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IronNoggin 11-22-2018 03:51 PM

The Mentor
This is a BC Hunt, on the Island to be specific.
But I thought many that are introducing their Young Guns to our Obsession might relate...

Reminiscing over the near 50 years of my hunting career, I have found that many of the "goals" I set out to accomplish have been realized. Some multiple times. I still love it, and look forward to my time in the field most passionately. But through the last ten years or so, I have discovered something that brings a huge amount of excitement and satisfaction to The Game. That something is introducing new hunters to the right way of doing things, while hopefully collecting their "first" under my guidance. In fact, I have become so focused on this that at times my own hunts take a back burner to that desire.

Perhaps wrongfully titled, for the true focus should not really be on The Mentor, but rather on the Young Gun that is being coached.
Without further preamble, I am going to disclose the events that occurred this fall with one such undertaking. The report was drafted and written in a journal style, so bear with the daily happenings as they occurred.
.................................................. ..............................

At the direct request of a Rancher Buddy of mine, I have taken his young son in tow and am working hard to try and set him up to collect his very first Blacktail. The Young Gun is very proficient with firearms, having been well trained for years by both myself and his Pa. In fact, I gave him his first pellet rifle, then helped with shooting the 22 and scope that followed. Now he is up to a 12 gauge, and is very competent with it.

Although does are open in that area, he has noted he will not take one.
A lesson I try hard to instill in many over there - leave the breeders alone.
And further noted he is willing to go empty if he cannot take a buck.
There are six bucks I know of in the area.
Last night saw but a single old doe wander by, but his eyes were glistening with excitement even when we wandered back to the ranch house.

Guess a few of my Buddies are right in this regard calling me a vampire that feeds off the first timer's excitement. That bill fits!

Headed back out in a matter of an hour or two, and praying to the Goddess of The Hunt to reward this fine young man with a decent possibility to take his buck. If not tonight, hopefully soon...

All thoughts of taking another for myself are back-burnered until this is accomplished.
And if that means my tag hangs on the Christmas Tree so be it.
MUCH more important to me for this Young Gun to be brought properly into our fold!

So, like the title says, please send a little luck our way!!

Thanks and I'll letcha know as it goes...

IronNoggin 11-22-2018 03:54 PM

Day Two:

Well, the show last night was as close as it comes.

Sat in the natural blind we had built a few days previous, side by side.
About 50 minutes before dark, a single doe sauntered by - at ten feet!!
The Lad was as calm as could be, simply smiling and watching the show while she wandered out into the field to feed - at 25 - 30 yards.
Fifteen minutes later, another younger doe came along from a different direction.
They fed side by side for quite the spell.

Suddenly the younger one lifted her head and stared HARD into the adjacent timber opposite from us.
The larger doe confirmed "there is someone there", but was entirely nonchalant about the matter.
The younger one strode over to the bushline and held, staring into the timber.
Senses on Red Alert, both the Young Gun & I sensed what was about to happen.
With a subtle shift, the Lad positioned himself just as the area's large three point entered the scene.

The buck instantly made for the doe, who led him on a merry prance back out towards us.
One hand up to the Lad - hold... hold...
As they approached, the buck seemed to lose interest in the first doe, and sidled in behind the larger one.
There he paused allowing me to gently whisper when he steps clear of her he will present a good shot.
Almost as though he had heard that, his muzzle went to the ground and he began to feed. :confused:

The large doe paid him no mind, and they continued to feed side by side for over 15 minutes.
At 25 yards.
And the entire time the buck was well hidden directly behind that big doe.
Again the Lad showed incredible patience and fortitude for one so young.
The only give-away was the subtle tremble in his hands as his eyes glistened staring at what was going on before us.
Catching that, I could not help by smile internally, well remembering the RUSH of those early hunts so far back in the mists of time of my own life.
NOTHING makes one feel more alive than those moments in my mind!

As daylight began to fail quickly, I was about to call it off, as it seemed the positioning we required was not about to happen.
Then something spooked the antlered one, he jumped and began to trot out from behind the doe.
I stopped him quickly with the standard grunt (Thanks Wabi!!), and he froze broadside.
Take Him I mouthed.

As the gun came up, the Lad's gloves made contact with a tree limb that bolsters one side of the blind.
Damn ski gloves, the sound they made seemed like a YELL in the stillness of the eve!
The buck tensed to launch, and before I could say HOLD again the gun was up.

A split second before the 12 gunge roared, that buck rocketed like his tail was on fire!
Perfectly centered where his chest has been a mere millisecond ago, the buckshot printed a lovely tight pattern on the ground.
Double Damn!!

