Written by Bowhunting.com contributor Brodie Swisher
Flip the TV on to any one of the many hunting and outdoor industry networks and you’ll quickly see that the whitetail buck is king. Trophy bucks are a dime a dozen, right? Or at least that’s what the viewer is led to believe. But in my neck of the woods in Montana, the 120” buck is a shooter…all day long. He won’t get a free pass if he walks by my stand! And while I love shooting big bucks like anyone else, this year I had my sights set on trophies of a different kind.
Better GoalsMy goal going into the 2012/2013 deer season was to kill a deer with each of my kids in the ground blind with me, and punched doe tags were certainly worthy of trophy status. I have killed turkeys with my daughter, Avery, (age 9) but had yet to kill a deer with her in the stand. My 7-year-old boy, Aidan, played camera-boy for me last year as we tag-teamed on a couple does that got a little too close to the blind. As a “seasoned camera-boy” of the ground blind, he was anxious to get back in the woods and see the action unfold again. However, the true challenge would come in hunting with my 3-year-old boy, Easton. He is loud, restless, and can’t whisper to save his life! It would be a fun challenge…and frustrating.
When it comes to hunting with children, nothing beats a good ground blind!
The Double Bull ground blind has always been my choice of concealment for getting to full draw on super-close critters. But when adding a small child to the mix, the ground blind becomes priceless. The movement that results from hunting with a small child, and trying to self-film, and come to full draw, is enough to spook game into the next county. But within the walls of the Double Bull blind, we get away with the motion. One particular ground blind, strategically place in an old apple orchard, was the ideal set for each of my kids to encounter whitetail deer up close and personal.
Seasoned CameraBoyMy son, Aidan, was up first and he did a great job of running the camera for me while a big boss doe cruised by in front of our blind. He’s watched enough outdoor programming that he’s got the “camera whisper” down pat, and even likes to give the excessive play by play of the hunt when the opportunity presents itself. On this day, he gave me the green light to shoot when the deer was at 26 yards and he had her framed in the camera. I dropped the string and we both began to celebrate. His excitement and smiles over that one doe was the prize for me on that day. On the ride home, Aidan said, “Thanks for taking me hunting, daddy…I just love you so much!” It was at that moment I was reminded of what truly matters.
The author’s seasoned “camera-boy” is well on his way to being a professional.
Against All OddsI took my youngest son, Easton, with me on a windy afternoon in the apple orchard. We took a pack full of snacks and games to keep him occupied for our few hours in the blind. However, when we went through all of the snacks in the first half hour, I knew we were in trouble. Easton’s attention span is worse than mine. He gets restless quick. Fortunately, we had deer show up pretty quick that day and his attention was held once again. However, we blew three different volleys of deer within bow-range due to excessive noise. Easton tried to whisper, “I can’t see the deer!” But it came out at a volume well beyond a whisper. Deer snorted and quickly ran away.
Despite the “ants in his pants”, the author’s youngest son managed to stay still just long enough for his dad to make a lethal shot on this trophy. At one point, he hit the play button for a video on my iPhone. The loud sound of the video from my other son singing at church blared out across the orchard! Once again, we cleared the scene of whitetail does. At one point in the evening we had nearly 30 deer closing in on our setup. I begged, pleaded, and prayed that Easton would sit still, and not speak. He wiggled to where he could see deer outside our blind and then froze. When a young doe walked up to 8 yards of our blind, I took her as a gift from God and dropped the string. Once again smiles, hugs, high-fives, and knuckles flooded the blind. Easton had experienced the death of a doe in the apple orchard, and he would never be the same.
Doe for Daddy’s GirlNot to be outdone by her brothers, Avery wanted her time to hang out with daddy in the ground blind. Shortly after settling into the blind and getting her books and snacks sorted out, Avery noticed deer making their way across the field. She flipped the video camera on while I glassed to take inventory. A quick look revealed three does running toward our blind. We scrambled to get things in place. I didn’t even have my release on my wrist when the does strolled into bow-range. When the biggest deer in the bunch walked by the blind at just 20 yards, Avery let me know that she had the deer on camera. I bleated to stop the deer and then loosed the string. The deer dropped in its tracks from a high-shoulder connection with the arrow. Avery squealed and danced in the blind! She was stoked, to say the least. Avery and I do regular daddy-daughter dates, but on that day she had to admit that daddy-daughter deer hunting dates were now her favorite.
This is one “date night” the author’s daughter won’t soon forget.
ConclusionTo me It’s not about the bone…it’s about the bond. I can honestly say that I’ve bonded with my kids while hunting together better than any other time in our lives. I watch some of these so-called “hunting celebrities” boast of the sacrifice they make to become the ultimate hunter, and I cringe. Far too often it’s at the sake of their marriages and relationships with their children…the things that truly matter most. Looking back over the season I’m reminded that my greatest moments were those spent with my kids, punching doe tags. Without a doubt, those are among my greatest trophies.
See the web videos of Aidan and Easton’s deer hunts at thrutheseason.com/watch-now
Brodie Swisher is world champion game caller, outdoor writer, and seminar speaker. Check out his website at thrutheseason.com