This morning, as my 12-year-old son, William, was getting ready for school, he turned to me and said, “I’m excited about the hunt.”
In just five days, the Wisconsin youth firearms deer hunting weekend begins. It will be the first deer hunt of his life. His ticket was punched back in March, when I bought him a Wisconsin junior patron license, good for spring turkey, fall turkey and deer.
We have been talking up the hunt for weeks, and I have taken him out shooting several times. He started losing his zeal for target shooting, which made me wonder about his interest level for the hunt.
I needn’t have worried. Just that one comment told me he is fired up for the chance at a whitetail.
Speaking of fired up, William is not the only one who will take a gun out into the woods this week for whitetails. My father, Ray, leaves tomorrow for a special hunt for disabled war veterans at Camp Ripley near Little Falls. The hunt takes place Wednesday and Thursday, and I don’t think I have ever seen my dad so excited.
He isn’t exactly jumping up and down, but my brother, Paul, and I both have noticed clear signs that he is really looking forward to this. If he is successful, it means that he will tag his first deer at age 89. I doubt there are statistics available on this, but I wonder if he might set the record for oldest hunter to shoot his first deer.
I would love to go up with him, but it’s not going to work out. Paul will make the trip instead. Dad has an experienced guide who is 10-for-10 with hunters he has guided in this annual affair, which pairs more than 50 disabled hunters with experienced volunteer guides.
That alone gives me lots of hope for Dad. If he can shoot straight, I think he’ll tag his first whitetail. Deer are abundant at Camp Ripley. In fact, when I went to a meeting in which we met Dad’s guide, he said all 10 of the hunters he guided killed their deer on the first day. Wow!
It would be very interesting to see how many hunters 89 or older buy deer hunting licenses in Minnesota this year. I’ll bet I can count them on two hands, maybe only one.
My major concern for Dad would be that the recoil of my 12-gauge shotgun would be too much for him to handle. But, when I expressed this to him, he said the gun’s kick doesn’t bother him.
If I doubt the veracity of his claim, I need only think back to his turkey hunt in the spring, when he shot a gobbler with my brother’s 12-gauge pump shotgun. That gun has even more recoil than my semiautomatic, and Dad had no problem with it.
I look at it this way — he may only take one shot on the hunt, and I don’t think he’ll feel any pain until long after the deer is down.