Down to the wire
By Mike Siewell
Feb 28 2012
“The Mentor Program” organized by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife allows a child age 9-13 to hunt with another licensed adult hunter. This program allowed my 9-year old son to shoot his first deer during the 2011 hunting season.
As we neared the end of hunting season, time was running out. I took two days off from work and pulled my son out of school with hopes that he would get a shot at a an Oregon black tail. I had saved one of my favorite areas for this purpose.
The drive out to the secret spot was silent that morning. I just kept thinking of all the days my son and I had spent in the field, and the many miles we had walked. It was the fourth quarter and we needed to score.
The rain I had hoped for came, but it was not enough to quiet down the mile and a half walk we were about to endure.
Our destination was a high ridge with a great vantage point on both sides. Just before we arrived at the familiar oak tree where we sat and scanned the open slopes with binoculars, through the hazy fog, I noticed four deer out feeding, then to my surprise, a fifth deer stepped out.
He was a giant. I grabbed my range finder and measured the distance between us and the large buck. He was out of range, and the ground was to open to stalk him without being detected. It was all I could do to keep my son under control with the big buck in our sights. I tried to explain to him why we could not shoot the deer right now, but at his young age, it was hard for him to understand.
We sat back down and stayed still for an hour giving the deer time to feed up into the canyon, so that we could maneuver and get above them.
Climbing to the next vantage point, we found a nice flat area to rest and have lunch. I took off my backpack and binoculars and proceeded to eat, my son and I trying to figure out what to do next.
I suggested we go to the last saddle and glass the canyon if we didn’t see anything, we would come back tomorrow and try for the big deer we had seen earlier in the morning.
I left my pack there for the three-hundred-yard climb to the saddle. On top of the ridge, we were hidden from the canyon. Every so often, I would scan the terrain. I did not see anything moving in the remote canyon. After about 30 minutes, I returned to my backpack.
Not looking forward to the long hike out, we were back at the lunch location. I was cleaning up when I glanced over my shoulder towards the saddle where we were just standing, and to my surprise a deer stood watching us.
I quickly picked up my binoculars and saw that it was a doe. However, I noticed movement below the doe and another deer walked into view. A few seconds, later a third appeared, and this was a good legal buck.
“Grifin, that’s your deer, “I said to my son.
We scrambled into position. I quietly slid my backpack in front of him. The few seconds that it took him to find the deer in the scope seemed like an hour. I waited for the rifle to go off. As soon as I heard the report of the rifle, I could hear the impact on the deer. It was a perfect first shot.
Walking up to the deer, we were all smiles and my emotions were at an all time high. After some hugs, high fives and photos, it was time for the hard part. It took us 45 minutes to bone out the meat and load it onto my pack frame. My son and I replayed the story over and over on our pack out and ride home.
I was very proud of him and enjoyed the opportunity that Oregon Fish and Game provided for this experience. My son is already planning his next year’s hunt with dreams of a bigger buck.
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