When it’s your son about to pull the trigger on a buck, it’s not always clear whose nerves are tenser.

This buck that Eli killed was a stranger to him and his dad Doug until November. It wasn’t until then that he began showing up in Reconyx pictures on their Kansas property. They’d never actually laid eyes on the deer, though his core zone seemed to incorporate the south ridge on their land. Because of his home range and scoreable points, they nicknamed him, “The South Ridge Nine”

On December 6th, the father and son duo decided to hunt a bean field to take advantage of a favorable northwest wind. At 4:30 a small buck ventured into the green and close behind him, a larger deer was making his way through the brush.

Doug recognized him immediately as The South Ridge Nine, but didn’t want to tell Eli for fear of him getting buck fever and missing the shot. Instead, he said that he would only tell him if it was a shooter or not.

“Eli, that’s a shooter buck coming. Get ready.”

Eli’s excitement grew. His breathing and heart rate increased as Doug offered more guidance.

“Don’t be nervous. You’ve done this before. You know what to do. Don’t be nervous.”

“Dad, you’re the one that’s shaking. I have done this before.”

Eli was right. He was nervous but in control. Doug was anxious for his son, but confident he could pull off the shot.

The buck hopped a fence just under 90 yards away. Once he was broadside, Eli put a solid hit on him with his Winchester Featherlite Model 70. Father and son performed a successful recovery and  together closed the book on the short story of The South Ridge Nine.


As told to Tim Kjellesvik.