My Son’s First Deer

As most of you know, Coyote Hill is located on acres and acres of wooded, rural Missouri hillsides. This month it became a young wanna-be-hunter’s dream come true.

Home Parent Dad in the Petersheim Home, Josh McCaskey, loves the great outdoors. Since coming on staff at Coyote Hill last year, he’s enjoyed the opportunity to learn and develop his hunting skills with a bow and a rifle. Much more than that, however, he’s been sharing and teaching the skill to several youth at Coyote Hill. Each deer and turkey season, he shares the experience with any child who wants to learn.

youth deer season 2018 | coyotehill.org
2018 Youth Deer Season

Youth deer season occurred on the first weekend of November. Josh had been preparing and practicing with one of our 10-year-old boys, Gary*, for the big event. Josh shares:

I planned to take Gary and one of our teens, Charlie*, out on opening morning. Charlie is too old to hunt during youth season, but he was excited to come along and see how it went, since he’ll be getting his opportunity during regular deer season.

Gary was super-excited. He barely got any sleep the night before. The three of us slept in the basement where we wouldn’t disturb the rest of the home when we got up and out of there before daybreak the next morning. I have a blind (small shed) all set up, large enough for the three of us to go sit and wait for the deer. Gary, like most 10 year olds would be, was very impatient. After almost 30 minutes of his wiggling, twitching, bumping the sides of the blind and sighing, I told him we could just go back to the house if he was tired of hunting.

“No, no, no! I’m good – I wanna stay here.”

hunting blind at Coyote Hill | coyotehill.org
The hunting blind/shed

At that point I told the boys I would try “calling” in a deer with my deer call. Nope, I don’t really know how to speak “deer”…but I’ve been practicing some and thought I would try making the sound of a doe, or another buck, and see if that would bring a buck our direction. I hadn’t been at it very long when I saw a couple of young bucks coming through the woods towards the clearing. Neither boy had spotted them yet, but it didn’t take long before Charlie got SUPER excited and started shaking all over.

“Mr. Josh! Mr. Josh!!! That’s a deer!”

I did the deer call a bit more. One deer moved out into the open and kept coming towards us. I told Gary he had to be ready before the deer got TOO close, instructing him to get the rifle in position, take off the safety, and then I would make a noise and the deer would stop moving and he’d be able to take a shot. The deer was almost within 20 yards of us!

I quit calling, made an abrupt noise that made the deer stop in it’s tracks, and assumed Gary would shoot. But nothing happened.

“Shoot it, Gary. Gary, shoot!” I knew the deer would soon bolt back into the woods if he didn’t shoot quickly. Then I asked, “Dude, did you take the safety off?”

“Oh, no!” He quickly remedied that, took aim again, and shot. It was a perfect, clean shot…right where it needed to be to kill the deer very quickly and ethically. I had taught him that you should never run up to a deer right away after you shoot, even if you know it it was a good shot. We had to move with caution and make sure it really was dead. We waited long enough that I knew it was time, but he still wanted to use his hunter safety training and not approach quickly. In fact, he started crawling slowly on all fours towards it. I told him it was ok, the deer was dead and we could walk over to it now, but he kept reminding me, “But Mr. Josh, we have to be careful!”

boy with his first deer | coyotehill.org
Unlike regular deer season, there are no antler restrictions during youth season.
Gary was very proud of his harvest!

We finally made it over to his deer. It was a nice young buck. The lessons continued as I got to teach him how to butcher his own deer at home. We fried up some of the heart and back strap for supper that night and everyone in our home loved it (except maybe my wife!) Lastly, I made my first attempt at a European Mount for him. I messed up the nose a bit but it looks pretty cool. We included the 243 bullet casing that he shot and mounted it on a piece of wood from a tree on the property. 

I have not been a deer hunter for very long. This is only my third season. I still have a lot to learn, but it has been really fun. Getting the opportunity to bring along young ones with me makes it even better. God has blessed us with this beautiful world, this awesome place, and all the creatures in it. I am thankful every day for all the blessings I have. I am really proud of this guy for taking his first deer, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to get out and have this experience with him!

~~Josh McCaskey

*Boys’ names changed for sake of confidentiality