This story ultimately begins on April 24th of 2013, the birth of my little boy. I have dreamt of having my own little hunting buddy for a long time, and now it was coming true…
Fast forward seven years, its April 24th, 2020, and it’s the morning of Brayton’s 7th birthday and its turkey season here in Missouri. Due to the pandemics, he was home, and we went turkey hunting with my brother in law Trevor. It was one of those perfect turkey hunting days; the air was a little cool, there was no wind, so everything was still, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We managed to watch a Tom fly up into the roost the night before, so we had a good idea where to set up that morning. We managed to sneak into that spot about 50 yards away from the tree he was in without spooking him, so we thought we were sitting in good shape. With every gobble that bird let out, I think Bryaton shook more and more every time. About 7:00, the sun starts to break the skyline’s surface, and the bird flies down out of the roost, but he never comes into range. I have no idea what we did wrong to have screwed that up to this day, but that was the only Tom in the area, so our hunt was over there.
We went to try to locate more birds that morning without any luck, so we went home empty-handed. I have to give it to my son; he is the most positive person I have ever met on this earth. He said “it’s ok, Dad, its a long season. Well, get one.”
The rest of the season didn’t produce much luck, mostly because of missed opportunities, and I was busy with work. Brayton did manage to get a shot on one; unfornately, he was just a touch high. With turkey season over, it was time for the whole family to start filling the kayaks with fish.
We managed to fish our butts off all summer and had a blast and caught a ton of fish and made a ton of memories that I will never forget. In late July, I had to have a knee surgery supposed to have a rehab time of six months. So deer season was not looking plausible for me to hunt or take bubby. Luckily enough, I worked my tail off and managed to hobble to the stand, and was able to accomplish my ultimate goal that year… Take my son on his first deer hunt.
Now he’s gone with me in the past, but this was the first year he got to hunt. He has been watching hunting shows for months, and he literally eats, breaths, and sleeps hunting and fishing. So the opening morning of bow season couldn’t come soon enough in the Yeager household.
We went a few times without luck, but Brayton stayed committed and continued to hunt hard. Finally, one evening in early October, we were sitting in the ground blind over a turnip filled food plot waiting for an opportunity. Several deer came into the plot that evening, but bub only had a 20-yard window given to him by dad. We argued overshooting a couple other does that were 35 yards, but I managed to hold him off.
Finally, about an hour before dark, a young doe walks right into that 20-yard window. I help him get set up on the shooting sticks. He was shaking like crazy, so I had to get him to take some deep breaths. I get him to calm down, tell him to breathe out and squeeze the trigger, and…..
Thwap!!! He dropped that doe right in her tracks!
And in that moment, I instantly went back to when he was born, how excited I was to have my little hunting buddy. All Those years before taking him out and teaching him about the animals, teaching him ethics, and teaching him everything outdoors has come to this moment. His first-ever deer, I am blessed enough to have gotten to witness my son kill his first deer. This is one of those stories that he will remember his whole life, just like all of us. He will always have that first deer story.
Back to the story, I was so excited!! I instantly grabbed his crossbow and tackled him out of his chair! As I was tackling him, I took him, the crossbow, and the entire blind with us. ( when you’re six foot five, and you already take up most of a two-person blind. It doesn’t take much.)
After we gather ourselves, we walk up to her. We thank the good lord for the harvest, and then I teach him how to gut and butcher the animal. As I was teaching him how to butcher the deer, a sense of pride ran over me. This was a valuable lesson that I am teaching him. This lesson would be one of his foundational building blocks; this would be a core value. And One day, when I’m gone, and if the world goes to crap, I will know that my son can not only survive, but he can thrive.
Since then, we have gone on many hunts, but this time he is pickier. This time he is wanting a buck. We could not produce his first antlered deer, but; we were able to create many memories that neither one of us will forget. I am very excited to see what the future holds for opportunities to spend that quality time together in the woods. Thanks for reading!