Thank you for another great year hunting with The Association. I think that this is about my eighth year of membership, and it seems that each year is a better experience than the last.
Two years ago, I took my 12 year old daughter Cathryn with me to [location deleted] to archery hunt spring turkeys. We did not kill a bird, but it was a fun trip for both of us, and it was an opportunity for her to see a different part of America. Since we had such a good time, we decided that this year we would let her skip a week of school, and we would travel to [location deleted] for the first five days of firearms deer season. Cathryn is now 14, and has archery hunted with me at home in Pennsylvania, but she had not yet been successful in harvesting a deer.
We drove out early, set up several ground blinds, and then did a state capitol museum tour the day before the season opener. Our plan was kind of the reverse of what one would normally expect, in that we wanted to each shoot the first doe that we saw, get them to the processor, and then transition to antlered deer hunting. Cathryn shot her doe at 8:30 with one shot at about 80 yards. I attempted to shoot a doe a few minutes later, but that didn't work very well since I had forgotten to load my rifle. During the afternoon of the first day we saw several bucks, but all were younger deer, and we figured that we'd just wait and see what we saw later in the week.
Day two was a good day. We saw lots of deer, over 40 turkeys, and had a great day in the woods. None of the bucks, however, were shooters.
Day three was another good day. Late afternoon was particularly exciting. We had a really good buck chase a doe through a picked cornfield at last light. The deer blew past us so fast that neither of us was able to shoulder our rifle, but it was nevertheless very exciting.
Day four was a mixture of what should have been success and a valuable lesson learned. A nice tall 8 point presented a standing broadside shot at about 60 yards. Cathryn shot, hit the deer, and knocked it down. As it tried to stand, she shot it again, and knocked it down a second time. It stayed down, and we thought that we were successful. She was excited, and I am kind of paranoid about safety while hunting with children, so I had her unload her rifle. Unfortunately, about 30 seconds later, what we thought was a dead deer proceeded to jump up and run over a small rise out of sight. We followed the blood trail for about 150 yards until it disappeared. We then spent the remainder of the day searching everywhere we thought that the deer could possibly have gone. Much thanks to fellow MAHA members David, Jason, and Shawn who sacrificed their hunting time to help us look for her first buck. I searched again several days later, but the deer was never found. Obviously, the lesson learned is to make sure the deer is dead before you clear your weapon.
On day five, Cathryn flew home from the Kansas City Airport, and I returned to the field to hunt four more days. I saw lots of deer, and so many turkeys that I lost count. I did not, however, see a buck that I was happy to shoot. Still, it was a great week in the woods. My youngest is only 7, so I figure that I have at least 11 more years of a built in MAHA hunting buddy, and I'm looking forward to every single one.
Shawn and everyone else are just excellent with reservations. Since weather conditions are so important to what lease is accessible and what will hunt well, I've gotten into a routine to call each day at noon to reserve a lease for the current afternoon, and a different lease for the following morning. The lease that we requested was always available, and you guys are so professional. Thank you for your great service.