Johnny's First Deer: The Grampy Factor
By Phil McTigue

On June 10, 2000, John M. Williams, 11, of Clifton, Maine received his first compound how, a PSE-Spyder with a set of arrows as a birthday gift from his parents, John and Eileen Williams.

Anxious to get started, John wanted to go outside and start shooting the first day. After a few days of shooting he expressed a desire to become more proficient and thus off he went to the Archers Edge in Old Town with his grandfather, Phil McTigue of Holden, for advanced instructional shooting.

After three weeks and with the guidance of the instructors at the range, John decided he might like to try his junior skills at bow hunting.

Off to the woods scouting for the elusive black bear was his first request. This young sportsman sat on a bear stand for four afternoons reading sports books before his first sighting. He kept in his mind the story given to him by his grandfather.'re only going to get one shot, so plan it carefully. The 150-pound black bear approached the bait cautiously as always, checking the wind and possible scent with his nose.

John watched the bruin for approximately five minutes, looked at his grandfather and received a positive nod to shoot at his own timing. John stood up as quietly as an owl, pulled back the arrow and squeezed the trigger on his release driving the arrow down. It glanced off the bait barrel sticking into the ground. The bear stood up and bounded off. Johnny later said that his knees were shaking a little contributing to the miss!

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Three days later, John had his second shot at another bear. Only this time he hit the bear in the left front shoulder bone. This time the bear stood up and with lightning speed pulled the arrow out from his left shoulder, casted it aside and bolted off. John at this point realized the importance of selecting the proper hit zone on bear and what inches meant in target practicing.

After the bear season ended, this young sportsman decided he might try his luck on deer, again with the assistance of his grandfather. Johnny continued to practice every evening after school trying to sharpen his shooting skills with the bow.

During his eight days of hunting from a tree stand, Johnny had an opportunity of a lifetime. While reading a book he heard a snap from a branch and immediately looked up and scanned the general direction of the noise. He continued to seek the intruder who made this noise without success. Soon he looked up from his book again... and, sure enough, there before him was a large racked six point buck with ten to eleven inch tines. The deer crossed the skidder trail and looked as if it would soon be out of bow distance. But Alas, the buck decided to come our way. The scent we had put out an hour earlier appeared to be working. This big chested white tail continued to approach. Johnny looked at his grandfather and received the thumbs up to start to shoot. This novice waited until the buck looked back over his shoulder and stood up and drew back. It seemed that he held the string back for two to three minutes before firing. The deer was heading right under the stand. Johnny released the trigger and the arrow was on its way. Immediately the majestic animal shoved his head up only to block the path of the arrow with his antlers causing the arrow to shoot up in into the cedar branches. It instantly turned and bolted off four or five hops in the forest. Johnny's eyes were as big as a half-dollar with excitement attached with the big smile. He never got disappointed, asking, "Do you think he will come back tomorrow afternoon, grampy?" We returned to the same stand for three more afternoons without any success. Johnny continued to practice.

With the regular archery season coming to a close on October 27th and the opening of the firearms season on the 28th, Johnny decided he should be spending some time practicing the skills of shooting his fathers' 30-30, Winchester 94. After shooting a box and one half of shells he seemed to have mastered the basics of the aim, slack and squeeze portion of shooting along with the correct sight picture of the scope.

Before school each day, Johhny was up at 5 and in a tree stand at daylight. He then hunted until 7:45 to 8:00 A.M. He was later picked up at school at 2:45 each day and hunt to closing time.

The evening of November 14th, Johnny's grandfather was visiting them and overheard Johnny asking his Dad if he seen any 'big bucks today. His Father responded "Yes but I could not get a good shot at it. Johnny immediately asked his father if he was going to hunt the same area tomorrow and his father replied, "No, I've got to work at the office".

At that point, his grandfather decided where the two of them would hunt. What could be be better than a ten-year-old first time rifle hunter using one of his father's rifles and tree stand and shooting his father's trophy buck?

There was very heavy drizzle that morning.Grandfather and grandson headed for the new location. "You can't tell any one where we are going today, " hs grandfather whispered.

