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Bowhunting Can Be Tough On a Kid
My son loves hunting. Not unlike many of us, getting that first big game kill with a bow has been a big hurdle that sometimes seems like it may never happen. He got a doe with the rifle which was great. I shoot trad gear and he started with that as a little guy. When he was 11 he wanted to try a compound and I got him all set up.
On his own, he decided to stick with trad gear for a bit. He had a mountain deer tag when he was 12 but we didn't have much action. His first real opportunity came last year when he was 13. I set up a 2 stand set-up in a good spot for whitetails on the plains that we both drew tags for. His first opportunity was a nice doe. He did everything right and she simply ducked the arrow. Later in the hunt a small buck came in and in the heat of the moment he completely tuned out the branch in the way of the vitals. I was whispering to wait but with all the warm head gear on, he didn't hear me. Another accurate shot but dead center on the branch and the buck walked away having no idea.
So close. I guessed maybe the longbow would get benched this year but he decided to try another season with it. He puts in his time and is a good shot. The running joke with some of my friends goes something like this: "Wow, he has great form. Who taught him?" Real funny.
This year has been totally screwed up. We had elk tags and wild fires closed basically our whole unit. He did get to sit a stand at a water hole a bit on a small chunk of private and had some deer and a bobcat under him but no elk. Throw in the Covid restrictions with school and hockey and things have been a mess. We drew deer tags out east again but schedules were tight and it looked like a 2 day hunt might be all we could squeeze in. He won his hockey game (season is on but a ton of rules and restrictions for Covid) and we hit the road. Grabbed a room at a cheapo hotel and got a few hours of sleep.
Unfortunately, the wind was crazy and didn't let up all night. I might have passed on hunting but we were short on time so we decided to give it a try. We got in the stand and I cinched him up a little tighter to the tree than normal because the wind was swaying us a bit. A small muley buck cruised through out of range. 20 minutes later, two does appeared about 60 yards away feeding and giving off the vibe that they were likely about to bed. He was ready if they drifted our way. We couldn't hear much due to the wind and two bucks came trotting in from behind us as we were focused on the does. They were almost under us before we knew they were there. I actually only saw one right below us (small 3x3) and I gave him the green light. He started to draw and I realized he was on another buck 17 yards away. This buck was slightly quartering towards us and I would have waived him off if we were on the same page but it all happened fast and the arrow was on its way.
The hit looked pretty far forward (bad sign). The buck did a rodeo kick (sometimes a good sign) and ran off with way too much arrow showing. We went through getting a good mark on where we saw him last and I started explaining that what we know so far isn't great but we will wait a bit and take a look. He's excited and worried. We wait 30 minutes and get down. At the hit location there is no blood. Its sandy and covered in tracks but fairly easy to see where he went and it matches where we marked last seeing him. Wind is still going strong.
We start picking up a little blood and its enough to follow. I'm explaining what the splatter tells us and his tracks as we go. We find his arrow broken off about 30 yards from the hit. I have him compare it to a good arrow and we guess about 4"-5" broke off and maybe total penetration was a bit more. I'm confident in his 45# bow and 2 blade head through the ribs but up on the shoulder not so much. I can see his excitement turning to disappointment. We still have a trail so we start slowly picking away at it. The wind blowing all the leaves during the time we waited isn't helping. Missed shots, mistakes and uncertain outcomes are part of bowhunting. He's done his part with practice and knowing anatomy but he's only 14 and trying to kill a deer with a longbow. I'm questioning my guidance on the whole deal about as much as I'm questioning the chances that we ever get closure on this bloodtrail. I've followed many similar ones from similar hits over the years.
We get to the edge of a dry riverbed channel and I'm sorting out a spot where the trail isn't obvious but we were having enough blood that refinding it shouldn't be an issue even if he changed directions. I told him earlier to be knocked and ready in case we come up on him alive. My son loudly whispers "Dad!". As I glance up at him he's focused and starting to put a little tension on the string. My instant thought, as I am turning to where he's looking, is we just jumped the buck and being alive this long with a forward hit isn't good news.
Well, he's actually looking at his buck deader than a door nail 50 yards out in the dry riverbed. Turns out he hit just in front of the scapula, caught a little lung, cut the aorta off the top of the heart and hit the offside humerus. The broken arrow tip was inside. The "too much arrow sticking out" we saw was after it had came back a bit from hitting the offside.
We high fived, hugged, worked out a few emotions and got to work. Yes, bowhunting can be tough on a kid (and a Dad) but of course all the "tough" parts of bowhunting are part of what makes bowhunting great when things work out. We loaded up his deer along with a few lessons and pointed the truck towards home.
Awesome awesome awesome Don, way to get your boy out there. My oldest is 6 and I'm counting the days until he is out in the field with some sort of stick and string in his hands.
That’s a great story with an even greater ending ! Bowhunting can be tough on anybody, but even tougher on a kid. That he stuck with it, and a longbow at that, says something about his dedication and his raising. Kudos to both of you !
So cool for you both. The title of your thread had me worried but the outcome is rather common with persistence. It’s gonna be hard and that’s why we love it.
My son shoots both traditional and compound very well and enjoys both. I hope you have many more great hunts.
What a great read!!
Good luck, Robb
That is so cool. Congrats to the young man and dad. What’s the bow setup.
Congratulations to the both of you and a great read
Nice buck ! Great job to you both!
Outstanding glunt, congrats to you both. You're a great dad.
Awesome! Congrats to your son on his first bow kill. Doing it with trad gear is quite a feat, as well! I’m betting you and your son will never forget that day and it will bring a smile to your faces every time you think about it.
