As hunting outings go, my most recent trip to the woods was something pretty special. I got to watch my eldest son drop the hammer on his first deer; a nice fat doe.
In the interest of full disclosure I must say that the hunt took place at a hunting preserve (www.HuntsEnd.com) and not out in the wilds of northern Wisconsin. But this was no easy “pop and drop” with a deer tied to a fence.
First off, we were looking for one particular doe in an effort to manage the herd. And consider this, shoot the wrong doe and it will cost a couple thousand dollars and cause irreparable damage to your reputation. Another issue was dealing with more than one deer. When the deer came out of the woods into the food plot, they came out in small groups. When Adam’s deer appeared, it was with others and the danger of a pass-through with his little .30-30 was very real.
To top it off, the doe seemed to know where to stand to never offer a good, broadside shot and it was clear the stress was starting to take its toll on the young shooter.
Finally, the herd parted, the deer turned and offered a nice broadside shot. I made the mistake of looking down at Adam’s trigger finger willing him to gently squeeze.
At the shot, I looked up and the doe was already on her side. It was a perfect shot, through both shoulder blades and the top of the heart.
I’ve never seen Adam happier. It was a great moment.
“I didn’t even feel the recoil,” he said. “I was just so focused on the deer!”
That reference was to the practice sessions we had leading up to the hunt. Adam is a fine shot with a .22, though he tends to work through the rounds a bit too quickly with the semi-auto. That leads him to forget the basics.
After the first few rounds with the deer rifle, I noticed he was flinching a bit and pulling his shots to the left. So I started loading the gun for him.
To take a step back, the gun is a New England Firearms SB-2 Handi-Gun. I bought it some 20 years ago as a back-up. The combo unit has interchangeable barrels; a .30-30 barrel and a 12-gauge modified shotgun tube. It is a single-shot break action in the typical NEF/H&R style. Early on I figured out how light, handy and easy to carry the gun is and over the years I’ve killed many birds and deer with that combination.
It is the perfect size and caliber for a starter deer rifle. Adam will use it for a while and Ethan will pick it up when he’s ready to hunt.
So, back to the story of the flinch.
I started loading the gun for Adam at the range. Sometimes I would put a shell in the chamber, sometimes I wouldn’t. Then I would watch his reaction as he pulled the trigger. I only had to tell him once what he was doing, he could feel and see the flinch and after about six rounds he was holding steady through the entire trigger press.
Out in the deer blind, the short little gun was easy to handle, ultra-safe with the transfer bar safety system and simple to use.
By the time he pulled the hammer back and lined up the cross hairs I was pretty confident he would get what he was aiming at… even if he was nervous about the whole deal.
In the end, I came away proud and happy for my son’s success and feeling pretty good about the way I had been able to teach him the skills to make him successful.
He will be the next generation of hunter and when we talk about that next generation we need to realize that they are starting out in the field now. We are not looking into the future; the future is looking to us, waiting for us to teach the skills and impart the love of shooting we grew up with.
If you are not taking someone shooting, you are part of the problem gun owners will face in the future.