Although I knew it to be a miss, I did not miss the opportunity to teach him about the follow-up requirements.
We gave it 15 minutes, then carefully investigated where he had been when the shot went off.
No hair, no blood.
Then we switched on our headlamps & worked the trail out well into the timber, and four of the adjoining trails thereafter.
Put in about an hour doing that, and the Lad was all over the task at hand.
Soon it was obvious - A Swing & a Miss.

Some of the most exciting moments of my life, and some of the most disappointing were his quiet words as we withdrew.
I gently explained that even the very best sometimes miss, and asked if he understood why the buck had acted like he did.
Stupid Gloves.
And today his Pa is taking him to Cabela's after school to get a good hunting pair (and likely a few other sundry items that will become "desperately needed" when they get there :) )

His mood well brightened by the time we reached the truck, and he was positively bubbly on the ride back home.
There he simply could not wait to excitedly explain all of the details to his Pa, culminating with "I will get him next time Dad!"
His Pa and I winked at each other, and reassured the Young Gun that things were indeed coming together as they should.
Only the second time out there, and had a possibility on one of the larger bucks in the area.
The pride in the Rancher's eyes was obvious, and he almost choked up as he shook my hand before I wandered off.

I left smiling for the drive home, already planning our next line of attack, and hoping that the next time the buck we encounter hangs up for another second or two...

More to come in this saga methinks...

I have to play catch-up for 2 days now, after hunting for 2 weeks straight there are some outstandings around the Hacienda that need addressing.
His Pa will take him out tomorrow, and I will return Thursday for our next foray...

Thanks for the well wishes Folks!
They not only are appreciated, it seems they helped in presenting us with the opportunity we encountered last night!
Keep them coming please, and just maybe this young fellow will realize his dream of taking a buck this fall!

IronNoggin 11-22-2018 03:55 PM

Well, the lad & his Pa got fogged out last night around 45 minutes before nightfall. :mad0100:
They only managed to make out one doe - at 15 feet. Could not see beyond that.

Supposed to head down tonight, but I am offering to come tomorrow and full day Saturday instead.
Still fixated on getting the fine young fellow onto one!
Guess in retrospect I perhaps should have started this quest much earlier in the season - when I was passing up multiple bucks a session in the other area...

Oh well, nose to the grindstone as it were, and in the words of old Chief Dan George We Shall Endeavor To Persevere...

IronNoggin 11-22-2018 03:57 PM

Well another evening rolled by.
The fog came in damn thick just as it did the other night I wasn't there - right about 45 minutes from nightfall.
But, we stuck it out, and occasionally it would lift just enough we could almost see 35 or so yards.

Just at dark it did just that, and there was a deer standing directly across from the blind, and staring hard in our direction.
An extremely slow lift of the binocs, and Yep, it's the three point!
At 25 yards!!
Ever so slowly I gave the Thumbs Up to the Lad.
He responded by moving in slow motion, not a single rustle to be heard, and the 12 gauge came to bear.
When settled, he then thumbed back the old hammer.
Unfortunately that resulted in an audible CLICK, and the buck instantly vanished into the fog like so much smoke!
So close and yet so far again.

I was up and called down there well before the sky even thought about greying up.
Fog so thick they could not even see ten feet.
Abandon the am.
The fog did not lift until after 10:30 am...
Right Call.

On the way out last night I encountered a HUGE 4 point I have not seen all season.
Big Boy for sure, and he really didn't like me slowing down for a boo even though it was well after dark.
Rocket time!
But now we know he is in the area, and spirits are running high once again!

Managed to drop my 50 year old scattergun on the asphalt when I got home.
Slipped part way up the drive, and the ol' Winchester single shot I was presented with at the ripe old age of nine plummeted from my arms, and smoked the asphalt drive with a sickening crunch.
50 years of looking after that one, gone in an instant!

I have taken ducks, geese, pheasants, sharptails, huns, and a pile of deer with that old gal.
Broke my heart to see what I had inflicted simply due to rushing and not thinking.

Today I put the wood back together with JB Wood Weld.
It has a close color match, and I know damn well just how strong it is.
Of course one will always be able to tell, but she will function again.

The Bakelite butt plate I kind of struggled with.
I could find no satisfactory reference on how to mend that. Too damn many mixed reviews & reports out there.
After some deliberation, I went with Gorilla Glue Two Part Epoxy.
Familiar with that stuff, and it usually binds most materials quite firmly.
The pieces are currently sitting above a heating duct, and I'll let them sit there until tomorrow before testing.

