At the beginning of this year I determined that I was going to try to make this the year that my oldest daughter (9 years old) was going to begin hunting deer (with her being the shooter).
The preparations of course involved a good amount of practice and also dry firing in the backyard. I bought a 2 man ladder stand from Family Traditions but she is so short that I had to make some modifications for her to be able to comfortably hunt and shoot out of it. I bought a used semi-auto .243 because she didn't like the recoil in a bolt action .243 and I also researched and found what I believed to be a good bullet that only weighed 80 grains (reducing recoil vs. the customary 100 grains in a .243).
We didn't hunt this stand last weekend or Saturday this weekend because the wind was all wrong. Today the wind was much more favorable so after church we headed to the woods. We climbed up and I fastened her safety belt to the tree and zipped up the camo skirt on the stand and immediately I heard a deer walking. I looked up and saw the sunlight shining off antlers. A buck was walking from our left to right at a steady pace.
I helped her get her rifle on the shooting rail and she was telling me that she couldn't see him clearly. I pointed out that after he passed a certain tree she would have a more open shot. When he passed that tree he paused and she let him have it. I had no idea she was already on him so quickly. At the shot he lurched forward and began running on 3 legs, with his right front leg just held sorta stiff. I've seen that sight before and knew how that was going to end. I told her she got him as I watched him run off. He went maybe 50-75 yards before disappearing behind some trees and we heard him crash. I knew if he kept running or got back up we would have seen glimpses of him moving through the swamp so I knew it was over. It was about 3:35 PM and if we had arrived just a couple of minutes later we never would have seen that deer...or maybe just his "flag."
I only intended to let her shoot out to about 30 yards and thought he was only about 50-60 yards out but after looking for the place where he was standing and ranging back to the stand I think it was 75-80 yards and she made a great shot. When I dressed him the top of his heart was damaged. I don't know if it was from the bullet or bone fragments as the bullet holes (she got an exit hole too) looked a little high for that (mid way up the body).
She was really excited and I couldn't be prouder of her and the shot she made under less than ideal circumstances. His live weight was 150 lbs. He would have been a 5 pointer but broke off his only brow tine in velvet (guessing that because it is a "smooth" break) and one G-2 after shedding his velvet. He also has a couple of short points coming off the back of one main beam, but I don't think you can count them, so he's a 3 pointer.
I had a whole backpack of gear and never even unzipped the pack. I was going to set up a video camera to film (hopefully) her first kill but obviously didn't have time. Oh well, maybe next time!