Many of you may remember some of my past posts where I have shared with you my sons hunting stories. I posted write ups of our hunts in 2009 and 2010, so now It’s time for 2011. I am so thankful that I have material worthy of a post each year…. My hope is that we can continue this until he is old enough to post a write up of how he helped his old man bag a moose.
I can not begin to tell you how blessed I am to have enjoyed this time in the field raising young hunters. I do not post my hunt stories here, but feel it is important to share stories involving kiddos to encourage other parents to involve them. Not every kid is the same and they are all ready at different ages, it is up to you to decide what they are ready for and when, but if you do not teach them the tradition, who will?
The key to new hunters is patience and not pressure. You can take the fun out of it and ruin a kid when they feel pressure to win your approval. This is very difficult when you work so hard to get them in position for a shot and they can not or do not take it. We’ll get the next one is the attitude I have to take and it has worked out for me. Unfortunately I had to learn this attitude after botching a few hunts with my wife, but that’s a different story.
This year my younger son, who is 10, joined us for a moose and caribou hunt. For reasons stated above, he was not quite where is older brother was at the same age, and that’s perfectly ok. I was able to put him in several situations to shoot and he just wasn’t ready to connect. He was upset with himself, but I was not. He learned valuable lessons and we laid the foundation for future success. His day will come soon enough.
My oldest boy who is now 12 is well on his way to be a better hunter than I am. Over the past 3 years he has proven to be a rock solid hunting partner who is up for anything I may put him through. He is a capable little hunting buddy and is able to make the shot when the time comes.
Here is the recap of our 2011 season together where my son took his 4th 5th and 6th big game animals:
September began the same as in previous years. The main difference for my boys and I was this year we were fortunate enough to have any bull tags for our hunting area in our pockets. The journey to camp went as usual and we began to set up camp a little later in the day than I like.
Similar to last year, as we set up camp a bull and two cows fed out behind camp and started to work their way out into a known feeding area. My son wanted to shoot the bull, but I told him we do not shoot until camp is established.
The next morning I was the first out of the tent. I wanted to do a little glassing before everyone else got up for the morning hunt. I was met with disappointment as I found that the previous days’ heat had caused a thick ground fog that would make hunting or glassing impossible. I tried glassing for a while and I had a pretty good idea where the bull and two cows from last night would be if I could just see them. After a while, and for a brief moment, the fog lifted in the exact spot that I needed to see and there was a moose in it. I wasn’t sure if it was a bull or cow, but it was enough to get me headed that way.
I went in the tent and awoke the boys and told them were going after a moose so lets get going. Once the boys were ready to go, I made a plan to use the fog to our advantage by concealing us during a roughly one mile hike to where I believed the moose would cross, to return to their bedding area.
The hike went quick and soon we were where I wanted to be. The fog was still upon us. There was a creek between where we waited and where I last saw the moose so my plan was to ambush the bull on our side of the creek and let my 10 year old boy shoot him. After a few moments of sitting quietly I started to see a moose working its way to us. It turned out to be a cow and calf; they crossed the creek and gave us a broadside 80yd look at them. This is perfect I thought to myself, as I just knew the bull was somewhere right behind. If he crossed in the same path, we had him! 15 minutes went by and no bull, but the fog had now started to lift and I was able to see a ways. I lifted my binoculars and there was the bull! He was about 600 yds out and looking right at us….We are busted, I thought!
I watched the bull for a while and determined he still had two cows with him, now if he would just cross the creek like I needed him to. There were a few tense moments as I prepared the boys for a possible shot. If the bull came to us the younger boy was to shoot anything else was left to be determined. I knew the younger son could not shoot unless it was perfect. During these moments, and I love this about my boys, they kept saying “Dad, he’s big….you shoot him”. “Calm down” I said, “Let’s just wait and see what happens, one of you is going to shoot this moose”. We observed the bull for a while and it was getting obvious that he was getting nervous. He kept trying to round up his cows and move out. I knew we didn’t have long to make a move. I looked at my oldest boy and said “Ok this ones yours, but if you want him, were going to have to get wet and cross the creek”...... “Let’s go” he replied.
From our lookout I scoped the creek and found the best place to cross. We worked our way down to the creek and got across. There I took a brief moment to coach my son on what would soon transpire. “We are not going to see him again until it’s time to shoot”. “You need to stay ready and to my right the whole time”. “You are only going to get one shot….Make it count”. To my younger boy I said, “Stay behind us, no matter what” They both agreed and we were off.
