This year was the first year Taylor was eligible to hunt. We applied her for the general deer hunt and she drew her second choice rifle tag. We also took advantage of a great new program implemented by the state of Utah called the Youth Mentor Project and Taylor’s grandmother gifted her an antelope tag, which would be her first tag ever. I had a lot of sleepless nights hoping and praying that I could help her have two successful hunts and make them both enjoyable. Not to mention, I think I was a lot more excited than she was for both hunts.
I am truly worried about the future of hunting. With declining animal numbers, increased pressure from anti-hunting groups along with the pressures that are put on our youth these days, it is hard to keep kids involved in the sport of hunting. It is our duty to teach them to respect the sport. We have a lot to do to ensure that our kids will be able to enjoy the sport that we have enjoyed throughout adulthood.
To our dismay, a couple of weeks before the hunt started the buck disappeared and after three more scouting trips I was unable to locate him again. We headed to the unit the day before the hunt and decided we would go after her second choice instead. The last evening before the hunt I decided to look one last time for her first-choice buck, and as luck would have it, I found him a couple miles north of where I had first located him on my first scouting trip. Six in the morning could not come fast enough. We left camp well before light, and as the sun crested the mountains to our east, we located the buck and his herd of does. We quickly stalked into position, but due to the terrain we were unable to get a shot. At one point we had a few does within 5 yards of us, the expression on Taylor’s face was priceless. Eventually, the herd spooked and moved north. Over the next couple of hours we moved with the herd but were never able to get a shot.
Celebrating after harvesting her first big game animal.
To say I was relieved would be an understatement. I will never forget the moment we walked up on her buck.