If you read our previous blog post, you would have known that this past weekend was spent with my son on his first ever deer hunts as the youth season is open here in Iowa. Start to finish, it was absolutely perfect minus not killing the buck we were after. Growing up without my dad in the picture, except for every some odd weeks or months when I'd spend a weekend with him, I always dreamed of being a father that would be able to take his son out hunting. I only have one son, so it's kind of make-it-or-break-it scenario. Well, Brantley, who turns 8 here in mid October, went out with his old man for a chance at shooting a "good buck" with his first real gun (amongst 20-30 toy and nerf guns). I knew the potential ahead as I picked him up from school on Friday afternoon, but he did not. After all, he's just a kid doing kid things thinking about what kids think about.
Friday evening was spent loading the truck up, relaxing, and having a hopeful custom/ritual in a bonfire at home talking about the hunt ahead. He hit the sack early, and my wife and I stayed up at the fire. After a while, I became lost in thought about how special this weekend was to me, how special it could eventually be for my boy decades later, and how I wish I could share this memory with my grandfather who taught me to hunt and fish. I have to admit the emotions were strong at this point. The thoughts were all very sentimental. I was more anxious for our weekend than he was, but that's okay. That is expected. This is his first rodeo.
We got up Saturday morning to hit the road and get to the farms early enough to try and put a Radix Monarch tower blind on one of my Zone 6 farms, where I have a wonderful gentleman hunting in November. There's no stand trees to consider, and a ground blind is not sufficient. As we got about 30 minutes from the house in-route, my truck's oil pressure gauge went to 0. I panicked and pulled over at a gas station just ahead. Thinking I lost all of my oil, and knowing I had probably burned some oil at a minimum, I didn't check the dipstick. I added a few quarts of oil, and finally started back on the road. The gauge didn't reset and the check engine light came on. "Maybe the gauge is broken," I thought. I was 25 minutes from an AutoZone on our route, so I set course for there to get the code reader for the check engine sign. Bad switch. Uh-oh. I added too much oil. This could do damage to the truck, so I got a drain pan, and I started draining oil. Mind you, I have never changed my own oil. Thankfully, YouTube showed me what to do. I dropped 3 quarts of oil in the pan, made a lovely mess, and eventually got back on the road, just expecting something to blow. Luckily, nothing bad happened and we arrived down at the farms.
We went and picked up our blind and chairs, headed to this other farm where we were going to put it up, and we started to get to work. Brantley was an absolute trooper helping me with nuts and bolts, instructions, and trash duty. Due to the vehicle hiccup, we were behind schedule. We ended up getting the tower completely done before we had to either stay and hunt, or go hunt elsewhere. Thinking all of our ruckus was enough reason to get out of there, we went to another farm. Brantley was still undecided if he wanted to try for a buck or a doe, and after a quick conversation, he decided he wanted a buck.
We set out down the hill from where we park where we could shoot across a creek in standing beans next to a big bedding area. We almost always have deer in this vicinity. This farm was special for Brantley and I because it is where he accompanied me turkey hunting this past spring. He immediately was excited once that clicked in his head. We eventually got into our spot, got setup, and started the wait. This was when I thought it was a good time to document the memories a bit with my phone.
After being setup for a while, my Spartan GoCam sent me this below photo from the farm where we were just at building the tower blind overlooking a food plot...
In the photo, you can see the boxes from the blind right where our tower is. The buck is covering the blind tower in the photo. He's at 40-50yds there, and I bet Brantley would have shot this buck no questions asked. If that isn't deer hunting, I don't know what is. Brantley was not as disappointed as I was, but nonetheless, we kept hunting on the other farm.
Around 6:15-6:30PM, I heard something in the corn ahead of us, and out stepped some deer, but I couldn't see much as they were moving a lot and staying around the slight bend. I saw tails and rear ends turning around. Eventually, they crossed the creek and made their way into our 'go area' of the beans. 100-150 yard chip shot. I said, "now is the time to shoot that doe if you want the doe, Bubba!" He said, "Dad, I want to shoot a good buck." Okay then! We watched as that doe and two small dinks went up towards one of my food plots about 600yds away. Boy, did they cover ground to get to that plot. We never saw any of the bucks we were after, but Brantley had an absolute blast. I could easily see that he caught the hunting bug, and that made me extremely happy.
