Junior Youth Hunter Essay Winner

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“You got it. I believe in you and your shot.”

By Kayla Atherton, Grade 8

With a sharp intake of breath, I steadied the rifle in my hand, and pinpointed the deer right behind its shoulder…wait, wait, wait. Hold-up a minute. Let’s back-up to about 4 hours earlier when I was just about to head out with my grandfather to our hunting blind for my first youth deer hunt experience.

It was beautiful outside for an autumn day, not too chilly, but just right for an October deer hunt. As I admired my surroundings, my grandpa handed me a bag filled with snacks of his choice, which included apples, peanut butter M&Ms, and a solid pound of Kit-Kats and Hershey bars. I felt like I hit the jackpot and it wasn’t even Halloween yet!

We slowly made our way through the dried golden rod to the hunting blind that was just above a small valley. We settled ourselves in for the late afternoon and my grandpa said, “We better break out the candy. It’s gonna be awhile.”

We waited patiently for the next 3 ½ hours with only a couple of does below us. Finally, a buck revealed himself from the trees! I couldn’t have been more excited in my life!

“Get ready now, Kayla,” my grandpa whispered, also quite excited. “Now aim slightly behind the shoulder,” he repeated.

“I don’t know if I can make that shot,” I replied, with a bit of worry in my voice.

“You got it. I believe in you and your shot,” my grandpa encouraged.

Before I knew it, I took a deep breath, aimed, and pulled the trigger – BANG! The gun shuddered in my hands. We scurried across the valley, not knowing if I made the shot, then I literally stumbled onto the deer. The shot was slightly high, but right behind the buck’s shoulder. I jumped for joy and hugged my grandpa. The six-point buck was my first. My grandpa’s eyes shone with pride. I know this hunt was one I would always remember thanks to my grandpa and his confidence in me.