Great accomplishments for both of you. Good jobs!
Congratulations, great story and very nice pictures.
Holy crap! You guys are studs! I can't say I know any kids going at it with trad gear. That is super impressive. You should both be very proud. Tremendous all around.
Can you tell us what his setup is? How heavy bow/arrow?
Great story. Huge congrats to you and your son.
Awesome! My 34 year old daughter is trying this year. With 4 kids it is hard to get her out.
I needed to smile this morning and your son's success and your story brought that along. Nicely done by both. My best, Paul
Congrats to you both. Great memories right there.
Awesome and congrats to both of you.
Congrats to the boy (and you), that's awesome!
Congrats to you both. My greatest hunting memory is my son's first bow kill. You will never forget it.
"How heavy bow/arrow?"
Its a 45# @28" Fleetwood Timber Ridge. He's probably 42# at his draw length. Gold Tip Velocity arrows with a 160gr Zwickey Eskimo 2 blade.
Great job to both of you. Cool picture and the smile says it all.
Awesome story! I cannot wait to take my grandson bowhunting.
A friend PM'd me about the knife and if there was a story with it. Thats a custom made by Wayne Depperschmidt. He's a very accomplished traditional bowhunter that many of the Colorado guys know, a good friend and hunting buddy. Wayne and another buddy gave Ryan that knife for his Christening. For years it stayed tucked away. When Ryan was 5 or 6 we showed it to him and explained the story. Every once in a while for the next few years Ryan would ask "Can we get my knife out and look at it?". Eventually, when he was ready, it went from being tucked away to being strapped on his belt or pack. Getting to send a pic to a mentor and tell him the story was a lot of fun for Ryan.
Great store about the hunt and the knife! Enjoy the time with him. The grow up fast. JimH
Great picture you need that one framed and hanging. I like the way you are raising your son, well played.
God bless and stay safe.
Excellent...a big Congrats to Ryan!
What a great story and well deserved..
Wayne makes awesome knifes. I have one my wife got me for a birthday present. Here it is in use on a special hunt.
Fantastic! I'm sure you both will remember that for a long time!
Congratulations to you both... way to stick with it.
Sweet that's awesome! Tell that young man congrats.
Congrats to you and your son and his perseverance! I'm thrilled for you both.
That story bright a huge smile to my face! Congrats to you both- simply outstanding!
Awesome Glunt! Congrats to both you and your son!
For those of you who might not know Don Ward, aka Glunt.......Don Ward is one of the most laid back, friendliest, easy goin' guys you would ever want to meet. And, extremely dedicated to the sport. He and his family live up here in north central Colorado, and he has been an active member of our local club, the Big Thompson Bowhunters. Many years ago, Don and Fred Eichler were partners in Full Draw Outfitters. At some point in time, maybe 20 years ago, Don left Full Draw, but the two remain good friends.
Don also has a daughter, and both of those kids regularly shoot at our local range. That Ryan.....well, he IS a "chip off the ole block." Two great kids from a great family.
Im sure glad I read this, and that there are men like you raising men like him! Congrats to you both and enjoy the years of memories to come!
and a young bow hunter became a man
congrats, very good read...
Heres Ryan sampling LeatherneckGrandpa's chili at the local 3D shoot. Seems like a couple years ago but more like 9 or 10.
That was great, congratulations to your son Glunt!
Great story and pictures! Congrats to both of you!
Great job by the both of you! I really appreciate stories like these thanks!
Awesome! A buck with a longbow is something a very small percentage of the population have ever accomplished. You both should be very proud!
Chiming back in just to say that the story of the knife as well as Leatherneck’s background just confirms what I already thought. Glunt, you’re doing a helluva job and your son is too.
Outstanding! Thanks for passing it on!
Congrats on a memorable hunt! Very cool to be able to share that moment with your son!
Congratulations to Ryan! Thanks for the story and photos and with sharing the hunt with us. Happy for your special relationship! Many more memories to be made!
Congrats to both of you. A lot of lessons learned in a short time, ones that will last him a life time. Love that you both stuck with it in all aspects and didn’t let the tough circumstances get you down!
What a great story. Grats to you both.
Congrats to both of you. Great stuff!!
Congrats Ryan and dad! Memories to last a lifetime!
This put a big ol' smile on my face this morning. Congratulations to you both.
Awesome work with a longbow- congrats!
Awesome, awesome, awesome. Thanks for the story. Really enjoyed it! He plays hockey and hunts with a stick bow, must be a great kid!!
Don, great story! Tell Ryan congratulations from the Hansen clan. So happy for him and what a beautiful buck!
Awesome!! "Worked out a few emotions" Love that line. To this day my oldest son still reminds me that the only time he has seen me cry was when he killed his first deer.
Since we are bringing up some good hunts to the top I figured I would send this one. Short, but still my favorite day of bowhunting.
Don't know how I missed this one, Glunt... Awesome Boy, awesome Story!
That's awesome! Thanks for sharing this.
Another good one that I had missed. Thanks for bumping it up. Belated congratulations to you both.
It was just as good the second time around Glunt !
Thats awesome. Congrats to your son for hanging in there….I know grown men that bailed on Trad archery.
Sorry I didn't see this thread sooner. Great story and photos, thanks!
Not sure how I missed this-- congrats! That's sweet!
Not sure how I missed this one, Don!
Hell of a hunt and one that I am sure Ryan will remember vividly for the rest of his life! Congratulations!
Thanks for posting! Brought a big smile!
Love this! Good stuff, Don!