Fathers United For A Princess
February 13, 2018
Editorial Staff (287 articles)

Fathers United For A Princess

By Josh Harendt

Last year was an off hunting season for my family and me. I’d made it to a friend’s lease once for a quail hunt, and I managed to get one dove hunt. The season was closing fast, so when the opportunity to take my kiddos to a coworker’s lease in San Angelo became available, I took advantage of the opportunity.

I have had the honor of hunting on this ranch a few times, as a guest of my co-worker and friend, Kenny Ryan. It was the last weekend for deer season and the pressure was on for me and Macie, my 8-year-old daughter. But it was also a special hunt because it was my son Cooper’s first time out for a real hunt.

This ranch has produced some nice bucks, and I was excited about the opportunity for both kiddos to not only see and watch some nice deer, but Macie would have a good opportunity to take her first deer. As we all settled in for the night in preparation for an early morning hunt, the stories of past hunts and good times were shared by the campfire and Cooper and Macie ate their favorite deer camp food, s’mores.

We all woke up at 5 a.m. and headed out to the stand. As the sun started to peak over the horizon, we already had several smaller bucks in the field. Macie and Cooper sat and watched the deer make their way to the feeder.

Waiting in the blind

With four of us in a 3×6 blind, we sat and watched the deer, waiting for an older, more mature deer to walk out. As the morning hours drew on the kids’ appetites, their patience started to fade. It was about that time when the buck we had been waiting for stepped into the open. He went to the feeder opposite the one we had been watching.

After a few minutes of quiet, slow shuffling, I put Macie in place to line up a shot. She took her time and waited for the deer to turn broadside. It was so cool to watch her get the buck fever once she saw the deer through the scope. I talked her through controlling her breathing and taking her time.

As she calmed herself down, the buck turned and gave her the chance. I helped her steady the .243, and she squeezed the trigger. The shot went high and just behind the buck. The rest of the deer took off and our morning was over.

This was a new rifle. Unfortunately, I didn’t have it zeroed in 100 percent. I explained to Macie we would grab some breakfast, and afterwards I would make sure the rifle was good to go for the evening hunt.

In addition to Macie, Cooper and me, Kenny and Brent were at the lease, too, and have been hunting here for at least four years. Kenny has a grown daughter and Brent’s children are a little younger than mine. Watching these two men rally behind my daughter to make sure she was ready for the next hunt was truly amazing. Brent set up a table in the field and we took a target out.

A problem with the rifle

We started at 25 yards and worked our way to 50 yards, but something was just not right. All three of us shot the rifle and just could not get it to hold a good group. Finally, Brent checked the scope mount and discovered it was loose. I felt so bad for not knowing it caused the problem, and for Macie missing that deer because of the scope. We tightened it up and the rifle started grouping just like we thought it should. After getting it zeroed in at 50 yards, Macie took a few practice shots and she hit the bull’s-eye with every shot.

It was almost 4 p.m., and we went to the blind for the evening hunt. Cooper was getting tired from the early morning and unseasonably warm day, so Kenny offered to stay with him and keep him entertained while Macie and I tried a different spot that Kenny thought would be easier for Macie. Instead of a 100-yard shot, she would only have a 50 to 60 yard shot. We both climbed into the blind and patiently waited.

Show time

As soon as the feeder went off, a small six-point came trotting down the hill, straight for the feeder. He paused just for a moment at the edge of the trees before coming to the open space around the feeder. We watched this guy for 30 minutes make his way around the feeder. Macie was ready to take a shot, but I told her, “Hang in there. Let’s see what else comes in,” because it was still early.

It wasn’t long until we heard some ruffling off to our right. Then, as if he came out of thin air, this large eight-point walked out and went straight to the feeder. He stayed broadside the whole way. Macie, breathing heavily, tried to calm herself and lined up the shot. I helped her steady the rifle and told her to double check her crosshairs.

“When you’re ready, take the shot,” I whispered to her. She squeezed the trigger. I could tell immediately that she got him, and watched the buck stumble about 10 feet back toward the direction he had come from and he fell over.

I looked at Macie and said, “You did it, baby girl! You got him and he’s a nice one.”

We waited for just a few minutes and left the blind. We walked straight to him, and the closer we got, the bigger the deer became.

Picture time

I will never forget her face as I positioned the big buck for her to get her picture with him. I was so proud and grateful to have such good friend rally behind my goal of getting my baby girl her first deer. We loaded up to go get her brother so he could see this amazing buck that his sister shot as her first deer. I tried my best to explain to Macie she is so fortunate to have shot such a nice buck.

I have spent my whole life hunting whitetail and it was 4 years before I ever saw a buck. She will have a hard time out doing her first deer. But after this trip, the love of the hunt is part of her. From the environment of God’s beautiful country, the stories around the campfire, and the good-natured fathers who made it their mission to get this baby girl her first deer. It was the total experience that sealed the deal.

The celebration and congratulations that followed boosted her spirits and her love for the hunt. I look forward to having the same opportunity with Cooper in the years to come.



Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff


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