December 9: Coltin Hampton

As told by Doug Hampton:

It was nearly noon on December the tenth when I plugged the compact flash card from the Reconyx game camera into my computer. " We've got him son!", I shouted to Coltin, who is my 13 year old son. "Big Red" had finally walked in front of the camera at our Biologic food plot. That is when the zero degree temperature, suddenly became our greatest asset...

Rod and I study our pictures from our Reconyx cameras almost daily. After seeing the night time photo's of Big Red in the food plot, I immediately went back to last years pictures at the same location. The one consistent common denominator, was that all of the daylight pictures of mature bucks occurred when the mercury went below 20 degree's. And to top it off, they usually came to eat on a daily basis until the temperatures warmed back over that magical number! That is when it became a no-brainer. "Son, we're headed to the food plot," I told him as we walked out of the cabin.

Just two days before, my wife Brandy had taken her first buck on a bean field that had about one half of an acre of crops still standing.( See journal entry on Dec.7th) The very next day, we returned to the same location to see if lightning might indeed strike twice. With about an hour before dark, a 130 class nine point made his appearance. Colt had already told me that he was not going to shoot the deer if he was given the opportunity, and glancing from the view finder to the young hunter, I noticed he was sticking to his guns. Coltin's "close but no cigar" encounter with a big 9x5 buck during the early youth season, at the same location, was obviously still heavy on his mind. I was very proud of the decision that he had made. " You know, that was a good buck you passed Colt. Most people would have loved to put a tag around that bucks antlers." A few moments passed before he responded. " I will put my tag on him dad... But it will have to be next year when I do". I smiled at the clever, yet sincere answer that he had come up with.

So back to the afternoon of the tenth. We left the cabin and stopped by the local cafe to grab a bite to eat. We had ate there the day that Brandy had harvested her buck, so Coltin insisted that we do everything the exact same way. He wanted the same waitress, the same thing to eat, and we had to sit at the exact same table. "Table 13, that's where we've got to sit!" Colt blurted out loud enough that the whole cafe turned around to see what the commotion was about. Just a family of out of state rednecks dressed in Mossy oak, were the looks that we were receiving. But hey, If the shoe fits, we'll wear it. As I was stepping out the door after eating, Colt made me come back to the table and knock over #13 sign, just the same way I clumsily did a few days prior. Good thing we're not superstitious! yeah, right!

We arrived at the food plot and Coltin entered the blind first. As I climbed in, Coltin had already taken up residence in our one and only folding chair. "where are you gonna sit dad", he joked as I realized that we had taken the other chair to the bean field blind to compensate for our previous family trio." Ooooh Noooo!", I said with no time available to go get another one. "Hey son, help me close the blind if you will?". Yep, he fell for it, I thought as I quickly swiped the chair from the novice hunter. "Now where are "you" gonna sit?" I smiled as he realized that he had been had. Don't worry, he lashed his hunting guide pretty good in his pre-hunt interview.

So Colt settled in to his invisible chair on the ground, as I began scanning the wood lines for any sign of movement. Seven does and yearlings came into the Biologic Maximum just minutes after we were settled. Things were looking pretty good. Key word, "WERE" looking pretty good, until I heard some rustling in the woods behind us. Every deer pulled a Houdini act! They totally left the plot before I cold even start to guess what the problem could be. "Come here boy!", The neighbor yelled, as his dog cruised the edge of our fence line close enough that we could hear him panting. "Oh that is sweet!", I said in the most sarcastic tone. " 15 degree's! Come on boy, lets go for a freakin' nature walk in the woods during the gun season!" I angrily, sarcastically said. It was too late to get to another stand, so we decided to half-heartedly keep hunting. After all, the wind was perfect, and blowing just hard enough that it could have possibly kept any other deer from hearing the crazy episode.

Not too long after, a small spike stepped from behind a large ceder tree. I got Colt's attention as he sat on the nice dirt floor that he had hand swept out to keep from making any noise during his occasional comfort movements. He flashed his phone to me to show what he had just posted on facebook."Not having very much luck while hunting," he had just wrote. Tracy Drury had immediately replied ," well I'm sending some luck your way!". I laughed quietly as I turned to look back in the direction of the 'snibley' buck that had just appeared . And that's when I saw him! I gasped to catch my breath, and then immediately grabbed the camera. "Oh my gosh son, It's him!" Colt came up quickly and quietly as he rested his Thompson Center Pro Hunter on the shooting stick that was already in place. The buck walked into the plot, surveyed his surroundings, and began to indulge himself in the lush Biologic. "Can you take him there son?", I asked, hoping for a positive response. "No, he's behind the trees", Colt responded. Another half-racked, yet mature buck, came up from behind the giant and began to survey the plot for himself before starting to eat. About ten minutes later, 'Big Red', the oldest buck that we have documented, turned to our right and walked out into a clear opening. He was now offering my son the chance of his young lifetime. I told him not to shoot. The end of his barrel had become pushed into the front of the blind! I reached up and re-situated the barrel on his rest and then quickly got the buck framed in the camera's view finder. He took a few more steps and then raised his head and looked right at us. He posed just like a buck that would grace the cover of a magazine. "Any time your ready son", I whispered. Colt steadied the rifle and squeezed the trigger. The 6 year old whitetail buckled at the sound of the shot! A flood of emotions rushed through the hearts and minds of the two of us as we realized that Colt had just taken the biggest buck that either of us have ever harvested!

After walking up on the buck that we had been after for the last 3 seasons, we stopped to give thanks to our Lord and Savior for the awesome and unforgettable hunt that we were a part of. And then, the celebration began!

We would like to thank the landowners for allowing us the privilege of hunting their farm. And also we want to thank Rod and our "taxidermist buddy" John, for coming down in August to plant the Biologic that sealed the deal in drawing the great buck to us during the frigid Kansas temperatures.

Colt had offered to let Brandy hunt until she killed her first buck. His patience and unselfishness had truly paid off. I guess the best things really do come to those that wait!

My family and I are truly thankful for the unbelievable week that we have had. We harvested 3 bucks in a 5 day period, that when added together, account for 457"s of antler. Team Harts 6th, 7th, and 8th bucks are on the ground! The memories that we have made, and captured on video, can only be summed up with two words... "DREAM SEASON"!!!