Chris Jones | Mossy Oak ProStaffer
I had a tremendous hunt - really the hunt of a lifetime - on opening morning of the 2017 bow season in Texas. I got to my stand about 5:30 a.m., before first light. That morning, I saw three does and two young bucks. But the afternoon hunt was what made this opening day a hunt I’ll never forget.
For the afternoon hunt, I took my 6-year-old son Colton. Before this hunt, I had made the decision to harvest a doe. Colton and I were set up in a ground blind, and the first deer to come out was a doe. She was extremely nervous and spooky - maybe because I had a 6-year-old in the blind with me who couldn’t sit still for very long. I learned that youngsters, especially as young as Colton, weren’t wired for long hunts and for sitting still very long. The doe was at 37 yards, and I knew I had to either take her, or she was going to spook from hearing all the activity going on in our blind.
I drew my bow back, aimed right behind the front shoulder and double-lunged her, while Colton was peeping through the window of the blind. The doe only ran about 45 yards. When Colton saw the arrow strike the doe, he could barely contain himself. He was trying to jump out the window of the blind to go follow the doe.
When I got Colton out of the blind through the door, we went to look for our doe. The direction the doe went was really thick. The grass and bushes was chest high on me. Colton disagreed with me on the way the deer had run after she took the arrow.
“No, Daddy,” Colton said. “The deer didn’t run that way. She ran this way.” Then he started running off in another direction.
After I got him stopped, I said, “No, Colton. Come back here, and follow me. We’ll find the deer.”
I couldn’t have been on the blood trail for more than 5 minutes when Colton asked, “Do you think we should give up trying to find the deer, because I don’t think we’re going to find her.”
I'm sure that 5 minutes of looking seemed like an eternity to a 6-year-old. But after Colton said he thought we ought to give up on finding the doe, I recognized that I had a great teaching opportunity.
I said, “No, Colton. We’re going to find this deer, and remember that you don’t ever give up trying to find a deer that you’ve shot. Remember that after you shoot an animal, you do everything you can to attempt to locate that animal.”
Once we got to the doe, I made a few pictures of Colton with the doe. Then I dragged her out and loaded her up, and we left the stand site. When we got back to the house, I could see Colton was about halfway asleep. I skinned the doe, quartered it and put the meat on ice. When Colton went to school the next day, I think he told everyone within ear shot about the deer that he and his dad had taken.
Last year, I tried taking Colton turkey hunting with me, and Colton spooked the turkeys that we were trying to take. Colton was only 5 then. So, I decided to wait another year before I tried to take him hunting again with me. I realize that you can try to start hunting a youngster too early, and before they truly understand the words patience and sitting still. I also learned that for a youngster to sit still and quiet for 5 minutes is an eternity to a child.
Chris Jones is Mossy Oak’s Regional ProStaff Manager for whitetails, turkeys and big game for Mossy Oak in the State of Texas. But Jones also hunts Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ohio and Tennessee.