Elk and Deer hunting with 10 and 12 yr old

spdrman

WKR
Joined
Dec 3, 2012
Messages
444
Last couple years I've thought I'd never be able to top that year with my boys and yet my boys keep doing it.

We had high hopes for archery antelope season, spent around 15 days in the blind with the boys hoping they'd get a chance at a nice antelope, Hunter (my 12 yr old) passed up a couple does opening morning and that was the only antelope he had come in all season. Talen (my 10 yr old and his first year hunting big game) had a lot of uneventful days. Decided to pull him out of school the last day of the season to give him one last chance. To my surprise when the sun came up there was antelope in the distance short time later a nice buck worked it's way to the water only 15 yards away. He came and watered quartering to us, had Talen draw when his head was down so he wouldn't catch movement and as soon as he turned broadside take the shot, Talen was calm as could be tell the buck turned and then his whole body started shaking and he let the arrow loose, he's a great shot but missed that buck by several feet. He then asked what was wrong with him as he was shaking so bad he was struggling standing up, I told him that's called buck fever and the excitement we all look for while hunting, trick is learning to control it so you don't miss next time but we'll take a clean miss over a bad hit.

Both boys had extra whitetail tags and were dead set on notching tags with their bows. So I decided to skip archery elk season and try and get them whitetails with their bows. The only deer that came within bow range were wet does, they elected to pass on those so their fawns had a better chance of surviving. It was a any weapon tag so the last weekend we had set aside to go they decided to pull out the 260 and notch their tags. Hunter spotted these deer over a mile away midday, we snuck in range and waited about an hour for them to stand out of their beds. Talen made a perfect shot on his first deer and it only went a short distance, the other deer weren't sure what was going on and went to check on the one Talen shot. Hunter got behind the tag and was able to get his only feet apart.

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A few days after this I welcomed my 4th child and 2nd daughter into the world, we enjoyed her for several days and then Hunter and I loaded up and took off for general deer season.

Opening morning started off slow with not much for deer, Hunter was a few feet away with his bino's on a tripod and whispered "dad, I found a buck..... I think it's a 4 pt, it is a 4 pt, holy cow it's a huge 4pt!!!" With this only being his second year hunting mule deer I figured it was just a decent 4pt that he thought was huge, he grabbed the spotter and got it on the buck, I was shocked with the caliber of buck I was looking at. There was a couple other great 4 pts with him as well. My buddy also had his deer at camp, we all agreed before going to camp that his son would get the first shot at a 4 pt we found since Hunter shot a nice 4pt last year we needed to get his son one this year. I talked to Hunter and told him we needed to get Connor over here and with our suppressed rifles there's a great chance we they could double up on 2 great 4 pts. The deer where in a spot I didn't think anyone else could see unless they where on the same point I was on. While Connor was working his way towards us some other Hunter's started shooting at the bucks from way out side of their effective range, I'm not sure how many times they shot but I do know they didn't hit any of the deer and we where never able to turn them up again.

Next couple days where slow but we where finally able to get Connor a nice 3x4. The last evening Hunter could hunt we spotted some bucks way to far away to go after that night but didn't think they'd go far and would have a good chance that next morning if we got there early. As the sun was coming up the next morning we got eyes on the bucks fairly quick, then we spent the next couple hours playing cat and mouse as they working through the trees trying to find Hunter and opening to shoot through. The bucks stopped to spar a little bit and that was the chance Hunter needed to make a great shot on this buck.

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After this we switched our focus to a elk tag Hunter was lucky enough to draw, turns out it wasn't as good of a hunt as I thought it would be. We had multiple trips without putting eyes on any elk. We where running out of time before Talen's tags opened. Decided to go give it one last try, on the way back to the truck I was staring at something that was the color of elk but I thought there was no way, as we where walking it looked like it moved, I pulled up my binos and to my surprise there was a lone bull. We used the little cover we had and got Hunter with in range and he was able to make a great shot on the one and only elk we put eyes on that entire hunt.
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Now it was the time to get after the 2 hunts I was looking forward to the most that year, Talen was lucky enough to get a good bull tag and an incredible buck tag for the month of Nov. While this sounded awesome I was also stressing about it, I wasn't sure where to put our efforts, originally I wanted to just focus on deer, once he got a buck killed go try and find an elk. Talen didn't like that idea and wanted dedicated time for elk too. We decided the first weekend we'd hunt elk, if he wasn't able to kill one that weekend the focus would be deer. If he tagged out on deer we'd go back and try again for his elk.

First couple days of his elk hunt didn't produce any elk. We decided to pack up and drive to the other side of the unit, right before dark we spotted a big herd of elk with several good bulls in the group. They were a couple miles away so we made a plan for the next morning, 2 hour in the dark the following morning got us right where we needed to be, we had elk within 300 yards of us but all the bulls where 600 plus yards away, my boys spend a lot of time shooting long range but with the wind we had I didn't feel comfortable with him taking that shot and we were pinned down in the wide open.
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There was some snow flurries blowing through with the wind and after awhile a white of of snow moved in and cut visibility to less than 50 yards, told the boys this was the time to move, we grabbed the gear and rushed to get into range before the snow lifted. We got right to where we wanted to be crested the ridge and the elk were feeding right where I hoped they'd be, got a solid range on the bull, Talen did a few dry fires to make sure he was solid on him from his shooting position, told him to chamber a round and whenever he was comfortable send it. I've always told my boys you shoot elk tell they go down and he put a couple well placed shots into his first elk.
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My inreach lied and said the weather was supposed to clear up that afternoon, the snow never let up and got worse throughout the day, was worried I pushed my boys too far, they where starting to get cold and wet sage brush doesn't work well to build a fire, we got the bull deboned and in game bags, told the boys I'd carry what meat I could and we'd come back the next day for the rest. Took several hours to get back to the truck and boys were exhausted. Had several great friends reach out and offer to come get the rest of the elk the next day. Sun was shining, no winds, boys needed that. Talen told me while I was deboning his bull that he probably shouldn't have shot it. Told him not to think like that tell we get it back home and see how he feels. When we finally got the bull to the truck the following day he told me it really wasn't bad and he'd totally do it again. That was a huge relief for me.

