Editor’s Note: Roy Franklin of Westport, Kentucky, had taken a buck of a lifetime on September 17, 2013. Little did he know that he would go on a better hunt where a better buck would be taken by his 10-year-old-son Clay.
My son, Clay, took his first deer – a doe - when he was 6-years old and has taken several deer each year. I always take Clay with me whenever I can. He’s my favorite hunting partner. He loves to deer and turkey hunt. Clay hunts with a Rossi Youth Model .243. But in 2013, Clay decided he wanted to hunt the early blackpowder season. I took Clay hunting during the youth deer hunting season, but he failed to get a deer. So, he wanted to continue hunting through blackpowder season. Before our hunt, I set-up targets. I had Clay practice shooting the Traditions .50 caliber with a Mossy Oak pattern. When I saw that he could consistently shoot accurately with the Traditions rifle, I decided he was confident enough with that gun to hunt during blackpowder season.
On Saturday, October 19, 2013, Clay and I were hunting out of a ground blind, overlooking a cut soybean field. I heard Clay whisper, “Dad, a nice buck just came out into the field.” Looking through my binoculars, I could see this mature buck was feeding, as he came toward us. We had a perfect wind. So, I helped Clay get his blackpowder rifle on his shooting sticks and prepare for the shot. The buck was still about 300-yards away from our blind. “When the deer crosses that drainage ditch, he’s within range, and when he’s broadside or quartering away from us, after he crosses the ditch, you can take the shot,” I told Clay. I had ranged the ditch at 70 yards. We were both getting excited about the possibility of Clay taking this buck. Just as the deer came out of the ditch, he presented Clay with a shot. Clay squeezed the trigger, and the blackpowder rifle fired. I saw the buck spin and run right back into the woods where we first had seen him. We stayed in the blind for about 30 minutes. After we could no longer contain our excitement, we hurried across the field to the last spot where we’d seen the buck exiting the field. We found the blood trail as night approached. We took our flashlights and continued to walk the blood trail. Clay was in front, and I heard him say, “Dad, there he is.” The buck only went about 60 yards into the woods before he went down.
The buck that Clay took was an 8-pointer that scored in the 140s on Boone and Crockett and was the third buck that Clay had taken. After the second buck, Clay and I had agreed that the next buck he took should be a really-mature buck. We had passed on a lot of young bucks, before he had an opportunity to take this buck. I was probably more excited about the buck than Clay was. Sure, I had taken a big buck a few weeks earlier, but I can honestly say that seeing the smile on my son’s face and feeling his excitement from taking this really nice 8-pointer far surpassed the excitement I’d felt a couple weeks earlier when I took my big buck.