Tonight I'll be packing the 12 gauge shorty, which only fires 2 3/4" shells.
Going to miss my Old Friend that throws 3 inchers into the tightest pattern you've ever seen at distance!
But then again, I am only back-up after all.
And I didn't manage to ruin the single the Lad is using...

Headed back down in an hour or so...

The Quest Continues...

IronNoggin 11-22-2018 03:58 PM

Only the Ladies showed last night.
Just at dark, several kept peeking back into the timber where methinks one of the bucks was lurking.

Nonplussed, my Young Gun is learning, and learning fast it seems.
When we got to his home, he said: "I think there is a possibility that ol' buck is patterning us Buddy. So, I'd like to suggest we rest the spot for a little while. Although I REALLY want to go tomorrow, I do think it might be better to let him think we gave up on him".

Not many first-timers are going to put that little gem together.
So, I strongly agreed, noting I have bear lard to process, and that we head out again tomorrow or the next...

Time is now running short.
I had forgotten they are going on holidays later this week.
Better get at it methinks...

Ol' Betsy got repaired.
So when we head out tonight, she will be riding my shoulder where she belongs again.

Here's Hoping!

IronNoggin 11-22-2018 04:01 PM

I woke up yesterday morning with the feeling that something special was about to happen that day.
Put me in a right good mood to start things off with!
I busied myself cleaning up after the bear fat rendering project.
Couldn't help but notice the humid cold had that kind of bite that secrets it's way inside even layered clothing to gnaw at your very soul!
So, I sent the Young Gun's Pa a request to make damn sure the Lad got WELL bundled up for the coming eve's hunt.
Forecast says only down to 6 or 7 was his reply.
Don't believe it - layer up heavy...

As I went through the mental checklist of requirements for the hunt, I still had the strong feeling that tonight was going to be special.
Learned a hell of a long time ago not to ignore that intuition, and it has largely been right over the years.
Even so, I am always looking for something to help tip the odds in my favor, and it was with that thought I recalled a faded Talisman lurking in the far far depths of the chest of drawers. I will stray briefly from our tale here to explain this...

On my last foray to Africa, I was nine days in on quest for a particularly large and smart old Kudu Bull.
Decided to take a day down to freshen up and take stock.
A Buddy wandered by, and presented me with a T-Shirt which had been printed up in support of the Painted Dog Research going on in Zimbabwe at the time. It will bring you luck he suggested. Well... Why not?
The next day that old Kudu made a HUGE mistake, and crossed my path at 125 yards.
I was wearing the "magic" shirt, and that was it's first.
Over the years, I would wear it but occasionally - when I felt I needed a little something extra to get me where i needed to be.
And time after time, I claimed another success while it was on my back.
Eventually I became somewhat superstitious about the matter, and only spoke about it with my Lady.
She took this in stride of course, and supported my thoughts regarding it's magic. :sHa_sarcasticlol:

Over time, in excess of 40 big game animals have been harvested while that shirt has been on me.
There's a reason I believe in it you see.
These days it is a tattered remnant of it's former self - as many holes as fabric, missing the lower seam, and basically ready to fall apart.
So worn in fact were it now to be washed, it would simply fall apart.
The Missuz only once toyed with the idea of getting shed of it. Once...

So, even though my gut was saying this was probably the day, I carefully unwrapped this Talisman from it's hiding place, and ever so carefully stretched it over my ever-blossoming frame. Still fit! LOL!!

Now armed with my own personal Good Luck Charm, and with fine feelings of impending success, I set off down Island while merrily singing along to the western tunes blaring from the truck's CD player...

IronNoggin 11-22-2018 04:05 PM

Upon arrival I indeed noted our young Lad was well prepped, and good to withstand quite the chill.
As I strode up, he informed both me & his Pa: "I have a rather strong feeling tonight is THE night"!
That brought grins from all of us, and I concurred with the Lad that I shared the exact same feeling.

As we made our way to the hunting grounds, we went over the various hand signals, the need to aim carefully with such a tight choked scattergun, and how our season had progressed thus far. Again he reiterated his instincts were suggesting we might have a chance today, and I still strongly felt the same.

Upon arrival at the blind, we settled into the task of holding perfectly still while absorbing all that nature surrounded us with.
As the time wandered by, I wasn't at first concerned - This is going to happen...
But at about 15 minutes to go to dark, without even a doe, I began to question that...
Could the Lad's & my intuition be so far off?
Has the shirt finally lost it's magic?
As I pondered these things, I began to prepare the "sometimes they simply don't show up" speech in my mind...

