By Randy Albin
It was midmorning on Nov. 29, 2003, when my grandson Chase overheard a conversation about an evening deer hunt. He went to his mother teary-eyed and asked if he could ask me to take him along. His mother, Suzanne, told him to call and ask.
“Sure, Rabbit, I said, using my nickname for him. “I’ll take you.” Chase is only 6 years old, stands about 4 feet tall, and weighs a whopping 50 pounds. He’s full of energy and can talk the horns off a Billy goat. I knew my hunt would not be its usual quiet self.
Brad Albin, Chase’s dad, had been practice-shooting with him and teaching him firearms safety. At first they used a .22 rifle and then stepped up to a Remington Model 7 youth rifle in 7mm-08. Chase understood firearms safety, and his father said he consistently hit the targets. Even so, I hadn’t seen it myself, so I was unsure of my grandson’s marksmanship.
Whether we had a chance to kill a deer or not, we soon were loaded up and headed to Mississippi. After all, I always have a good time when I’m hunting with one of my grandchildren. When we reached our deer lease about 3:30 p.m., Chase and I headed for Pops’ Stand, which is named for an old-timer who hunted it in earlier years. The stand was leaning a bit and needed repairs, but it was low to the ground and remained safe for our hunting duo.
After we were inside, Chase looked at me and said, “Paw-Paw, this thing is crooked!” I laughed out loud. “OK, boy, we have to be quiet now. We don’t want to scare the deer off,” I warned while suppressing my laughter.
Waiting & Watching
I watched Chase scope items on the ground to make sure he could make an accurate shot if a deer came out. Unfortunately, he couldn’t see through the openings without standing on his tip-toes. I set him on my knee and had him repeat the spotting exercises. This time he could see and aim much better. I told him, “You look right over there along the wood-line, and I’ll look straight ahead toward the food plot.”
After about 30 minutes, a doe entered the grassy patch and I asked Chase if he wanted to shoot it. Chase asked if that was legal. I laughed again, struggling to control my volume! “Yes, we’re in Mississippi and it’s legal to harvest a doe,” I said. Chase wasn’t convinced. He said, “Then you shoot it.” I think he was testing to see if I was joshing him. We decided to wait a while. I told him he could shoot the doe later if nothing larger came out before dark.
About 30 minutes later another doe entered the food plot and began eating alongside the first doe. We watched them for a while, and followed their stare when they held their heads high and looked west toward a well-traveled deer trail. I told Chase to get ready because another deer was approaching. Soon after, about 5:10 p.m., a 7-point buck walked into sight, went straight to a low-hanging branch and started hooking it with his antlers.
I pointed Chase’s rifle out the window and helped support it by resting my hand under it on the window ledge. As Chase settled in behind the scope, I told him to take good aim at the shoulder, just as he had done during his drills earlier that evening.
“Can you see the deer?” I asked. “Have you got the crosshairs on the shoulder?” Chase said he did, so I eased off the rifle’s safety and told him to squeeze the trigger when he had it on the right spot. Chase popped off a shot and the big buck lunged. At first I thought he had missed. The deer ran straight ahead and fled the food plot, but then circled to the left back toward the plot. When it re-entered the grassy patch we could see it was hit.
It dropped after only a few more steps. It was time for high fives and a big hug from his shocked Paw-Paw. We left the deer alone for a few minutes, but then Chase could wait no longer. We climbed out and headed toward the young hunter’s trophy.
When we reached the 7-pointer, I made sure it was down for good and then told Chase it was safe to approach. As he admired the buck, he said, “Paw-Paw, I have to do a dance!” (I guess that’s some of the French heritage from his mother’s side, Suzanne Fontenot Albin!) Chase did his “Tiger Rag” dance in the middle of the food plot while I laughed out loud and said, “Boy, I wish I had this on video.”
We then rolled the buck over and saw Chase had shot the heart. He asked, “Paw-Paw, are you proud of me?” That’s when the tears hit, and I grabbed him with a reassuring hug and said, “I am very proud of you, Rabbit!”
We called Brad and Suzanne to tell them about Chase’s success. Suzanne was Christmas shopping in a Baton Rouge mall when Chase told her about his first buck. She screamed out loud that her son had killed a 7-point buck, which drew some looks in the busy post-Thanksgiving mall! Brad was in Waterproof, La., on a duck hunt and was scheduled to return the next day. When Chase told him the news, Brad changed his plans and drove the 170 miles home, almost beating Chase and me to their house in Walker, La. When we arrived, a large crowd was waiting to see Chase and his buck. After a barrage of photos and storytelling, we weighed the buck, which tipped the scale at 170 pounds.
Chase said he wanted to give everyone in the family some venison, and I began working on Suzanne to see if Chase’s trophy would adorn the den in their new home. We also began negotiations to get his bedroom decorated in camouflage.
Chase is my second grandson, and I hope I can enjoy as many hours with him as I have with my oldest grandson, Devyn, the son of Randy and Kim Albin. Devyn and has killed seven deer, six of which were with me.
I’m also looking forward to hunting trips with my four granddaughters, Chase’s younger sister, Caitlin Rose Albin, Ali Elizabeth Albin, Devyn’s little sister, Maycie Marie Helton, and Madi Mary Helton daughter of Richard and Mary Albin Helton.
Such memories and future plans always bring a smile to my face. Family. That’s what deer hunting is all about!