Written by Zac Hoenes, HuntersLink.com Pro Staff
Well to quote a great TV character, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
I’m smiling ear to ear this morning, I just can’t quit no matter how hard I try. This weekend was Missouri youth season and my daughter Alyssa was up for her first deer hunt. We practiced most of the summer on regular targets and deer targets, with solid sand bag rests and marginal rests, standing or leaning over a backpack trying to give my 8 year old enough experience to be confident at “go time.” It definitely paid off.
This weekend, MO youth season was to be our “break.” After getting some Saturday morning activities accomplished we headed to the North Missouri farm for the afternoon hunt. Anticipation was high but deer sightings were zero, so after a nice evening with family, Alyssa and I headed back to the box blind at 5:30 am the next morning (extra hour of sleep for the time change… I don’t think so!). It was a chilly 32 degrees and Alyssa was getting cold around shooting time. At 6:25 am I was filming some shots inside the blind. I was watching her trying to stay warm, her Savage Axis .223 Rem leaning against a corner etc, when I saw, in the viewfinder, a deer step into the food plot. I hurriedly retrieved the gun from the corner and had Alyssa get ready. The deer spotted or heard something and locked on us. We held still for several minutes (nearly 3:45 according to video). The doe went back to eating soybeans giving us the opportunity to get the gun settled and Alyssa to lock in. I sat back down in my chair to focus on filming and kicked the tripod! Nice job DAD!! Thankfully, the noise was much louder on video and in the blind than outside as the deer only looked for a moment before settling back down. She began to walk away but I knew she would stop again.
As the doe turned at around 55 yards, I whistled stopping her in her tracks. As if posing for a portrait she stood broadside as Alyssa prepared to shoot. A few seconds later Alyssa was settled in, and let the Savage rip sending the Sierra 65 gr. GameKing #1395 toward the ribcage of the doe. After an incredibly excited and emotional reaction we reviewed the footage. It showed a center mass hit to the deer which bolted immediately toward the river that runs the northern border of our property. After 15-20 minutes we climbed down to look for a blood trail. We found no blood initially but had a good starting point as we found the tracks where the doe wheeled and ran at the shot. Over the years, several deer taken in this area had run toward this river bed, so I had a good idea where to look.
With a .223 caliber that offers little to no recoil to a young shooter, this is the reality. You may not get an exit wound, and thus the blood trail is likely to be negligible, but the caliber itself has plenty of power to take down a whitetail with a well placed shot. Avoiding shoulder blades and a well-built bullet is a must to ensure penetration. We worked hard on shot placement all summer. But to assist further, I chose a Sierra 65 gr. GameKing #1395 bullet for this job. Sierra’s bullets have a reputation for holding together even at higher velocities. Most of the choices in .223 are violent expansion bullets designed to shatter on impact. While this may indeed produce tissue damage to kill a white-tailed deer, I was more interested in ensuring penetration and focusing Alyssa’s efforts accurately.
As we started looking deeper into the river bottom for blood, Alyssa was getting a little worried, but I assured her that the video showed she had made a good shot. Undeterred she kept looking. It was at this moment I spotted the doe, expired right at the edge the river cut bank. I was able to keep it together long enough to get my camera rolling, then asked Alyssa to walk ahead and say something to the camera. I pointed her in the direction of the deer and of course she found it, and was quite pleased and excited. As she sat behind her first deer, in the amazing morning light, trying to tell me what had just happened I couldn’t help but get emotional myself. Snapping pictures and doing interviews we were both as happy as two people can be, a perfect moment in time.
Her doe had piled up less than 45 yards from the shot, a testament to the performance of the bullet and Alyssa’s shot placement. The bullet impact was in the rear ribcage and with a slightly quartering away angle, the bullet was found lodged in tissue on the opposite side of the body about halfway up the ribcage. This shot got liver, diaphragm, and the off lung, proving to be a clean and quick kill which made the moment even better.
A huge thanks to my mom and dad for working so hard to develop our family property. The work they have put in, planting many acres of native grasses, nearly 8,000 trees for a reforestation, and multiple food plots, have really paid off in a big way over the years. We couldn’t have done it without you!
I feel so lucky to be the parent of two great kids, a husband to a wonderful wife, son to some great parents, and a member of the greatest fraternity on earth, hunters and outdoorsmen. Days like this are what all of our dreams are made of. If I never hunt another day in my life, I will have a lifelong memory of November 3, 2013. It is my hope that each of you get to experience this joy in mass quantities.
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