Categorized | Opinion

Youth Deer Hunting

By Josh Gowan

Angie Bright poses with a 10 point buck from Southeast Missouri.

Angie Bright poses with a 10 point buck from Southeast Missouri.

“There is no more difficult weapon with which to kill a deer than an 8 year old boy.” – Josh Gowan
Yeah I know, I’m no Twain, but I believe he’d have liked that one.
I suppose I’m closing the book on Missouri’s 2013 rifle season, without my boy getting a deer, and man is it tough. We still have a hunt in Kentucky after Christmas, and Missouri’s January two-day late season, so there is still hope.
Tennessee and Missouri need a reciprocal agreement like we have in the Mississippi River, at least for youths. Tennessee’s nearly two month long rifle season opens this weekend, and in order to take my son across the river and hunt in my second home state, I have to buy my own $251 tag along with his $40 tag just for him to hunt, that’s tough.
This past Saturday I got permission to hunt some land behind the levee in southern New Madrid County where the deer are as thick as rabbits. I went in Saturday morning and surveyed the area, set up a ground blind and brushed it in.
I knew the temps paired with the strong north wind would make short work of my skinny little companion, and the ground blind would act as a wind break while giving us room for my “Mr. Buddy” propane heater.
We got up before 4am on Sunday and made it to the river by 5:30. He enjoyed the ride in by UTV, and after dropping off all our equipment, chairs, snacks, drinks, and so on, we drove back and parked the Rhino and walked in. I’m fairly protective over my son, especially in the woods or on the water (and thinking back on my raising in the outdoors, it’s really unclear how I developed this trait) and rather than leaving him with the blind, I took him with me to walk in, as well as loaded rifle. I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods in the dark, and have outgrown fear of things like Bigfoot, Wampus Cats, and Chubacabras, but there is something about the Mississippi River bottoms that keeps me a little more “alert” than usual.
I gave Jameson a flashlight and he kept falling behind, constantly discovering bits and pieces of nature that needed further examination. After “whisper-yelling” (the same tactic used in Church) at him multiple times to keep up, I finally leaned down and explained to him what a cougar was, and how they’ve been spotted back there for years, and he had no problem following step for step after that!
Once we got in and set up, he asked me if we were going to turn on the heater. I told him we should wait as long as possible because in the dark and early dawn our windows would glow. Around 7 a.m., I was cold, my fingers and toes were beginning to sting, so I asked my hot-natured son if he was ready for me to turn on the heater. “No, I’m fine”, was his response, and he went on playing a game on his DS. 15 minutes later, I asked again, and he was still “fine”. By 7:30 I assured him that it was plenty light enough outside, that the heater wouldn’t bother the deer, and it would be best if his hands were warm so he would be able to handle his gun better, but it was up to him if he wanted me to turn it on… He decided it was best to go ahead turn it on, thank God!
We sat from dark until 2:30 and never saw a hair. He was doing his best but was visibly ready to go home, my back was killing me from sitting and watching, and mom was ready for us to come home as well, so we abandoned ship.
I was again disheartened and defeated, and he was again oblivious and unaffected. A few more tries left in the next couple months, so keep your fingers crossed!
Duck season opens this week for most of us, and as long as you’re not froze up, it should be a great opening. Next week I’ll be reporting from the duck blind!

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