By Kiley T. Phillips
On Nov. 15, my son asked me as soon as I picked him up from school if we could go hunting. I told him we were going to eat supper soon as we got home and if we had time we will go. After we ate an early supper it was 4:30 p.m. and even though we would be running late, we got dressed to go knowing that we would spook some deer going to the deer stand. My hopes weren’t that high, but to Riley it didn’t matter, he just wanted to hunt.
In the past few weeks we had been trying to get Riley a chance at a nice buck, but never could get an opportunity. He had already let a few young bucks walk hoping to get a chance at an 8-point we said was his deer. Riley even got to see his buck on two other hunts, but wasn’t able to get a shot. When we were on our way to the deer stand, we noticed a few deer running close to where we were going to hunt. All we could do was just keep going and get in our spot to get situated.
At 5 p.m. Riley and I were getting settled in our box stand that is placed between a bedding area and a known feeding area that we knew the deer traveled in the afternoons. We had just loaded his 300 blackout rifle and got him comfortable so he could see out all windows. I was getting my binoculars out of my bag when Riley said, “There’s my deer!”
When I looked up, I knew this was a much bigger deer that was going to be a deer of a lifetime for him. He was a mature 10-point about 300 yards away and walking towards us. At that moment, I realized that I had my video camera in my bag so I put down my binoculars and started videotaping the deer. As the deer got about 200 yards from us, he turned to our left and started walking into some thick brush. As soon as he was out of sight, I blew a deep grunt from my grunt call.
After I grunted, I immediately reached for my rattling horns, but as soon as I grabbed them Riley said, “He’s coming back out!” The buck was at 200 yards and walking towards us. I could tell that the deer’s body posture was different. His ears were focused on our direction but he was walking from one side of the lane to the other trying to figure out the location of the deer he heard.
I was quietly telling Riley to concentrate on his shooting fundamentals and trigger pull as the deer was within 150 yards. He was on the right side of our lane and turned to left side walking and stopping. I asked Riley if he had the crosshairs right behind the shoulder. He said, “Yes sir.” I then told him to start slowly squeezing the trigger.
When Riley shot the deer at 5:30 p.m. that day, the buck fell right where he stood. I instantly yelled, “BOY YOU GOT HIM!!”
After we celebrated in the stand together, we immediately called my wife. Riley couldn’t wait to tell his mom he killed his monster. Her immediate response was, “I’ll be there in 5 minutes!” Not only did she know she had to go get the tractor with a front end loader to pick his big body up, but she truly finds joy in all of our children’s successes. To Riley, this was the World Series and he just won. We took the opportunity while the deer was still on the ground to take pictures of him with his trophy and I didn’t realize his size until Riley’s 8-year-old body was sitting beside it.
As a dad, this I what I live for, my children working hard to achieve a goal and being behind them supporting them as they do so, then seeing their sheer joy when they get it. We loaded the deer in the tractor and as I rode behind the tractor on the four-wheeler, Riley and his mom carried his prize home.
The grin on Riley’s face and the laughter I could hear coming from the tractor let me know he was already telling his hunting story and his mom was his first one to get to hear it. We got the buck to the shop and put him on the scales. He weighed 221 pounds. We celebrated again as a family with his older brother and his little sister, took lots of pictures, then thanked the good Lord for this blessing.
Following in his older brothers footsteps, Riley wanted to get a trophy buck just like him. Brock killed a large, mature 8-point during the youth hunt in October. Both of their deer have been sent to the taxidermist and the whole family is excited to hang them on the wall, but most importantly, we will have these memories forever.
An 8-year-old was looking for his World Series, and with hard work and determination he got it. As a parent there is no greater joy.