November 18: Bailey Klemmensen

I have been either behind the camera or behind the bow to see the demise of three big whitetails so far in 2011; but the 168, 156, and 171 all were outdone this past weekend as the highlight of my season. The highlight came during the first Illinois shotgun season when Bailey, my 10 year old son, harvested his very first whitetail buck. What an absolute wonderful experience that I will certainly never forget!!! Last year Bailey took his first deer, a small doe fawn. This year he had his mind set that he wanted to get his first buck. Bailey had a lot going against him; school, sports, his dad’s busy schedule, and the fact that he would now be splitting my time in the deer woods with his younger sister would not make it easy. Joe Gizdic invited the kids to hunt Illinois’ youth season at his place, Tall Tine Outfitters and my hunting partner, Tom Ware, invited them to hunt Missouri’s youth season. Wow…..how awesome is that?!! I told Bailey, your sister gets to go on one hunt and you get to go on the other; you choose. What a decision….chocolate cake or apple pie!?! Bailey made a wise choice….he chose the rut in Missouri and let his sister hunt the second week of October in Illinois. What a nice brother; letting his sister go first!! Then he got a break…..his sister had two opportunities to shoot a deer at Joe’s and decided that she wasn’t quite ready….which also meant that Bailey would no longer be splitting time with her!! Bailey and I saw a pile of deer in Missouri including a giant buck that Tom named Spot….unfortunately, the window of opportunity was very small on the bruiser and the young hunter and his cameraman dad didn’t get it done. Bailey was so disappointed….but there was still hunting to be done!!

So now comes Illinois’ gun season and we are hunting a friend’s farm in Brown County. This farm is where my dad shot his first buck many moons ago and where I had taken my first buck; so maybe this is how it was supposed to happen. The first morning, we had an encounter with a 2 year old 8-pointer that never gave Bailey a clean shot. The second day we spooked a few deer getting to the stand and then only saw one small doe. Bailey was getting anxious and wanted to leave at 8:30 am. It was a great morning and we were positioned perfectly downwind of a known bedding area overlooking a draw. I felt confident that bucks would be cruising down in that draw which kept them out of the wind the 20 mph, so I implored Bailey to stay till 10:00. My hunch was correct, at around 9:30 this buck came walking through and Bailey put the perfect shot on him. In fact, as we field-dressed the deer, we found that his slug had went right through the middle of his heart!!

WOW…..watching that buck go down was awesome! Watching Bailey shake with excitement was priceless and hearing him tell the story to my father, family, and friends brings joy to my heart. Yes, this past weekend was truly magical. It also brought back other special memories…..like holding a baby boy in 2001and watching him open his eyes for the first time.

Hunt Safe, Klem.