We packed out, got back up the hill to the truck, and got loaded up to head back to the hotel. He was chipper. All was okay despite not killing a deer. I mean, he did have a chance at a doe. I have the same feeling as I do when hosting my hunters. I'm hungry for the success. I want it badly. I felt like a failure. Other kids were dropping hammers on the first sit, and we couldn't even see one. I felt like I let him down. I truly did. Yet, his smile told me it was okay.
We went back to the hotel, of which is where we stayed on our turkey hunt... He goes, "Dad? Do you think we can get the same room that we had when we turkey hunted? That room was cool!" I said that I didn't know if we could. After booking a room, I started to think that it was the same room, but when we walked in, it sure was! Brantley was stoked! This room was decorated for hunters, and Brantley recognized it immediately. We got unloaded in the room, and I told him that the next morning would be spent either hunting or putting that blind together. He said he wanted to sleep in and go work on the blind. I agreed. We were out within minutes. The next morning, we loaded up, checked out, and headed to the farm we hunted the night before to grab our things and the Ranger. We finally got that done after I had trouble getting the ball into the hitch, and we headed to the blind. We immediately got to work. Brantley helped me the entire day. He was sort of in aw of the blind as it took form. I was too. I have four more of these to eventually get out when the crops are finally harvested, so I am looking forward to that but also learning do's and don'ts with the complex install.
We got it setup, and still had 90 minutes to go check out another farm and get cams up on it in Zone 6. We drove about 20 minutes north to that farm, took some pics (below), and got two cameras up on it. It'll be a dynamite rut farm. This is a farm that I just gained as we had to switch the access up with our leasing team and landowners. My two bowhunters who are hunting it will really enjoy it.
We then headed back to the blind farm to get out for our evening sit before heading back home. He had school in the morning. As we walked in toward the blind and got in, I got some pics on the phone. I love the approach into spots. It's when I get truly receptive to the environment.
As we sat there, we goofed around, ate some snacks and candy, made each other laugh, and waited on a deer. About 5:00PM, the neighbor to the west started racing his ATV around his farm and the road. This dude is never doing this when I've been there. I'm not fond of the man because I think he took a camera off of here this Spring when he moved in, but I found out he is moving again. Awesome! Yet, I was worried that his running around the farm would either push deer away from us. We didn't see a single thing. If I felt like a failure before, this time it was multiplied. I tried not to let him see it, but I really, really wanted him to have a shot on this farm that night, especially after all of the work we put into it. If you looked at him, you wouldn't know any different. He was still happy and doing great. I should learn a lesson from him. I told him that I was really sorry that he didn't get one, and we hugged each other tight before heading out to the truck. As soon we got in the truck, he went and laid down in the back watching TV on the iPad, 'Last Man Standing', and I headed down the road to my buddy's to drop of my trailer and Ranger. We headed out from there, and I knew he was hungry. "Dad, could we please get some Casey's pizza on the way?" "Of course, Buddy!"
His manners and attitude are impeccable. I'm so blessed to be his dad. Not once did he sound sad about not seeing anything that night or killing a deer. Not once did he complain about the sits, the walks, the work, the drive. Knowing how kids can be, I felt that despite failing on the harvest side of the hunt, I succeeded in every other front, especially as a dad. He eventually fell asleep as we continued home, and I kept thinking just how truly blessed I am to have him as my boy.
I love you, Bubba, and I am so proud of you. Lets get after that buck next weekend!
Sitting at home last night, I watched the clock on my phone knowing when shooting light was up, wishing we were out there again... and the Spartan GoCam goes off ten minutes later....
... it was "Boss" the bully buck that we have been after and he's in the plot we were hunting over the night before.... he has a date this Saturday. Hopefully, he arrives on time. I now hate this deer... He needs to go.