping frequently to glass. We just knew there had to be deer in there. And soon our theory proved correct as a nice buck stepped out of the brush and stood broadside at only 40 yards. I had seen the deer coming and, not knowing if it was a buck, I had taken a knee and put the rifle on the shooting sticks. I looked back and Mason had his ears plugged in anticipation of me shooting.
As silent as I could, I motioned him forward to take the shot. The buck began to slowly walk as the rifle boomed.
Quickly, the buck vacated the area, a clean miss.
I think I was more disappointed than he was. I badly wanted it to happen perfectly.
We finished the morning hunt without seeing another buck. That afternoon, my uncle took Mason out to work with him with a scoped pellet gun. We found the problem: He was lifting his head out of the scope to watch the hit.
Problem fixed, and fresh instructions in mind, we headed for an evening stand on the edge of an agricultural field. We set up on a little rise in some tall grass between two fields. It didnt take long for a few deer to appear.
I couldnt spot a single antler in the bunch they were way out of range for the youngster anyhow but we enjoyed watching them.
Then, out of seemingly nowhere, two deer appeared behind us. One had antlers.
We were in business.
As the deer slowly fed out front, I got the rifle set up on the shooting sticks and Mason got in behind it. At that moment there was no clear shot, but I told him to get ready as I could see a safe shot would soon appear. As I quietly whispered instructions, I was also glassing the deer. I noticed the buck appeared to have only one antler and I relayed this to Mason.
Upon hearing this, he excitedly exclaimed, An Eliot!
The reference was to the star character deer in the movie Open Season.
He also added that, yes, he would love to try for this buck.
I continually asked him about his sight picture and reminded him to relax and take his time. Its just like shooting a can, I told him.
With my hand shielding the setting sun from the scope, I told him to go ahead when he was ready.
Just as the buck dropped his head, Mason fired. We were immediately rewarded with the thwack sound of a good hit. The buck ran a little ways and then went down in some tall grass. The little .243 had done its job nicely.
After a cautious approach, we found the downed deer and said a little prayer, thankful for a our bounty. We then then hit some high fives and chattered excitedly.
We took a ton of pictures before the work began.
I believe its safe to say another hunter was born that day. Mason is already talking about the fact he gets to put in for a regular tag next year, which means that I get to use my tag again at least until his little brother turns 9.
Marty Liesegang is the owner of Jackpot Market in Scappoose. He contributes an occasional outdoor column.
Marty Liesegang is the owner of Jackpot Grocery in Scappoose. He contributes an occasional outdoor column to the Spotlight.