As they stepped cautiously down the twitch trail, Johnny was advised that there was a fork in the trail ahead and it should be approached cautiously as there might be a deer in either direction standing there. As they approached the intersection, Johnny immediately looked to he right and kept looking for a few seconds. Looking to the left his grandfather noticed a black bear scratching his left ear on backside of a large old pine stump. His grandfather immediately touched Johnny on this shoulder and said in a very low whisper..."look Johnny"... a bear"! All you could see was the head of the bear as the body was behind the stump. Johnny looked and froze, his eyes got big and a serious look came over his face.Then "BANG" went the rifle and the bear's head disappeared behind the old stump. They cautiously walked over to the stump and certainly enough, the black bear was dead shot in the left ear.

The male bruin was cleaned and loaded. Johnny was very professional when tagging his trophy. He knew that he had to produce his license and the need for a fee. He also provided, when asked by the lady tagging the bear with the location, sex of the animal, the caliber of weapon and even the time of day without any coaching from an adult companion. This prize trophy weighed in at 142 pounds

His immediate showing had to be his Dad at work! His father asked him where he shot the bear and the response was, "in the head"! No Johnny, I mean where was the location of the bear and the response was, "a secret spot".

The bear was shown to several of his friends and later he skinned out the bear with the guidance of his Dad.

With grandfather's help, Johhny continued hunting the early mornings before school as well as after school, again hoping to see that six pointer he had shot at earlier with his bow.

The evening of November 19, 2000 Johnny called his grandfather and they discussed the strategy for hunting the next morning and that afternoon.

Arriving at a new location at daylight, they quickly climbed up in to the tree stand and then pulled up Johnny's unloaded Winchester 94 with a rope. It was chilly and very quiet. It appeared to be an excellent day to hunt. Both parties knew that they could hunt until 7:45 and then down the tree to school at 8:15 A.M.

After approximately ten minutes of silence, Johnny whispered to his grandlather, "rattle the horns and blow the grunt sound". His grandfather suggested that rattling the horns on the oak ridge might not work until later in the morning! He did suggest that the grunt call might get some activity coming. It was agreed that the grunt would be the technique of choice.Two grunts were expelled and the call was put away. Within three to five minutes Johnny pointed in the northern direction and whispered that there was a deer coming! Just then Johnny pointed and sure enough this trophy buck was on the hunt! He was following scent that was put out earlier.

The hammer of the Winchester 94 was silently pulled back and the rifle was put on a dead hemlock branch approximately 4 inches in diameter to stabilize the shot. Johnny's eyes again got big and he had a big smile! Just then the buck started walking towards them to a point approximately thirty-five feet from the base of the tree. At this point Johnny started having difficulty getting a sight on the deer as it started to come under the large branch he was resting the rifle on. He tried to lower the rifle on two different occasions in excitement only to bang the branch causing the deer to stop. At that moment his grandfather grabbed the rifle in order to eliminate any additional banging noise, which initially caused the deer to stop. While still holding the rifle up in his left hand his grandfather took his 44. Mag Blackhawk hand gun and gave it to his grandson. Johnny's eyes again got very big, as he knew he had never shot this handgun. He had shot his dad's .22 cal. handgun. The grandfather knew it was a tough sell to convince his grandson to attempt the shot. Once he thought it was similar to the 22 cal. handgun he had shot with his father, he took it and aimed. After approximately 10-15 seconds there was this "Bang"!! Johnny arms and hands were flying in the air!

The deer was hit and took two hops and dropped. The rifle was unloaded and lowered to the grown via rope. John and his grandlather descended from the tree stand to investigate the reward.

It was a beautiflil 12 point buck, which appeared to be close to the 200 pound bracket. At this point Johnny was offered the task of field dressing his first deer. "Grampy, we should drag this beauty out so I can get to school on time". The question was presented again, do you want to clean the deer out here, as it was too big to drag. Johnny immediately suggested to his grandlather that he (the grandfather) should clean it out so he (Johnny) will know how next time! The young hunter was informed that he still owed his grandfather a cleaning for the bear fielddressed the previous week.

The deer was cleaned and loaded with the assistance of Johnny's dad and later that morning tagged. The dressed deer was taken to an official weighing station anticipating it may make the Big Buck Club of Maine. The official weight was 220.

Johnny had a chance that morning of the 2Oth to bring his trophy deer to school to show his principal, Ralph Russell who smiled and gave congratulations to him on the success of his hunt. Johnny is an honor roll student at Holbrook Junior High School in the fifth grade in Holden, Maine.

Surely this young hunter as well as the grandlather will never forget the memories of the 2000-hunting season.

Johnny's grandad, Phil McTigue is a resident of Holden.

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