Facing a longer-than-anticipated shot at his first trophy buck, a stubborn, nearly 150-inch 10-point showing no interest in coming closer, young Camden Sanders of Louisville didn’t hesitate.
“I asked him if he felt he could make the shot,” Michael Sanders said. “I asked him ‘do you feel comfortable?’
“He said, ‘Daddy I can do it.’”
With that, the father handed his son back the rifle and gave him the OK to take the shot. It was the Saturday morning of Thanksgiving weekend.
“I had been using the scope to look at the buck; I scoped him out good,” Michael Sanders said. “We were hunting up at my brother Gabe’s place near Como (in Panola County) and they are pretty strict about the bucks they kill.
“I was on the phone describing the buck to Gabe and told him it was a good 10-point. He said that he’d never seen or heard or had pictures of that buck, and he said ‘you need to go ahead and shoot that buck.’”
With everything set, and the gun back in the 12-year-old hunter’s hands, all they needed was for the buck to turn broadside. Time was not on the side of the hunters. A hard wind was blowing straight from them to the buck.
Five minutes passed, and then 10, before the buck turned slightly and gave the boy a quartering toward-type shot.
“When the buck turned, it was not a perfect broadside shot, but I knew it was about as good as we were going to get,” Sanders said. “The wind was bad, but the shot was not that long. The green field was 100 yards long, and our stand was 30 yards back in the trees. It was a 130-yard shot.”
Camden Sanders pulled the trigger on his 7mm-08, and the buck spun around and ran out of the field.
“At first I thought he had missed it,” Sanders said. “I called my brother, and he said if he missed just stay there. He might come back out. A 6-point came out, and then an 8-point and Gabe told us that if we felt he missed the deer, we could shoot the 8.”
The youngster wasn’t having any of that.
“He said ‘Daddy, I thought I made the shot,’ so he didn’t want to shoot the 8,” Sanders said. “We waited for the deer to leave and went to look for blood. I didn't find any for about 10 minutes, but I didn’t want to give up.
“I told him this was a deer of a lifetime, that we had to keep looking, and I went and made one more pass through a sage field, and I found a blood trail in a little scope of trees out there. I hollered and told Camden.”
The youngster, a little down on himself, was still in the green field at the spot where the buck had been standing.
“All I could see was his head and the top of his orange vest on his shoulders,” Sanders said. “When I hollered that I found blood, he must have jumped three feet straight up because I could see the whole vest above the grass. He was so excited.”
By then, Gabe Sanders, who lives in Nesbit, had arrived to help with the tracking.
“We followed the trail for about 20 yards in that scope of trees before it played out,” Michael Sanders said. “Where we first found blood, there was a pretty good puddle and for 20 yards there was a good trail, but then it trickled and played out.
“Gabe said that in the past, wounded deer up there had a habit of running from one scope of trees to the next scope of trees, so he went on up to the next one and found the blood trail again, a lot of it. We walked about 30 yards and we saw the buck trying to get up. We backed off and let him die.”
It took about two minutes for the buck to expire.
“The shot was a little far back, but the bullet did a lot of damage before it exited a few inches in front of the far hind quarter,” Sanders said. “It was not a great shot, but it was good enough.”
At the cleaning shed, they took pictures and started celebrating and slowly the youngster began realizing the accomplishment.
The buck is a mainframe 10-point, both tall and wide, and it was green scored 148 4/8 inches for the Big Buck Bounty contest. It had a 19-inch inside spread, with both G2s and one G3 over 10 inches. The main beams were both around 21 inches, and the bases were over 4 inches.
“After I had caped it out and had it sitting out on the truck, I noticed Camden kept going back out and looking at it,” the proud dad said. “He was just tickled, and grinning ear to ear. I mean he was tickled to death. We were all really happy.”
There was cause for celebration, too, since the morning hunt capped a two-year attempt to get the youngster his first trophy buck.
“We hunt around our house in Louisville but we came up here last Thanksgiving to get him a big buck,” Michael Sanders said. “Gabe has this club he sort of heads up and they are on a big buck management program, and all the lands around him are on the same kind of plan. That’s why they have such good deer.
“Last year, Camden didn’t see a good one and we let him shoot a 4-point cull buck. He’s only been hunting two years; this is his second season. He also killed a small 7-point at home last year and a couple of does this year. We came back up here again on Thanksgiving weekend with the intent of getting him a big one.”
The first hunt was Friday morning, and the youngster hunted with his uncle Gabe.
“What was so bad, was that he missed a doe with Gabe and I shot a nice 17-inch 8-point,” Michael Sanders said.
“That’s why it was so important that we get him one. He was kind of mad at me about me getting one.
“He and I hunted together Friday afternoon and he saw two does he wouldn’t shoot, and a 4- and a 6-point that didn’t measure up. What was funny was that the buck I shot on Friday had been chasing a doe. The bucks were chasing does but when it warmed up later Friday and on Saturday, the bucks grouped back up and didn’t chase does at all.
“We went back to that same stand he had hunted both times Friday and right after first light, the 10-point came in with a 6-point. The 6-point walked halfway down the field toward us and turned and walked off in the grass. The 10-point didn’t leave the far end.”
That’s OK, though. Camden Sanders was up to the task, made the shot and had a great story to share with his 6th grade classmates at Eiland Secondary School in Louisville on Monday.
*Don't forget to enter photos of your bucks in the Big Buck Photo Contest to be eligible for monthly giveaways.
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