We had about 400 yards of thick alder and dried up river bed to close the gap. We snuck along until I felt we were close. I stood up to look and there stands the bull at about 80yds. He saw me and broke to our left. We paralleled him and I let out a cow call, he stopped in his tracks. “Got em?” I said to my son. “Nope.” he replied as the bull spun and broke to our right. He was bouncing back and forth between the cows and this is the only reason he stuck around so long. Again we paralleled him to the right and again I stopped him with a cow call. This time he stopped broadside, 80yds, and he was exposed head to tail from the alders. “Got em?” I asked. “Yep” he replied. “Shoot!” I said. “Now?” he asked. “Yes now!” The little .308 shooting 180 grain NP roared, the moose took two steps and disappeared from sight. Suddenly all was quiet.
My next memory is looking over my right shoulder at my son. He stared back at me with sort of a cock eyed grimacing look. “What?” I asked. “Uh, I don’t know about that shot dad, I think I missed.” He replied.
Now here is where reality and hindsight memories clash. In reality my son is telling me he’s not sure of the shot he just took. My mind immediately goes to tracking a wounded animal. Where will he be when we close the 80 yards? A wounded moose could be in the next game unit by the time I get there. I am sick to my stomach! I should not have let him take that shot. This is supposed to be fun.
In rushes hindsight. “No you hit him” I say. I remember the moose staggering to keep his rear up….I remember him gasping for air with a wide open mouth just before stepping out of our sight.
I gather my thoughts and confidently say “Let’s go get him”, though I am not as sure as I may seem.
We quickly make our way to where I think the bull was standing at the shot. My eyes are scanning the surrounding area for the bull standing, blood on the ground, any clue as to his whereabouts. Just then out of the corner of my eye I spot an antler sticking out well above the low lying brush. I stop and watch the moose for a brief moment. He is not moving. I am sure he is dead now. I look to my son who looks at me and says “What?” I extend my hand to shake his and I say “Congratulations buddy” He looks puzzled as he returns the handshake and again asks “What?” I point to my right and say “There’s your bull son.” We gather his younger brother and kneel to thank the lord for this moose. What an exciting morning with my two boys!
Further investigation revealed a perfect heart shot. The bull struggled, took two steps and collapsed, but this all happened out of our sight.
Here are my boys and I with the bull. My sons second in as many years. They are getting bigger!
I will spare you all of the boring details as this is getting long. I was able to take a small bull the next day and share the experience with my boys. Since we now had two moose in my immediate family, My Dad and Brother did not shoot moose because we shared ours with them…. Thanks guys.
We had a great Moose season and had several opportunity’s to take caribou on this trip…We had a deer hunt planned for later in November so we did not shoot caribou this season. My younger boy almost got a few, but like I said before he wasn’t quite ready.
In late November we set out on a father son Sitka Black Tail Hunt with my sons’ best friend, father and older brother.
The weather was rough, the snow was deep and the tides were high but we managed to get some deer and have a great time.
Day one was a bust with blowing snow and poor visibility. We had chances at deer, but the conditions played a part in the poor success.
Day two brought clear blue sky and temps in the teens. After the day before I decided we were just going to try and each take a decent deer to be sure we got something on this trip as the forecast was looking bad for the next day.
We spooked a single antler buck in a good spot and I gave my son the OK to shoot him. He did not know it only had one antler until after the shot because I did not tell him. He calls it the “Uni Buck”. His first buck!
We were able to get his deer to the beach with enough time to go after one for me. I shot this small buck on the bluff to my left and he rolled right down to the creek.
The next several days were very wet and miserable. In my mind we had accomplished the goal of getting a buck each though we continued to hunt for the chance at bigger bucks. I would have liked to take larger deer, but I was happy with our take so far. I was considering taking the last day of our trip off, so I asked my son if he was OK with his buck or did he want to try one more day. “Well dad, I kinda wanted one with two antlers to mount in my bedroom”. Was his reply. Good enough for me we will go out in the pouring rain for another chance.
About a mile in to our hike that day I spot a large bodied deer with his head down at the edge of a grove of trees. “This has to be a big buck.” I told my son. We stalk to within 100 yards while the buck continues feeding with his head down. I took my pack off and propped it up for him to shoot from and tell my son, “Get on him and when I tell you its OK go ahead and shoot him”.
A few moments go by with me looking through binoculars and my son waiting looking through his scope when the buck raises his head. “Shoot him” were my only words as I realized this was a nice buck. My son shot and the deer spun and walked into the trees where he shot again dropping the buck for good. We hurried over to his buck and as we admired it, I looked over his shoulder to see an even bigger buck in the brush. “Quick! Give me your rifle”. I ordered. By the time I was ready for a shot the buck bolted off and I did not get him. I know the old big one that got away story, but boy was I proud of my son and his buck!
The pictures are poor, but their all I’ve got.
I hope you enjoyed these stories and I’m sorry it’s so long. These were just the highlights of another season with my boys!