By John “Bones” Bowlin, Delphi, Ind.
We all have a favorite memory when it comes to the outdoors and all that it offers. For some it’s the biggest fish ever caught. For others it’s the biggest set of horns ever taken. It may be the first hunt with a child or the last hunt with a grandpa.
My wife and I were quite blessed last fall and purchased an 80-acre farm in Indiana. It was a dream come true for the entire family. We still feel like we won the lottery. Prior to buying the farm, I had planned an elk hunt with a buddy of mine. So off I went to Wyoming for two weeks. That was an adventure on horseback that deserves its own American Hunter story. Suffice it to say, I killed my first elk, a mature cow, in the beautiful mountains out West. That should be on every hunter’s bucket list.
After the elk hunt, it was a drive straight through back to Indiana. I arrived one day before the gun season opener. Having been out of state for a few weeks, I definitely did not scout the farm as thoroughly as I should have. So my sons and I put up three treestands where the sign looked promising, and we hoped for the best. That night I lay awake tossing and turning, second guessing every stand location and generally making myself and my wife crazy.
After about two hours of sleep, opening morning arrived with the usual “kid at Christmas” excitement. My boys and I were wide awake and sitting at the breakfast table drinking coffee and chatting about what this greatest of days may hold. My sweet wife even got up to fix us bacon and eggs! We all agreed on two rules. No. 1: We were only going to shoot bucks, no does. No. 2: We would stay in the stand until we all had a buck, even if it meant staying all day.
We arrived at the farm 90 minutes before daylight and went to our respective stands. As the new day dawned and the sun was coming up that morning, all I could think about was how lucky we were to have our own woods to hunt! Shortly after sunup, I saw two does meandering along the creek below me. They didn’t have a care in the world. Then I saw a forkhorn but decided not to shoot such a young buck.
At 7:30 I heard a shot to the west, and I knew that it was my oldest son who had fired. I received a picture of a nice 8-point buck with the text, “Buck down!” Alright! One down, two to go.
A little after 8 I saw a doe trotting through some thick cover and thought to myself, I’d better get ready, there might be a buck following her. In the blink of an eye a nice buck appeared in the woods. He had his nose to the ground like a bloodhound hot on the trail. I grunted, and he kept on tracking. I grunted louder a second time and he stopped, looking in my direction. I felt like the buck was staring me down. I already had my gun up so I took careful aim, took a breath and squeezed off a round. Big buck down! Two down, one to go. Now I was dying to go see this buck, but there was no way Dad could break Rule No. 2. I’d never live that one down with my boys.
At 9:20 I heard a shot to the south and knew that was my youngest son. I received a picture of a nice 10-pointer with the text, “Got him!” Three for three!
Well, this was more than we had dared hope for. All three of us had killed nice bucks before 9:30 in the morning. This was like winning the World Series, the Super Bowl and the Indy 500 all in one! Prior to this hunt, we had never all killed bucks in the same season, let alone the same day. My sons and I had all killed nice bucks the first time hunting our new place. It was without a doubt the greatest hunt ever!
P.S.: Notice who killed the biggest buck?
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