By Lea Leggitt
Everyone starts out with a mentor while hunting. It could be your mom or dad or even a family friend. This year I got to be a mentor to my 12-year-old cousin as well as my mother, who has also been my hunting mentor since I was a toddler. No matter what your age, or experience, you sometimes need that one person to support you and help you through the hunt.
If you've been hunting long enough, it's inevitable that you're eventually going to miss a shot. It's just part of the experience. Sometimes this can really play mind games because no hunter ever wants to miss an animal. This is the case with my mother. Even though she is a guide herself, during her personal hunts she had a really tough season with long shots, bad rests, and antsy guides.
My mom drew a Colorado mule deer tag, and after the season she'd had so far, she had no filled tags and was definitely worried something would go wrong. Although she's capable of hunting her mule deer alone and has taken bucks while by herself, she enlisted me to be her guide.
I let her use my gun, “Ole Reliable,” and we headed out. The season was nine days long so we had plenty of time. She's not an impatient hunter, so we waited for “Mr. Right” and saw many deer. There were big bucks, little bucks, and many freak bucks. My mom told me she didn't want to settle on a meat buck until the last day.
One evening we finished our day, deciding to sit a field just before dark to see what would feed out. We were sitting there no longer than 20 minutes when a toad of a deer emerged out of the brush. I snapped pictures as my mom sat, glassing him through her Swarovskis. We both thought he looked good and could be "The One."
I reviewed the pictures to see all the unique features and my face lit up. "This is the buck," I said, showing my mom. I asked her what she thought, and she agreed that this is him.
We kept our eyes on him as he bedded down and we snuck to about a 100 yards. He still lay there looking around. We decided to wait him out, and I made sure my mom had a good rest and encouraged her to relax.
The buck never knew we were there, and after about a half hour of waiting, he decided it's time to get up. I whispered to my mom, "Get ready and take a couple of deep breaths." It's something she's told me time and time again, and I've told other clients as well. I don't care who you are. It helps to slow down and settle in for the shot.
He finally stood up, and she fired. "BAM!"
I kept my eye on him as he staggered and she reloaded. She’d hit him good, but because I knew she worried about a miss I told her, "Shoot him again." You see, when you're hunting big game, a good slogan is "Shoot them until all four are in the air," which also means, "Shoot them before they have a chance to run off."
She let another round go, and he dropped. I smiled at her and gave her a big hug. We had just got her a great deer, and it was just the freak she hoped for this season.
We waited about 20 minutes before walking out to him. He was a huge-bodied, beautiful deer.
It warmed my heart to have her be successful on a hunt this year and be fortunate enough for it also to be a great buck. Sometimes all it takes is support and a good mentor to get you through a tough hunt. Also, sometimes the toughest challenges come from past experiences and the little voices in your head. I'm happy to have helped be the positive voice on this hunt.
Someday you may be a mentor to your family or friends, always remember, it's okay to push someone but don't push them to make a shot of which they're not comfortable. Be sure to be happy and encouraging, have faith in the shooter because sometimes they won’t be too sure. Don’t forget that even very experienced hunters, like my mother, can have a struggle in the field so don’t get frustrated. Be their support. Good luck and happy hunting to you, your friends and your family.You can watch the hunt at Colorado Mule Deer Freak | Mia's Motivations