There’s something special about your first hunting success. There’s really something special about your child’s first, whether it’s a bunny or a bull. My son recently had the success of the latter earlier this September and I couldn’t have been more proud. Sure, Cole has tagged deer and pronghorn antelope, but to wrap his tag around the antler of a bull elk is an experience worthy of note.
Early on the morning of Cole’s big day, we split up. He headed out in the dark with my good friend Gale Smith, and I went in another direction with North American Hunter-TV producer Lonnie Garland. Hunting in pairs seemed more productive than hunting as a foursome for sharp-eyed elk. By mid-morning, Cole and Gale were on the path toward a series of wallows when bugles started erupting ahead of them. Then, out of nowhere, a cow trotted by oblivious to their presence. Realizing a bull might be in tow, the duo set up and Cole pre-ranged a tree by the trail. Sure enough, a bull emerged 22 yards away and, as it passed Cole—who Gale graciously gave the first shot to—Gale mewed. The bull stopped and Cole put his Mathews Heli-M to work.
Unfortunately, I was on the other side of the mountain, but later that day fate brought us together as we met up on a trail and Cole spilled the tale of taking his first bull. We backtracked and took a load out including the rack so Cole could proudly show it off to his mother and sister. The bull’s 7×7 rack will be a reminder of this experience, but if you want to make sure your child’s “first” is indeed memorable, then take this advice.
1. Bring along a camera. Smartphone cameras are fine for snapshots, but make sure it has enough megapixels to make a quality 8×10 print. This means you should be looking for a camera with at least 6 or 7 megapixels for a great photo. I bought Cole his own camera because he hunts solo so much these days.
2. Clean up the animal. Whether you’re photographing a trophy limit of mallards or your child’s first whitetail doe, show some respect. Smooth out the feathers, wipe off any blood and prop up the animal in a manner that shows your admiration for the animal. If possible, show some background in the photo to add extra memories.
3. Smile. It’s that simple. Nothing irritates me more than people who don’t smile in their trophy photos. This is a special occasion and, if not, then please take up golf and take your serious look to the greens.
4. Celebrate. After the hunt, stop at a diner or maybe even Dairy Queen, but make sure your child understands this is a special occasion. We were in the backcountry, but when we made it back to camp we slammed Mountain Dews and chowed down on Power Bars to top off the day.
Good luck this hunting season, and especially good luck to all you youth hunters out there. I hope you have the opportunity to experience your own “first” this fall!