Got outdoor adventures planned for this fall? Take a younger person along! Tell ‘em some hunting stories, give them some good tips and keep them out of their electronic devices and you’ll have a lifetime companion!
With another hunting season just around the corner, I always try to remember and share some of my prior hunts taken over many decades of hunting. Whether it was the time I was hunting mountain lions in a cold, blustery and snowy Utah wilderness, a Colorado bow hunt for bull elk, a bull moose hunt in British Columbia, a caribou hunt in Quebec’s arctic tundra, bears in Montana or one of countless deer hunts in the lower 48, I’ve always made it a point to critique my past hunts to review what I’d done right and what mistakes I’d made. I then use this hard-earned information towards my future hunts and, of course, for the countless hunting stories I tell my grandsons! I’ve always been a storyteller of sorts either verbally or written so I try to retain anything I can for future use.
That said, I’m fortunate enough to have four young grandsons of various ages that I am training in the outdoor sports. I’ve had them all fishing since they were old enough to hold a fishing rod and they are all avid fishermen. Most of their visits to the farm include a fishing trip to a nearby creek, pond or lake and a mandatory woods deer-scouting walk where they are taught basic woodsmanship, how to make a campfire and back-woods navigation. Nature walks include finding whitetail scrapes, buck rubs, deer trails, tracking animals and finding shed antlers. and many days include practice with the bow and arrow, pellet gun or .22 rifle. Safely navigating the ATVs over fields and woods trails is also taught. I teach them about firearms safety, shooting and the outdoors and evenings are usually reserved for telling the aforementioned hunting stories.
We always have several trail cameras in our hunt area year-round and monitor the deer. We closely watch deer movement and we give each buck we get pictures of a name. The boys help me name the bucks and soon learn who is who. This helps us determine what bucks are here and which bucks we’ll hunt and watch for.
My eldest grandson, Chase, has been tagging along with me on my bow hunts for a couple years. So last September he was ready to attend his Pennsylvania Game Commission Hunter Education class and was finally ready to hunt. After lots of shooting practice and listening to my relentless hunting tips, he was ready to hunt and I bought him his junior hunting license. Setting beside me in a two-man ladder stand and holding his crossbow, he had several opportunities to harvest smaller bucks but decided to wait for an 8-point. On several occasions we’d watched a large 8-point that we’d nicknamed ‘The Stranger” running does around a couple of our stands. We never got him close enough for a bow shot and were optimistic about another encounter with him. We saw many bucks that didn’t provide an opportunity for a shot.
On one evening in particular he passed up a high-spike buck that walked 10 yards from our ladder stand. He finally took a shot at a different 8-point in early November. It was a cold, rainy and snowy morning and I’d made mention that the bucks would be moving today searching for does and that we’d have to be patient and alert for deer movement. Things can and do happen very fast in the deer woods in November and we didn’t have long to wait!
We were in the stand early and waited for daylight to arrive. Around 8 a.m. he poked me in the ribs with his elbow and anxiously pointed at a fast-moving, large-bodied deer heading for our stand. His training instinctively kicked in when he saw plenty of horns and he quietly took off the safety on the crossbow and waited for the buck to get into bow range. The buck, obviously searching for does, trotted by our stand and, just like an old professional, Chase made a loud grunting sound and the 8-point quickly stopped in a small opening, looking for the source of the noise. At the shot the arrow hit the deer in his lungs and the buck only ran about 40 yards and fell. No advice or tips needed that morning! After many pictures and congratulations, I instructed him on the proper procedures for field-dressing a deer. After a short drag to the field and a waiting tractor, we were off to the deer processor where the deer was cut, wrapped and frozen. His first buck harvest was over except for the story telling!
Having a successful deer hunt this fall isn’t going to be that difficult for any hunter, young or old. It only requires having a good stand location in good deer habitat, accuracy with your weapon of choice, time to spend hunting and, of course, some good training and learned knowledge about the species you are hunting.
If there is a moral to this story, it lies in the fact that young folks need to be introduced to the outdoor sports at any age. Whether their interests lie in fishing, boating, camping, hunting, hiking, shooting or riding four-wheelers, they’ll be in store for a lifelong experience, so try to include the younger generation in your outdoor adventures. As an added benefit, interaction with the youngsters will definitely keep us older folks moving and in good health.
Cochranton-area resident John Crooks is a longtime outdoors writer.