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Tough to explain how proud I am...once again...of my second daughter Elle as she put a big buck in the dirt...literally!  We knew with all her extracuricular activities she wouldn't have a lot of time to hunt this year.  We only hunted one day in Illinois due to all her basketball practice and games and we had 2 days to hunt in Iowa this year.  Not much time, but with her luck I liked her chances!
On the trip out to the farm we talked a lot about which buck we might go after.  There were a high number of old bucks on the farm that needed shot.  We had a straight south wind and a box blind on a plot that hadn't been hunted but once all year.  I had a Reconyx camera on the that box blind that was overlooking the food plot full of Biologic Maximum and radishes and I knew the deer were back on green.  It was really warm for this time of year, 52 degrees to be exact.  I told Elle her chances were not as good due to the hot weather but this is the only weekend we had to hunt together, so we hoped for the best.
I told her about several of these older bucks and we discussed their names.  We have an obsession with naming deer.  Some people make fun of us for naming all these bucks, but it just makes it easier to talk about a certain buck rather than naming him the big 10 or the forked G2 etc..  My girls love to name these bucks as well!  Gets them more involved in the entire hunting process.  Sometimes I text them when I shoot a deer and their first question is always..."What was his name?".  I love it...so we will always name our bucks!  
I was reminding Elle about the old old buck that had been on the farm for what seemed like forever that we named "DIRT" because he was as old as dirt!  We hadn't paid much attention to him because his antlers were not as tall as some of the other bucks but this year he had a lot of mass.  He was a cool old buck that needed shot and Elle wanted to volunteer.
We got ready and headed to the blind about 2:15pm.  I figured there is nothing better in life than getting to spend 3 full hours with your child, one on one, with no other distractions other than a deer or a turkey interrupting our time together.  During these times many of life's lessons are learned and we talk about everything.  I would encourage any parent to try to go hunting with their child.  When do you get to actually spend this type of "quality" time with your children without television or friends to interrupt?  (I must admit I do allow her to bring her phone for games in case she gets really bored)
I actually brought my laptop computer with me in my backpack so we could grab the card out of the Reconyx camera located below the blind.  We couldn't wait to see what bucks had been in the area the last few days.  We opened the card and went straight to the end and worked backwards so we could see the latest pictures.  Sure enough the buck we called "DIRT" had been a regular to this food plot as well as another newer buck.  This newer buck was a main frame 10 pt with a forked G2.  He was approaching the 160 inch mark it looked like and his body was quite a bit smaller than the Dirt buck.  He looked to be about 4 years old I had guessed.  In the back on my mind I had hoped we wouldn't even see him so I wouldn't be pressured to ask Elle to pass him...but I figured if I expect an old buck like Dirt to show up then this new monster would be out before him.  Elle decided to name this new  big buck Chipotle after one of our favorite restaurants.  When I told her he was only 4 years old she was the one who said I don't want to shoot him.  Lets watch him grow up...I can't wait to see him next year...He will be a giant!  I have to admit I think I was as proud of that statement as anything that happened after....
Well now back to the hunt.  About 3pm I see a nice buck back in the timber heading our way.  I looked through the Nikons and said to Elle...looks like a big 8 point.  Perfect buck to shoot.  Well, as he approached I could tell he was younger than my heart had first told me. I calmed down and had to tell Elle that he wasn't a shooter.  She agreed but then said to me..."Wow Dad my heart was really beating!"  I told her mine was too.  That first buck tends to do that to us hunters...especially when they come in at 3pm with tons of daylight left.  
We waited for another hour or so and then wouldn't you know it...Chipotle appears at a mere 75 yards broadside.  Now my earlier decision to pass as a father was really really testing me.  I knew that this very well might be Elle's biggest buck ever (Even though she shot a 157 7/8 in Iowa 2 years ago)  So, I decided to tell Elle that I was really struggling with this decision when she again makes a statement that I'm proud of..."Dad, I don't care at all...I don't want to shoot him...think how big he will be next year!"  Wow, all these statements are coming out of an 11 year old!!!!!  Sounds like dad is rubbing off on her!!!  In the back of my mind I still wanted to let her shoot him but I also wanted to teach her the same lessons that my friends and I have to go through (on this special farm in Iowa only).  If it was her first buck, then there wouldn't ever be a doubt, but she's shot 2 bucks over 150 for crying out loud.  She's a seasoned pro.  
Well, a few more bucks appeared over the next 10 minutes or so and then something scared one of them and the entire field cleared in a few seconds.  We've all seen this before and the disappointment of thinking "it's over" comes into all of our minds, but we knew there was still plenty of daylight left.  
It didn't take long before Elle says, "Dad, theres a buck...actually 2 bucks Dad!"  I look up to see the second buck coming into the food plot was the old old buck we named Dirt.  I said to Elle "Get your gun ready."  Both our hearts started to go into overdrive again as we knew the moment was near for her to get a shot.  I tried to steady the camera and help her with anything I could (Not an easy task I might add).  I had to open 2 windows, place a glove on the windowsill for a rest for her Traditions muzzleloader as well as try to keep the camera on the buck.  I notice that I seem to worry so much about her making a good steady ethical shot that sometimes my filming skills go to the back burner, but thankfully I had a tripod for this hunt and it took care of itself.  I asked her if she was ready and could see him good in the Nikon scope.  She said I'm ready and I said wait wait...let me get him good on camera and then said "Go ahead" ....Boooooooom!  
DIRT HIT THE DIRT!  Her smile was as big as the JOKERS on the Batman movie!! She was so excited...probably as much as I have ever seen her!  As she was climbing down the ladder of the box blind I had the camera still running and she said, "Dad, that's what I wanted for Christmas!"  Wow, what a present she had and what she doesn't realize is that's exactly what I wanted for Christmas too!
The whole evening was a huge success!  We saw 9 bucks total and not even a doe.  She passed on a giant 4 year old and then shot this older than dirt buck that we were after.  I have to admit... I was happy that she dropped him in the plot and no tracking for dad!  
We got him dressed and in the cooler and then put a Tombstone pizza in the oven and watched a Christmas movie to cap off the evening.  As we both fell asleep on the couch I thanked God for what seemed like a fairy tail, but it was all true.  Both my oldest daughters had harvested really nice bucks this year!  Santa Claus must have got my letter!
Merry Christmas to everyone!
Tom Ware