January 16: Eli Hampton

 I remember making Eli a promise this summer. When we realized he would probably not be able to pull back the minimum draw weight for compound bow hunting, I told him that we would get him a crossbow to allow him to Archery hunt during the late season in Arkansas. It was just a day or two later that I found out that we actually won a PSE Fang on one of the legs of Dream Season.  This was awesome timing on my part to say the least, but Eli was so excited that it was all he would talk about for weeks.  A friend of mine that I was working with had a crossbow and let us borrow it so he could start practicing.  It came natural to him and he was hitting the bullseye fairly quickly. When the Fang came to the house in October, we quickly got it sighted in.  I was amazed at how hard it was shooting and the accuracy was phenomenal.  I ruined 2 arrows fairly quickly at 30 yards when I tried to shoot the block target in the same spot.  When it costs you, you learn I guess!  Eli is 8 years old & he was stacking them in there just as well as I was. During early season we didn't get a chance to make it out.  Arkansas has 2 months to archery hunt after gun season, so I knew we'd get the opportunity to crossbow hunt several days.

   Eli took a nice 9 pt during the gun season, but all he could talk about after that was bowhunting with the crossbow. I had spent 10 days in Iowa during the first part of January.  After stopping by Cabela's on my way home to pick up some more bolts for the crossbow, Eli began shooting the fang to get used to the crossbow again.  He was shooting awesome and we were ready to get out there to hunt.  We got in a groundblind on a 6 foot platform overlooking a Trophy Oat food plot.  The deer had been hammering the plot all fall.  After checking the Reconyx camera, they were still coming.  With no pressure on the plot, lots of deer were daylighting.  We were after a mature doe for food quite honestly, but there was an 8 point that had been frequenting the plot as well.  Eli seems to love the camera, so after several interviews we began our 1st father/son bowhunt together.  After about an hour, a group of 4 doe and yearlings began feeding towards our location.  At 30 yards, the biggest doe offered a broadside shot.  At the shot, the doe did not drop out like we expected. The bolt went just under her and ended up missing cleanly.  Eli was upset immediately. He was trying to hold them back, but the tears began to roll.  I explained to him that all of us miss from time to time and that we still had plenty of time to get another shot at another deer.  I told him, "You never know, that 8 point may still show up before dark."  That was the trick, he pepped back up and began to hunt again.  

   About 30 minutes before sundown, I spotted a buck coming towards the food plot.  It was the 8 point I had told Eli about.  He walked by us in bow-range stopping several times.  Every time he would stop, Eli could not shoot due to limbs, trees, or bad angles.  Finally, the buck circled the foodplot and actually came in from the opposite side of where we first saw him.  Filming right over his shoulder, the buck offered him a perfect broadside shot.  He took careful aim and squeezed the trigger. The sound confirmed a hit, but the deer turned into the arrow at the shot.  I watched it back to check the entry point which looked great.  After finding the arrow, we decided to back out.  The temperatures were to be in the high twenty's over night which made the decision easy.  The next morning, we returned to find that the Hypodermic performed as expected. The deer had only gone around 90 yards and was within sight of the food plot.  Eli was super pumped and
so was I! 

If you want to get your kids into archery at an early age, I highly recommend crossbow hunting where legal.  We only hunted one day, but now have memories that will last a lifetime!

Thanks to my cousin Brian Devlin for coming out and helping us, we really appreciate it... And thank God for helping us to cap off another 10 deer year for Team Reconyx! 

Doug Hampton