Cuz's Deer Hunt with His 6-Year-Old Grandson Matt
Editor’s Note: Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland of West Point, Mississippi, is a legend in the outdoors. Cuz started his outdoor career as an outdoor editor for the Natchez, Miss. newspaper. Then when the world discovered video, Cuz was a cameraman and videoed for Primos Game Calls. Today, Cuz is vice president of Mossy Oak television and video productions. Cuz has been a bowhunter for as long as he can remember, once shot tournament archery and is a PSE Pro Staffer.
My deer hunting trip with my grandson Matt Ellis was supposed to be just a dry run. I’d been introducing myself to the ins and outs of a crossbow with the hopes of getting some family members to go bowhunting. I never even had held a crossbow or shot one. But I quickly learned I may have been missing something. In the process of getting myself and other family members familiar with the horizontal archery gear, one of my grandsons, 6-year-old Matt Ellis, made me aware after his practice session that he was ready to go bowhunting. So we did. The weather was hot as usual in October in Mississippi, however, I’d never tell a 6-year old that the weather was too hot or too windy to hunt, or the time was too late or too anything.
We must have sounded like a Christmas parade getting to and settled into the pop-up blind I’d set-up weeks earlier. Along with a fired-up 6-year old, I had two chairs, a PSE Fang crossbow (www.pse-archery.com), a pack, full video gear including a tripod, snacks and a hand-drawn 6-year old’s rendition of a white-tailed deer drawn on the back of a rifle target complete with a bold black X to remind Matt where to aim. We somehow managed to get all the gear in the blind and settled. I had the crossbow sitting on a Caldwell DeadShot FieldPod (www.caldwellshooting.com), which was perfect for this situation.
Matt began to work on his snacks, and I was adjusting the camera tripod when he whispered, “Pop, there’s a deer.” Not only was it a deer, it was the perfect deer for him - a young doe with no fawn and her head down in the BioLogic (www.plantbiologic.com). All of a sudden this dry run was starting to feel like a hunt. I videotaped the doe for a minute, and soon a second doe and spike were in the small plot. Matt was already looking through the scope with both hands on the crossbow. I just watched to see how he would handle things. My thoughts were all over the place, asking myself:
- Is he too young?
- Does he understand what killing a deer means?
- Have we pushed him into this because we like it?
However, I focused the camera and waited for his reaction. Well, I didn’t have to wait long. Matt’s next words were, “Pop, if she moves to the right a little, I can take her.” Well, alrighty then, no more negative thoughts - let’s roll.