Then, a subtle movement in the far left corner of my eye.
A doe. Not just any doe, but the Matriarch Doe.
Her body is as big as any bucks, and she has been around more than long enough to know the ropes.
And she was right there at 30 yards - staring right at me.
But she did not appear overly concerned, and slowly started down the path that would lead her through our shooting window, pausing only long enough to glance back behind her...

Straining I could just make out the swaggering gait of another big body 30 yards behind and farther out than her.
Then the head cleared the brush.
HOLY CHIT!!! :scared0015:
I ever so slowly leaned over and in a barely audible whisper said Get your gun ready - there is a GOOD Buck coming...

The gun went up, slowly as practiced. No noise.
When the hammer went back, the doe FREAKED!
Stiff legged walking for a few seconds, then broke into a trot.
Dammit! If the buck follows suit it will present a pretty difficult shot!
Deciding to back my Young Gun up, I eased Ol' Betsy into play.
Just then I noticed the end of the Lad's barrel was trembling a bit.
Don't blame him a bit I thought...

However as the buck strutted into the edge of our shooting window, the trembling ceased, and the gun was rock steady.
The Big Buck continued his strut, knowing full well he was the King of these parts, and royally showing that off.
Suddenly the shotgun beside me roared, to be following immediately by the sound of buckshot hitting a hard target.
I swung my barrel back and forth, finding no sign of the buck.
Where the hell did he go??
Then, a little flicker of a tail, right where I had last seen him!
I think I knocked him right off his feet said my little Buddy!
aYup! Looks like!

We sat for a few minutes, while I held Betsy on him in case he tried to get up.
Wasn't happening.
I had the Young Gun reload, and hold his gun on the buck while I cleared the blind.
He ain't going to get up he suggested, but still held tight.
Then I did the same while he joined me.

During our quiet stalk over to where he lay, I stayed poised in case of a sudden recovery.
And while doing so kept wondering if there was going to be any "ground shrinkage" between what I thought I saw, and what now lay before us.
There wasn't!

A huge dominant Roman-Nosed four by four with most excellent brow tines!
In fact one of the best Blacktails I have even been in on, and certainly better than any I have taken to date!!

The War Cries broke forth, we hugged and did The Dance of Joy!!
The Young Gun was simply beaming, and I felt as proud of any Man I ever had for this fine young fellow's accomplishment!

IronNoggin 11-22-2018 04:07 PM

A few pictures had to be taken, and although darkness had now descended, the odd one turned out OK:

I think you can tell by his expression just what the Young Gun thought of all that!!

Then it was time to call his Pa. No way the two of us could swing the bugger up onto my endgate!
And after getting the picture sent to him, Dad came a running!
More whoops of Joy, and the Pride literally burst from that Rancher's eyes!
Time to capture that moment alright:

And of course one with the Ol' Curmudgeon that helped a little in the day's success:


IronNoggin 11-22-2018 04:10 PM

We loaded the buck, noting he was damn heavy for a blacktail, and set off for their homestead.
Along the way, the Lad inquired: "Is it normal to shake a little after something like that?"
You Betcha it is, and here's hoping you never lose that! :sHa_shakeshout:
In fact I was shaking a little myself!

Upon arrival and a brief discussion, the Rancher asked me to properly cape the buck for mounting!
That buck will be adorning their home for decades to come, and what a fitting tribute to such a Monarch!!

A few more pictures of course!

And... Tagged Out!

I got to admit that was some of the most FUN I have had in a very long time!
Our intuition was bang on, and it seems the old Talisman still holds a little of it's fine Magic!

Upon cleaning the buck, we discovered he had taken almost the full load of 00 buck in and just behind the onside shoulder.
The lungs were basically burgerized, and it was quite apparent why he had folded so damn quickly!
Very good shot, and way to stay calm and cool under pressure!

The Young Gun stayed with me right through the whole caping and cleaning process, helping every inch of the way!
His Ma and his sister simply had to come and have a boo, and it was awesome to see their eyes bug right out!
Never seen one that big before!
Not too damn many Blacktails even get any bigger was my thought!

The Lad's eyes were still beaming as he wandered off to collect his late dinner.
A VERY Firm Handshake, and a sincere Thank You before doing so!
No problem Kiddo, I likely enjoyed that just as much or even more than you did!

