As I come to the end of another deer season, I reflect back to what I learned from this year’s hunting adventures. It has been an eventful season albeit a slow season in the number of trips afield.

Archery season came and went with only one trip to the woods for an afternoon hunt. I had set my climbing stand on a tree about 45 yards inside the tree line. Out to my left was a very large food plot planted with corn and clover. This food plot, we call it the “big field” has always been productive in the past. As shooting light waned, my hunting partner texted me to see if I had shot anything yet. After I replied a disappointing “no” and was putting my phone back into my pocket, a deer just out of sight saw that movement and decided to vacate that area rather quickly. Lesson learned: even though texting is quieter than talking on the phone, it can still spook deer!

Four weeks later found my oldest son and I in an elevated box blind over the same “big field” for his first youth hunt. As 3 does meandered into the opposite end of the field, some 270 yards away, his first real case of buck fever began. When they closed the distance to 100 yards and showed no sign of coming any closer, he set up for his shot. Deep, slow breaths helped him calm the shakes, but he was still worried about the loud crack of the rifle hurting his ears. No matter how much prodding I gave him, he did not want to shoot without me covering his ears. So his first shot at a deer had me behind him with my hands over his ears. It turned out to be a clean miss. Lesson learned: buy some ear plugs so the shooter can lean into the scope without someone else’s hands over their ears!

First day of muzzleloader season and I am in the double tree stand with my youngest son for his first ever “hunt with dad.” We had practiced sitting still and whispering; the treestand even had camo netting hanging from it to cover most of his movements. Shortly after 7 in the morning, a doe busted us from behind but didn’t run off. After she decided that we were no threat and she went back to feeding, I was able to turn around and get my crosshairs on her. As she was about to step out into an opening where I could shoot her, my son suddenly stood up, uncovered his ears and said, “Daddy!” Somehow the doe knew he wasn’t talking to her because she didn’t stick around to find out what he wanted to say! Lesson learned: 6 year old boys can have the worst timing but we still love them anyway!

The next time he and I were in that same stand, as I trained my gun on another deer, he covered his ears and didn’t even lift up his head to watch. This particular deer did not like the way we looked up in that stand and did not present me with a clean shot. After she ran off and I put my gun down, my son is still sitting there with his ears covered.  I nudged him telling him it was ok to put his hands down and he said, “Did she run away? I didn’t even move this time!” Lesson learned: 6 Year olds are quick learners!

I have had several other deer in my cross hairs this season and still have 2 weeks left before the season officially ends. It has been a great season and certainly one that I will never forget.