My buddy Tanner was able to capture this awesome pics of my boys and myself, this is getting framed and put on the wall.
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spdrman

spdrman

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Dec 3, 2012
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444
Ran out of attachments....

Now to the hunt I was looking forward to the most this year, late mule deer during the rut, I've never had a tag like this and I spent all summer explaining to Talen how special this tag was. I dedicated the second weekend of November and as well as the 16-30 of the month to this tag, told him we had plenty of time and who knows if he'd ever have an opportunity like this again. Being the his first year hunting it was hard saying he should pass on deer but told him we should look for something special, with the 2022 winter kill I was a little worried what kind of deer numbers we'd see. Well our first evening out we spotted several good bucks and one that was hard to tell him to pass on.
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The boys where keeping track and over the course of the hunt they guess we put eyes on around 100 bucks that had 4 pts on one side. We found several great bucks throughout the course of the hunt. Talen would always ask should I shoot him or do you think we could find a better one, my answer was always the same, I think we can do better but the choice is yours if you want to shoot him. He passed on some bucks that really surprised me. I told him during general hunts we'd never pass bucks like he was passing.
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I finally asked him what kind of buck he was looking for. His reply was "I'm not sure, I'll know when I see him"


We Finally turned up a buck with a massive frame, bigger frame than anything we'd seen, but fronts weren't great and he didn't have eye guards. I told Talen if he was ready to pull the trigger this is probably the one. He watched him chase his does for about 30 minutes and opted to pass on the buck because he didn't have eye guards, I was floored that a 10 yr old would pass a buck like that but after seeing close to 100 good bucks he had his mind made up on what he wanted.
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We moved on and went and found some more deer. That afternoon Talen told me he's been thinking a lot about that buck from this morning, said he knew it wasn't the best scoring buck we've found but he liked the look of the big frame compared to all the other bucks we've looked at. Asked if it was ok to go look for him. Told him it's his tag and if that's the buck he wanted lets go find him.

We make it back over to the draw and I was getting a little worried for a minute, 3 other good bucks moved into the canyon and we couldn't find the big one. A few minutes later Hunter whispers "found him". He was chasing a doe in sage brush taller than he was and kept popping in and out of it, got Talen set up behind the gun but he could never get a clean shot through all the brush, the buck was within 300 yards and wouldnt stop in an opening. He started pushing the doe up the hill towards us, so I pulled the spotter off the tripod and got the gun on there to get him set up for a standing shot. He pushed the doe faster than we got ready, went to move and the buck was within 40 yards of us, caught our movement and bolted. I got Talen pointed across the canyon where the buck was headed and told him if he stopped broadside and he was solid take the shot. Well all summer shooting ground squirrels standing off that tripod that summer really paid off, the buck stopped at 280 yards to look back and Talen made a perfect shot on him and dropped him in his tracks
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Joined
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great job Dad! hunting with kids is awesome, and increases the difficulty by at least a factor of 10. well done, congrats to you and your kids.
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2022
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My son is 11 and lives and breathes all things hunting/ outdoors. Ive been able to take him on a few trips and there is no doubt that my chances of success are lowered with him. However, I think about all the skills hes picking up at a young age, and how that is likely to compound over the next few years. I have no doubt that in the future, Im going yo have more opportunities BECAUSE hes there and has become more skilled than me! I feel guilty when I go out without him now, and we've gotten several letters from the school about absences adding up! Im convinced hes gonna learn so much more about life with me on a mountain than behind a desk at school though Kudos to all you Dads taking your kids out early and often!
 

CMF

WKR
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May 8, 2019
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Mississippi
Man, those are some awesome stories and hunts, and great pictures to go with them!
He then asked what was wrong with him as he was shaking so bad he was struggling standing up, I told him that's called buck fever and the excitement we all look for while hunting,
I remember one of my boys seeing a whitetail buck through the rifle scope for the first time. I told him "a deer is out there, get ready". As soon as he put his eye up to the scope he saw the horns, he started breathing heavy, and said "that's a buck!". He couldn't get it together before the buck moved off the opening we were hunting. I said "yep, that's buck fever" welcome to hunting. That experience was probably more memorable than the doe he took later that evening.
 
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spdrman

spdrman

WKR
Joined
Dec 3, 2012
Messages
444
Thanks everyone for the kind words!

Man, those are some awesome stories and hunts, and great pictures to go with them!

I remember one of my boys seeing a whitetail buck through the rifle scope for the first time. I told him "a deer is out there, get ready". As soon as he put his eye up to the scope he saw the horns, he started breathing heavy, and said "that's a buck!". He couldn't get it together before the buck moved off the opening we were hunting. I said "yep, that's buck fever" welcome to hunting. That experience was probably more memorable than the doe he took later that evening.
I can't remember the last time I got the buck fever shakes for myself, crazy though I get it now watching my kids, I enjoy watching them not tags way more than notching my own.
 

MarkOrtiz

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Dec 24, 2022
Messages
144
Location
Minden, NV
Great job and great pictures! I just had my first big game hunt with my daughter at 14 and my son (12) will hopefully draw some tags soon. I have a great time out with them in the wilderness. Always great memories!
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2021
Messages
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This is so impressive to get it done like that with your boys! I have an 8 year old and hope 4 year old and hope we can find some success like that in a few years!
 
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