Ben’s First Deer Hunt…A Father/Son Lifetime Experience!

There are many firsts in life…first day of school, first job, first date, first hunt, etc. However, one of the most memorable (to this writer) is probably the harvest of one’s first deer. On the Patio Ranch, that is one of the most rewarding experiences for the staff as it opens up a whole new world for the first hunter. Through the hunting experience, the hunter is introduced to many interconnected trains of thought: population dynamics, herd management, ecosystem management, endangered species and hunting ethics to name of few. Most simply and all encompassing, the first hunter/harvester learns the joy of walking on the land that supports life and makes all of these experiences possible…but only if the new hunter is taught the importance of good stewardship of the land.
Ben had been on the ranch many times before as a visitor, but this was his first lifetime hunting experience. Ben had been practicing his marksmanship and gun handling safety with his father, Steve, in preparation for this moment. He was proficient at target shooting and in understanding of shot placement on an animal. Ben was asked to help with population control of the herd by harvesting an older and possibly post-productive female. Now, all he needed was an opportunity. The first day had been one of blustery winds and cool weather. Very few animals were seen and none had presented an opportunity for a good, safe shot. That is, until shortly before dark. Three deer cows were seen walking slightly away at about 70 yards and were widening the gap with each passing moment. They stopped and were turning broadside for a possible good shot placement opportunity on an older one. However, Ben knew that with the failing light and dark only moments away, the possibility of wounding was too great. And that is one thing that no hunter wants…a wounded animal. So, with great regret but a clear conscience because he was doing the right thing for the animal and himself, Ben decided not to shoot. Tomorrow would be another day.
The next day was more calm and held promise for better opportunities to take an animal. As the hunting party moved through the pasture, a large and mature cow was spotted. As Ben jockeyed for position to get a clear shot at this lone female, she realized that he was near. She started to look around and all knew that she would not be still for very long. The cow decided to move toward the refuge of the junipers that were very close to her current position. It seemed that she would enter the cedar brake before a shot could be taken. Suddenly she stopped and looked back slightly over her shoulder. Ben did not hesitate as he was steady and knew where his shot needed to be placed. He fired and she dropped where she had stood and was still. Ben’s face and entire demeanor at this time would be a perfect example for the definition of “excitement”! The green branch in the mouth of the deer in the photo demonstrates Ben’s respect for the animals and his desire to honor them after the hunt with the traditional “Last Bite”. What a great way to start what we hope will be a lifetime of hunting opportunities and successes and the development of another good steward of the land.
Please join us in congratulating Ben on his hunting success and the start of what we hope will be his lifetime of hunting. Steve, Ben’s father, has a reason to be proud of Ben for his development into an ethical and conscientious hunter. If you are ever around Ben or Steve, ask them about this special father/son experience. I am sure that whichever one you ask will relate the experience with great enthusiasm and excitement of the moment as well as the wonderful potential for the future. Without doubt, they will surely “…tell a different hunting story!!”

Best wishes for a great year of hunting!