By Scott Hopperdietzel – The week was beautiful fall weather, sunny warm days, and the colors on the trees were vibrant. The week was not full of outdoor adventures as it entailed getting some housework done and finalizing our preparations for the upcoming youth hunt.
The clothesline was full of our camo, and blaze orange, grocery, and gear lists were made. Connor and Bryce sighted in their rifles; after a few adjustments, they were dialed in. Dad and Corey went to check the trail cameras on Wednesday, and the pictures heightened our feelings of having a successful hunt.
October 9th through October 11th
I hurried home from the office; Connor and Bryce helped load the gear into the truck. The truck left the driveway and headed towards the familiar route north on Highway 13. We would be at camp in a little over an hour’s drive time.
As we pulled into the campsite at Cooper Dam, the other family members were sitting around the campfire having supper. We unloaded our gear into the tent and grabbed some grub. In a few more hours, the sun would set, the family sat around the campfire for a little bit before hitting the sack.
Corey’s family would be staying in their popup camper, while the boys, Mom, Dad, Boone, and I would sleep in the outfitter tent. When you need to create more sleeping space, I highly recommend the bunk cot system from Disc-O-Bed. The design and concept of these bunks let us fit more people into the 12×18 outfitter tent.
The campground had some early morning visitors, who had pulled in around 1 am with their radio playing loudly. The young people decided to stop in at one of the campsites, sure it was rude behavior, but I recall being young and inconsiderate of others a time or two in my younger days.
The 4 am alarm finally went off; I got up to get the fire going in the stove and brew a pot of coffee on the stovetop. It did not take long for Rolyn to show up at the door of the tent, all dressed and ready for Grandpa to take him out for the morning sit.
Kurt pulled into camp to pick up Connor, and off they went to sit one of Kurt’s areas that he hunts up north. Bryce and I jumped in our truck, and we made the short drive to our spot. We grabbed our chairs, packs, and the rifle as we made our way through the woods, following our glow tacks that I had marked out on the trail last week.
As we climbed into the blind and got the camera gear set up, we settled waiting for the
sunrise. Soon we had birds chirping, and squirrels were rustling in the leaves gathering acorns. A couple of text messages were received from the rest of the group, all wishing each other good luck. After a couple of messages, my phone soon was not receiving or sending text messages. Many of the locations that I hunt are dead zones for any type of cell phone service. I like the feeling of being disconnected from the rest of the world. Even our great technology of today gets beaten by mother nature!
Bryce and I spent the next few hours watching gray squirrels chase each other and bury acorns. As each passing minute went by, our stomachs continue to growl with hunger. We took turns playing Yahtzee; after several rounds and no sightings of deer, we surrendered to the growls of our stomachs.
As we pulled into camp, Leatha, Mom, and Myra were busy putting the final touches on breakfast that was being cooked over the fire. Leatha had reported that she got a text message from Corey that Seth had shot a deer.
Soon Corey and Seth pulled into camp, and we hung his deer up in the nearby pine tree. Everyone congratulated Seth on his harvest and shared stories about their morning sit. There had not been a lot of deer movement that morning.
Some of us took an afternoon nap, while others sat around the campfire or played games. Based on the deer movement from the trail cameras, we had decided that we would have to get in the woods early for the evening sit.
The camp bustled as the crew that hunted in the morning was getting ready to go back out. Leatha, Mom, Myra, and Boone were going to spend the afternoon exploring the area. They wished us all luck as we pulled away from camp.
Bryce and I settled into the same blind we had sat in the morning; we again broke out the handheld Yahtzee game and continued passing the game back and forth to each other. Even with the cooler evening temps, the deer still decided not to move much for us. We left under cover of darkness.
Back at camp, Leatha was busy cooking hamburgers and warming the chili Mom had made for the group. It kind of felt like déjà vu as we had gotten a report that Seth had shot another deer, this time, he had taken a 7 point buck.
Jared had come home from college and joined us in camp; his youth and strength would be handy for the drag out. Some of the crew left camp to get Seth’s buck out of the woods. The rest of us sat and talked around the campfire.
After a while, Corey’s truck had pulled back into camp, and in the bed of the truck was Seth’s deer. After getting a photo session in, we hung the deer in the pine tree. It was getting late now, and everyone was exhausted from all of the day’s activities. The campfire session was short-lived, and off to the bunks, we went.
The 4 am alarm was soon waking camp up, and we repeated the routine from the day before. The morning sit for everyone was pretty quiet, with no deer being taken this beautiful Sunday morning.
Leatha did another great job of making a meal for the crew; after eating, the family played card games while I decided to take Boone in the woods for a grouse hunt.
The grouse hunt was also going to be a scouting trip to see if the nearby national forest held any sign worthy of hunting it later for deer. I had found a little deer sign and came across a spot that another hunter had hung a stand and looked like it was a tree that this hunter had been using for several years now.
When I had got back into camp, the family had packed up and left for home. Jared, Connor, and Bryce had gone for a walk to explore the river. I started to pack our gear up; after a while, the boys come walking back to camp together, and my heart filled with happiness as I watched my three boys stroll back into camp. It had been a very long time since I had seen the three amigos be together at one time. I had asked them what they had been up to, and they proudly responded with, “At the river, skipping rocks!”
They helped me finish up the chore of packing, hugged Jared, and told him to drive back safely. Connor, Bryce, and I decided to take a long way home and do a little road hunting for either deer or a grouse. We made the traditional stop at the Mondeaux Spring. After hitting the road again, the boys and Boone were all fast asleep on me.
Overall the youth hunt was another great success; the family had got some deer, laughs were shared, and memories made. This youth hunt would be Connor’s last one as he now reaches the age of 15; next year, he will be too old to participate in the hunt. I have two more years with Bryce, and then he will be done with this special hunt also.
In the next couple of years, I will help mentor Corey’s kids, or I will have to find a kid that has the desire to try hunting. If I can find another kid to take hunting, I will give them an experience in the outdoors that they would not forget. I did have the opportunity to take a father and son out on a youth hunt a couple of years ago. We were able to get their first deer together; that particular hunt is one that I put on the list as one of my memorable moments in the outdoors.
This mentor hunt/youth hunt weekend has been held for several years now; it was introduced to increase the interest in hunting. OnFocus covered a story about how you can take the hunter safety course. The course is not a requirement to try this hunt. Your mentor will have to be 18 years old and have a license to be legal.
In closing, I hope you find a way to get into the outdoors, create your adventure and memories, but most importantly, find a way to “Celebrate the Experience.” Go check out www.thankfuloutdoors.com for more content and share your “Celebrate the Experience” moment with us!
We welcome your stories! Contact us at [email protected]!