By Elaina Stafford, Rough and Ready, Calif.
It was a pretty cold morning on the second-to-last day of deer season near our home in Rough and Ready, Calif. After many trips into the high country with no sign of any bucks, only spotting a mamma bear and her cub (scary but awesome), my son, Connor, decided to make one last scouting trip on the BLM land located within walking distance of our home. My husband was not able to go that morning as he had fractured his wrist the day before, so Connor decided to go out alone and take a look one last time.
He packed his gear and left after assuring Mom he’d keep in close contact. He was very familiar with this area and was looking forward to a hike to clear his mind more than he was expecting to find any game. About an hour had passed, and my husband decided to take off his splint to take a shower and get ready for the day. As he got in the shower his phone rang. Noticing it was Connor, I answered it and said, “Hey bud.”
He replied in a low whisper, “Mom! I need to talk to Dad, now! There’s the biggest buck I’ve ever seen 100 yards away from me!”
I ran to the bathroom to tell my husband—who was still in the shower—and told him it was our son on the phone and that he needed to talk to him. I put the phone on speaker and my husband stuck his head out of the shower door trying to listen and stay as quiet as possible. I giggled as he was all soapy but so excited. Connor said, “Dad! It’s right here. I’ve got a clean shot. What should I do?”
My husband replied, “Okay bud, steady as she goes. If you think you’ve got a clean shot and can drop him, go for it.”
“Okay Dad, I got this,” replied Connor.
Shaking with excitement, my husband said “Okay bud, steady now. Good luck, son.”I grinned as the phone went silent. Then almost immediately my phone rang. It was Connor. I answered it and said, “Bud?”
No response. I realized his phone had accidentally called me and was in his shirt pocket. I ran to my husband again and said, “Listen, it’s him; he doesn’t know his phone called me.”
I put it on speaker and we both listened quietly as we heard the sound of rustling and breathing from my son creeping through the brush. We both grinned. I said to my husband, “I guess we’ll know if we hear a shot.” Almost as soon as I said this, boom! We heard his rifle go off and I jumped as my husband put his fist into the air mouthing, “Yes!” Then the phone went silent. “Go get out there,” I said to my husband. “Now!”
Then my husband’s phone rang. “Dad, I got him! I got him!”
My husband grinned from ear to ear. You could hear the shaking of excitement in Connor’s voice. He gave my husband the coordinates of his location and we quickly wrapped his broken wrist back up and he got into his 4-Runner and took off. My husband called me when he got to our son and excitedly said, “Oh my gosh, honey! He got a big one!”
Not only did he get one, but it was one of the biggest bucks me or my father, who has been a hunter for 45-plus years, had ever seen. And pretty much right in our back yard. He was also deemed to have gotten the biggest buck of the season in our area and zone. Calls and emails flooded in on this amazing trophy and exciting hunting story. All in all, and 150 pounds of meat later, our 15-year-old son became a man. He will be able to pass down the story to his children and grandchildren about his first buck-hunting experience. He is the envy of not only his friends, but the other avid hunters in our area. When people ask him how it felt and how he did it, he just smiles and says, “Patience, silence, and steady as she goes, son.”