By Mark Kenyon
It was Social Studies, I think, Junior year in high school and we were sitting in the back of the classroom. Our teacher droned on about politics of the 19th century, but we weren’t listening. No, my best buddy Josh Hillyard and I were staring slack jawed at the pictures of big bucks in the latest Deer & Deer Hunting magazines. This was Step 1 in my plan to get Josh out deer hunting for the first time, and it was working. Soon after, he decided to join me on a hunt for the first time, and we snuck down into the woods behind my parents house and crammed into a small ground blind. I was thrilled to see that he enjoyed it and he joined me on several more hunts. Eventualy I gave him an old bow of mine and began teaching him to shoot.
Then came college and the the madness of work, school and sports. Josh wasn’t able to get in the woods much until after graduation. But then things got serious. After school Josh got bit by the hunting bug bad, and he’s been hard at it ever since.
Since then there have been many close calls, lots of great encounters and some really exciting hunts. But still – no deer on the ground for Josh. I had been doing everything I could to help put Josh in position to get that first deer, but things just hadn’t worked out. That is until last night.
It was Josh’s last night to be able to hunt for the season and he was down hunting on one of my properties in Southern Michigan. He had been hunting all weekend, but the action had been slow. So with it being the last hunt of the year for him, I decided we needed to take things up a notch. I sent Josh into my best stand location, that I usually reserved for hunting myself, only when conditions were perfect. You’ve probably read about a few of the encounters I’ve had here, because there have been a lot. This stand sits in a finger of timber between a Whitetail Institute Winter Greens food plot, and a thin finger of a cut soybean field. Deer had been slamming the Winter Greens plot, and I knew it was just a matter of time before a nice buck came out of the swamp to the South and headed towards those tasty greens.
Josh got settled into the stand shortly after 3:00, and only 30 minutes later he had taken a huge step in his hunting career. He had just finished up filming an intro interview and posting an update on Facebook, when he looked up and saw a doe heading straight towards him across the bean field. Right behind her was a buck!
Josh turned the camera back on, centered it on the deer and grabbed his gun. After a few seconds the buck paused and offered an almost broad side shot. Josh took aim and squeezed the trigger. The buck mule kicked, sprinted 20 yards and crashed at the edge of the field. Within seconds of the shot, Josh’s first deer was lying dead only a stones throw away.
It was an amazing end to a great season and the culmination of many years of hard work. Congrats again Josh on a terrific first deer!
– Mark Kenyon