Yes, my 4-year-old blonde-hair-big-blue-eyed doe, has witnessed the first of probably many deer kills. Steve has taken Payton out to the woods to watch for deer, never with the intent to kill. That all changed a few weeks ago. Here is the story according to Steve.
Sometime things just come together. Thankfully Payton and I were able to be a part of one of those hunts. It was Friday, January 11th 2013. Just a day before her much anticipated “bubble gum birthday party” we had planned in honor of her fourth birthday. There was an “antlerless only season” open and I had a doe tag burning a hole in my pocket that I had promised to fill for a friend at church. Since it was unusually warm that day I decided that it was a good opportunity for Payton to hit the woods with me as well.
The last time she went, I was more interested in watching deer then shooting deer and that frustrated her. This time, I knew I wanted to pull the trigger and I wasn’t sure she was ready for the action. I asked her a few questions to gauge her awareness of situation and after a quick conversation, I had enough confidence to give it a try.
Her afternoon nap was done and it was time to head out to the woods. Payton knew that along with our “noculars” and gun, we also needed some “junk” food. She decided that when we hunt, she gets one junk food and I get one junk food. It only took a few minutes and I had my camo hat wearing beauty and her cherry sucker loaded in the truck and we were headed out for the 10 minute ride to the property.
I often park about 75 yards into the field and since it was muddy and I had Payton with me, I decided that is what I was going to do for that hunt also. We pulled on the property and were just seconds way from parking when I noticed a flash of white in a patch of cedars. I stopped and it stopped. She was 80 yards away standing behind a couple of trees. I quickly and quietly loaded the 30.06 and made the choice to leave the truck running so there wouldn’t be a change in the environment. Thankfully I was able to sneak to the back of the Explorer and prepare for a shot, only to find out the tree was blocking the deer. Wondering if it was still there, I walked to the front of the vehicle and discovered she was still presenting a shot. With both elbows on the hood of the explorer and with Payton watching from her car seat, a bullet was sent, successfully finding its target. Payton asked “Did you get it?” I responded with an “I think so” as I pulled her out of the car seat. I turned off the vehicle and we walked to where I last saw the deer. The walk, although it was not long, consisted of a fun conversation where, in between licks of her sucker, she would ask me to carry her. As we got close we could see our deer, lying right behind the cedar tree. Payton was excited. I was excited.
Sometimes it comes together and I am glad that it did that afternoon with Payton. At this point, her limited perspective on hunting has to be that it is a lot easier than I make it out to be. I wonder what she will think when we sit in the woods for hours without seeing one. I hope to have the chance to find out! After all, a day in the woods with my daughter is all the reminder I need that I am one blessed man.