His Pa was simply beaming too!
And thanked me so much I almost felt embarrassed!
But the bond between us grew even more that eve, and I suspect both he, and his Young Man are going to feature prominently in my hunts down the road!

The drive home seemed to fly by, and I was grinning every damn inch of the way!
I was SO hoping to get this fine young man into his first.
A spike or even a deuce would have been fine.
I could not even imagine an outcome this grand!!!
Hell of a Fine "First"!
And although both his Pa & I told him he will be hard pressed to ever beat this one, he confidently replied "I am going to do just that"!
And I sincerely hope I will be right there beside him when he does!!


PS: One Final Note: There will be an epilogue to this adventure. Following Christmas Morning that is...

58thecat 11-22-2018 04:13 PM

That's a gooder blacktail you got there, congrats to all involved.....too bad about the shotty butt stock just consider it a war scar!

When the young fella is old he will realize what he got, been up and down the island and only got a few but not as good as that factor for sure!

gtr 11-22-2018 04:15 PM

Excellent Nog!

Sooner 11-22-2018 04:15 PM

Another great story. Congrats to the young hunter on a fine buck.

Don_Parsons 11-22-2018 04:29 PM

Very humbling to read the thread Nog, I'm soon to bring along a family friend on some of our adventures that struggles to get around these days, I know it will put a smile on his face.

Thanks for sharing.


bitterrootfly 11-22-2018 04:48 PM

absolutely amazing story, and a trophy buck to boot, the real trophy here is the experience you two shared, priceless. Now if only there was a Boone and Crockett story category, this one would be a word record in my books, congratulations!

JD848 11-22-2018 05:19 PM

I really enjoyed the reading,plus the young guy is hooked for life.Good for you on being a very good mentor,something the young lad will never forget.Cheers


bagwan 11-22-2018 09:09 PM

Great job NOG. I spent four years on the island and only saw one animal out of season close to that guy. The young fellow has one heck of a mentor and story teller.

CBintheNorth 11-22-2018 10:40 PM

I can't tell you how much I look forward to reading your write-ups. Very well done EVERY time. Thank you!
I'm sure the young man is hooked for life and will remember that hunt for the rest of his days, and that's saying a lot as he's just getting started. What a way to start too! What a tremendous blacktail...
Congratulations to you both, and thanks for sharing.

Cowboy coffee 11-23-2018 12:04 AM

Awesome story. The boy will be hooked on blacktails foresure. I remember those deer back in the early 90ís on our weapons range before our tour to Croatia. No animals were hurt by DND. They were a welcome sight to a Alberta farm boy. It would make a fine mount. Good job.

3blade 11-24-2018 10:54 PM

Holy smokes!

That is epic, in every sense of the word. My eyes dang near popped out of my head! Absolutely the blacktail of a lifetime. Congrats to your apprentice, and kudos to you Matt. Teaching them right. Wish I could have made it out there this year. Good luck with the rest of the season

IronNoggin 11-26-2018 12:39 PM

Thanks for the kind words Folks! They certainly are Appreciated!

Truly loved teaching that Lad what I could, and the fact he smoked a really great buck was an incredible "Icing On The Cake"!
He's still on cloud nine, and I pretty much am too!

Might make one or two more forays out to the Blacktail grounds before I wander over to the OK for late season archery whitetails...

Letcha know as it goes...


IronNoggin 12-25-2018 12:59 PM


Originally Posted by IronNoggin (Post 3877109)
PS: One Final Note: There will be an epilogue to this adventure. Following Christmas Morning that is...

Christmas Epilogue:

One very surprised and very happy Young Gun!

After our time in the field I chatted with his Pa, and we collectively decided he is now old enough to begin his collection of hunting tools. Proud to offer him his first shotgun (of course the one he tagged that beautiful buck with!) and a great set of binoculars.

Merry Christmas Little Buddy! :sHa_shakeshout:

Right Looking Forward to continuing our adventures this coming fall!


catnthehat 12-25-2018 01:05 PM


pikeslayer22 12-25-2018 01:14 PM


Sitting Bull 12-25-2018 01:25 PM

Just beautiful! heart warming.

tony d 12-25-2018 02:59 PM

Love it

58thecat 12-26-2018 07:00 AM

Now that is what it is all about,

livinthedream 12-26-2018 08:11 AM

Great read! Thanks for sharing.

KUDUHNTR 12-26-2018 08:28 AM

Great story, and read, great job of passing on hunting traditions!

dinohunter 12-26-2018 11:07 AM

thanks for the :)story

nube 12-26-2018 04:03 PM


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