My daughter Kelli and I were hunting in Julesberg on the South Platte River and both had Colorado and Nebraska hunting licenses. We have a friend who owns property up there with half the property in Colorado and the other half in Nebraska. So, we can hunt both states. Kelli had an either-sex deer tag to take a buck or a doe. Kelli was only 12 on this hunt, and we saw nine bucks. Kelli decided she didn’t want to harvest any of those bucks we saw that were young with only 3 or 4 points. Kelli said if she couldn’t take an older-age-class buck, she’d take a doe. I was really proud of her for making that decision. When she was 12, she was hunting with a .243, but today she hunts with a .270. She had a Leupold 3-9X riflescope mounted on her .243. When we spotted the doe, I used my range finder and told Kelli, “The doe’s at 90 yards.”
On the way out to the South Platte, Kelli was looking at the terrain and said, “Mom, why did we come out here? This looks like the desert.” Kelli was accustomed to hunting in the mountains and seeing plenty of deer, elk and bear. She didn’t see any game on the way to the South Platte River, but I knew the property really well and realized there was plenty of game there. On the first morning, we went to a double tree-stand set-up that I had put up in a tree before the hunt. Six turkeys flew down at first light, followed by deer coming out in every direction. A coyote ran across in front of us, and geese and ducks flew overhead. Naturally Kelli’s opinion of hunting the South Platte changed radically. If you ask her today what’s her favorite property to hunt, she’ll say Julesberg on the South Platte.
When bucks would walk out, Kelli would say, “He’s too young for me to shoot.” But another reason Kelli wouldn’t shoot a young buck was because she knew there were big bucks on this property. Kelli never had shot a deer at this time, and even when a 3 point almost walked under our tree stand, Kelli didn’t get excited about taking him. She told me, “I’d rather take a doe than a young buck.” When I spotted a nice doe at 90 yards, Kelli brought her rifle up and took the shot. The doe went down like a sack of rocks. Kelli and I hiked over to the doe, skinned her, boned the meat out and put the meat in game bags. I had carried in a frame pack. I also carried Kelli’s gun and pack to help take some of the weight off of her.
To get back to our truck, Kelli and I had to wade the South Platte. It was from knee-deep to thigh-deep, but because I’d hunted there before we both had brought waders with us. Kelli was really proud of her doe, and I was proud of her for taking the doe. She insisted on carrying out the meat from her deer just like she had seen her dad and me carry out meat when we took an animal. Although her pack was heavy, we only had to walk about 1/2-mile. She really wanted to do what we did when we had a successful hunt. That was another one of those mother/daughter times that we’ll remember as long as we live.