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December 2008 will be the first year in my hunting career(33 years)that didn’t find me in the woods of Pennsylvania for opening day of deer season. Now that my son is hunting with me it was getting cost prohibitive for us to continue to go to Pa. for at best, 2 days of hunting. My main reason for going had been to spend time in the woods with my dad, who is in his mid 70’s by now. After discussing it with him we concluded that it didn’t matter as much where we hunted, but being together that was important. So my brother and I bought dads Ohio license and I went in & brought him to Ohio for Thanksgiving and to hunt the following week.

Monday, Dec. 1st found us (myself, my son Clayton, my brother Wayne, and our dad Clayton) in Meigs county on Wayne’s property. We were joined by the properties co-owner, Marlin Troyer, and his brother in law Rodney Yoder. The first day had a threat of rain, so the two Claytons chose to stay in the mini barn & watch the front area of the property. Wayne went to the top ridge where we had been seeing a big buck since bow season, I went to the “moss rock”, Rodney went to the stand by the lower food plot, and Marlin went to his stand by the caves. I was expecting great things, figuring the neighboring hunters would pressure the deer to us. Well, by lunch I hadn’t seen a deer. Seems like that was the general trend among all of us as we gathered together at the barn for our mid day break. We decided to sit tight at our original spots for the afternoon. It turned out that none of us got a thing the first day.

Tuesday we decided to do some drives to see if we could get anything moving. We put the two Clayton’s on a stand together, and Marlin & Rodney chose positions accordingly. Wayne and I walked through the front lower woods toward the standers. We didn’t jump a thing, so we were going to try what I call the “meat” drive. This was where both Rodney and my son Clayton had killed their first deer.

I had started walking before the others and got to the mini barn before them. I waited for a while then I see my son walking towards me alone. I thought this a bit strange because grandpa was to be with him. When he got to me he told me that grandpa had fallen and may have a broken ankle. I was trying to find the keys to Wayne’s truck so I could go pick them up when I saw them coming on the 4 wheeler. Once they got to the barn we checked his ankle out, and everyone thought it was just a bad sprain. (Not much swelling and no coloration) Dad said he would be ok to stay in the mini barn, and “You just go hunt!” So we fired up the heaters, made him comfortable, and continued our hunt.

My son & I went up around the “spoil pile”, Rodney stayed on the road covering any side escape, and Wayne & Marlin made the drive. I thought I could hear something walking in the leaves below us, but could not get to the edge of the ledge to look. Turns out there were 3 deer that snuck past us. Rodney saw them but could not get a shot.
We then set up to drive off the top of the ridge. Clayton and I took the top spots, Rodney about halfway down the side of the ridge, and Wayne & Marlin did the drive. I did see a nice 8 point buck come through from this drive, but could not get a shot. Rodney saw a doe but again, couldn’t get a shot. Things were looking up, at least we were seeing deer.

By now it was getting close to lunch, so Rodney and I went separate directions to “sneak and peek” our way back to the barn. Wayne, Clayton, and Marlin went back to check on dad. The sneak & peeks didn’t work either, so we were all gathered at the mini barn for lunch. I was getting tired of not seeing anything, and was about ready to call it a day & go home. Rodney had to leave at lunch, so we were less one guy for the afternoon. Marlin decided to go back to the caves area, the rest of us were undecided. As Marlin was walking away, we were in the barn talking. All of a sudden….. BOOM!!! We all jumped up (except dad
) in time to see a deer running towards the woods. I managed to get a shot off, but it was too far & I missed. Marlin went to where the deer had been & found a good blood trail. Clayton & I went to where the deer had gone into the woods and found the deer soon thereafter.

Well, this gave us renewed hope that there were actually deer on the property, and after helping to recover Marlins deer, we decided to keep hunting. The new plan was to drive the lower front woods again, only this time do it just opposite from the first time. So Clayton & I went to the other end, picked our spots, Marlin covered the side escape route. Wayne came through the thick stuff for us one more time……… to no avail. By this time it was almost 2:30. Wayne decided to do one more drive. This was the drive through the area where we had been seeing the big one. I knew Wayne really wanted to have that buck on his wall, but he unselfishly decided to make the drive. Clayton, Marlin & I climbed up the back side of the “Vee” (no easy task) and went out the top of the ridge to our spots. Clayton & I were on the ground right behind the double ladder stand, and Marlin went to the single stand on the edge of the top food plot. (about 50 to 60 yards away from us) I chose to stay on the ground, because the deer had been known to come into that area and look up at the stand to see if it was occupied.
I had told Clayton that this year things would probably be happening a little faster than last year, and you’ll have to get on target and on the trigger a little quicker than before. We were on stand for a little over an hour, and you tend to drop your guard & not pay attention like you should. All of a sudden, there were 3 or 4 deer running towards us. Clayton got his gun up & was aiming at the first one in line, as he had been taught, when I looked back under his gun at the last deer in line & saw antlers. I whispered to him “the last one is a buck”, so he held off from the first ones and waited the 2 seconds it took for the buck to come into view. He was coming in at a fast trot, (not the ideal condition for a new hunter to take the shot) I knew I had to do something, I had seen guys do this in videos, so I decided to give it a shot. As the buck came into the opening, I did a “maap” sound, and the buck stopped in his tracks! Just like in the videos! He no sooner stopped than the gun went off, Clayton was on him and ready when he stopped. I am so proud of the way he handled himself in the heat of the moment. I was watching the buck when he shot, and saw it stagger just a bit to the right, then turn & run down over the bank. The following was the exchange between my son & I… “I think you hit him son!”…… “I know I hit him dad!” That’s my boy!

We went down to where he was when Clayton shot, and I didn’t see any blood, which concerned me for a bit, but we were able to follow the tracks in the leaves. It turns out we didn’t need to follow long, the deer only went about 30 yards from the point of impact. Clayton made the perfect shot! It was only then that I realized what was lying on the ground in front of us. We both thought it was the 8 point I had seen on the other drive until we walked up to it. It was the 12 point that owned the ridge! I then heard a whistle & looked up, only to see the reason this buck was on the ground in front of us. My brother was standing on the hill watching through his binoculars. It was his unselfish willingness that gave my son a chance at the buck of a lifetime. I will always be grateful to him for that. Many lesser men would not have revealed the area, let alone made the drive that produced the granddaddy of the property. Wayne, thanks seems so little to say, but that is all I have. You have touched our lives in a way you’ll never know.

Turns out that grandpa’s ankle was broken (the small bone) but when he found out that his grandson had killed the big one, you wouldn’t have known he was hurt. It was a very special day, to be able to share it with my son, my dad, and my brother made it even more so. (Three generations in the woods together that day). There is something unique about your children’s success. It is far better than anything you do yourself, but I can’t explain it. It was 33 years and 1 day from the time I killed my first buck till my son killed his. I’m happy to see the tradition of hunting being carried on in him.
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