As my daughter and I headed into the high country for opening weekend in 2011, I felt a familiar excitement, having hunted the same area some 30 years ago for the first time.  It had been nearly 15 years since I had hunted this Northeastern California zone, and now it was time for my daughter, Hollianne, to experience it for the first time.

Having monitored a trail camera over the summer months, confidence was high that I could get Holli on a shooter.  There were 3 to 4 legal bucks using the trails under Holli’s tree stand on a regular basis.  I also had put in a trail cam 2 weeks earlier, way up in a mountain spring, and we headed up the evening before opening morning to retrieve the card.

The trail camera results were disappointing on both sites; the mountain spring cam was ripped off the tree by a bear, and I had 1300 pictures of blue sky and tree leaves.  The cam in Holli’s spot had dead batteries… images!

After 2 days in 2 different tree stands, we were getting a little discouraged.  I had been wiping the tracks clean on the trails, and finally determined that the deer had gone nocturnal.  Our only option was to spot and stalk, which is very tough in hot, dry timber country.


Hollianne goes into "stealth mode" (photo by Jeff Ervin)


We finally had a bit of luck on our third morning, spotting a nice young forkhorn buck off the Forest Service Road, about a mile from Holli’s stand.  Using a deer decoy as a shield, I was able to get her within 30 yards for her first shot;  this ended up with her arrow stuck in a tree about 6 inches over the deer and behind it.  The deer took off, and she immediately started running at an angle in an attempt to head it off.   The buck stopped again at the top of the ridge, and she missed her second shot at around 40 yards.

As she started after the buck again, she noticed her bow quiver had broken off.  She came running back to me, and handed me the quiver.  Luckily I had some duct tape, and I rapidly taped the quiver on the bow.  She took off again in the direction the buck had gone.

This time, she was gone for almost an hour and a half.  I started to get a little nervous, thinking she might get a little too far out into the Forest to find her way back.   She eventually returned, and told me the story.

Apparently, she was able to locate the buck, and she shadowed him, and finally watched him  bed down.  She was able to sneak within 20 yards, and just when she was ready to seal the deal on the forkhorn, a doe busted her.  The buck came up just as she shot, resulting in a third miss.

The buck and doe then joined up with a bigger buck, and she was able to follow the group for another 30 minutes or so, until she finally lost sight of the bucks.

There is something awesome about watching a kid go into predator mode, especially when it is your own child.  The primitive instincts kick in, and the excitement and the rush they are feeling becomes very obvious when you watch them move, catlike, toward their intended prey.

We did not fill a deer tag in 2011, but I did get to watch my daughter truly become a hunter.

Filed under: Hunting

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!