Sunday afternoon I drove up to my son's place (just South of the Kentucky/Tennessee state line) to drop off some stuff he left at Thanksgiving. My daughter-in-law said he was out in the woods behind his house with Micaela, his 6 yr old daughter, who was along to watch. I wanted to wait for them to get back, and it was only about 20 minutes before dark, but I had other things to do at home.
I hadn't been gone more than 5 minutes when my cell phone rang. Joe had shot at a buck, but in their haste to get to the woods they'd forgotten to take along any flashlights.
So I turned around to go back and help them out.
When I got back to their house, the wife was running around the kitchen looking for batteries and her camera. The other two girls (Valerie, age 10 and Sydney, age 4) were in the barn getting Joe's head lamp and big flashlight. I took the two girls and headed out to the cornfield along the woods; it was already pitch dark.
As we walked along, little Sydney kept saying things like "My flashlight makes a butterfly shadow on the ground" and "I'm wearing boots! Are you, Grandpa Jake?" Meanwhile Valerie was leading the way to the stand, as she's sat there with Joe before.
When we met Joe, he pointed out where the buck had stood in the cut corn field about 100 yards from the stand. We spread out, looking for sign. Valerie was the first to exclaim "I've got blood here!" I asked her to stand next to it to mark the spot. Soon little Sydney found some blood, so she stood at that spot. Eventually we had the three girls strung out in the field, flashing their lights, while Joe and I searched the edge of the woods where Joe thought the buck went.
Once we found where the buck entered the woods, Joe lead the way while I held the brush back and let the girls follow close behind their dad. Within 10 yards we found the buck.
"Oh, he's a pretty one!"
"Daddy, he ran right where the last one did!"
"Daddy, turn him over so I can see the exit!"
I just stood back with the lights and the camera, taking it all in. The buck was one that we never would have shot on our larger hunting lease, but on this little 10 acre woods behind the house, and with the girls getting to share in all of this, it will be one of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences I'll have in a long, long time.