"Don't Say My Kid Can't Shoot . . . "
by William E. Allendorf
Faulty Towers is the first of two 150 year old barns that lie between the house and our new hunting blind. It got its name from the partially collapsed north wall, giving it a rather jaunty if not wholly eccentric look.Over the past couple of years, We have modified the walls to provide several blinds. Two overlook a pasture slowly being consumed by young cedars, a prime bedding area. Another overlooks a tree line, and if you are brave enough to sit under the collapsed roof, you have a protected view of a massive white oak, and all the paths leading to it.
The previous night, #2 son and I were at another blind and a herd of 6 does came out of the bedding area and came up towards Faulty Towers. They were over 300 yards away--no shot was possible, but they made for an hour of excitement as we watched them loiter for a while around a cattle pond and then move into the woods. We vowed to come out to Faulty Towers to catch them as they came out to browse in the morning.
John is in his second season of deer hunting. At 11, he's a fairly decent shot and a motivated young hunter. His main fault is his tendency to fall asleep in the blind. Is isn't the sleeping as much as the snoring, which sounds a bit like gut-shot hog or a chainsaw in heat.
Late Youth Season was a bonus the Kentucky DWNR gave us this year-two extra days of rifle hunting for kids under 16, no license required. John had missed the early season, and it had been a lousy modern weapons season for him. This was his last chance for a deer.
We checked into Faulty Towers just before first light, we chose the venue that gave us the best view of the bedding area. In five minutes, John was sound asleep and killing hogs with a chain saw. I kept trying to wake him up, but it was a losing battle. In between the bouts of snoring, I could hear the sounds of deer walking past in the dark; their hooves were making a crisp crunching on the frozen grass. It was still too dark to see. When the sun finally made it far enough up that we could see, the deer had moved away.
After about half an hour, I got up to stretch and move around in the barn. Peering out through the cracks, I saw a doe come out some tall grass in the pasture between the barns, and stand broadside to me at 80 yards. I called to John and had him bring over his 30-30 Marlin. John saw the deer just as it turned towards us and stood giving nothing more than a brisket shot. He carefully poked the barrel out through a crack and got a good stance, as I moved in behind him to spot. I was just about ready to tell John to be patient and wait for a good broadside shot when the gun went off.
The doe whirled around and did an athletic leap into the air. Her white flag joined several others bounding down the hill and the whole herd disappeared into the mature cedars below. John was sure of his shot, however. So we set about looking for sign.
We searched a wide swath between the tree line and where the doe had been standing. There was plenty of sign, but no blood. This looked like one of those all-day affairs, hunting up and down a steep ravine for a wounded doe. John, decided he needed to go back and retrace the shot, to better pinpoint the exact spot. He went to the barn and called to me.
"Come here, Dad." He said, "I know what happened."
"Can you tell me?" I answered.
"No, it's easier if I show you."
I trudged back to the barn. John pointed to a board I'd nailed up between two trees, forming the top rail of a blind I'd built beside the barn. About and inch from the top was a fresh bullet hole. John had just learned the concept of parallax. He'd been shooting at the doe from inside the barn, just over the rail. He couldn't see the rail in his scope, but at 10 feet away the barrel was pointing right at it.
Oh well, finding the bullet hole saved us a day of slogging it out in the ravine. There are worse trophies to be had in this world. John may sleep a lot on the blind, but going back to check every detail of the shot was an astute move. We had a good laugh over it and headed back in.
One thing is for sure: if anyone ever says my kid can't hit the broad side of a barn standing in it, he can just take him to this website and prove them wrong.
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