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Teach young hunters 'safety first'

his is the first year the grandsons have carried guns during deer season. It is an exciting time to say the least.

Zane, 7, and Trevor, 9, have had extensive experience with hunting and target shooting with direct supervision, but there is something more intense about going big game hunting for the first time.

We hunt by part of the crew walking through the woods, hoping to drive the deer out of the timber, and the rest of the people blocking, hoping to be in the right place to get a shot as the deer pass. Trevor decided to come with me to block and Zane went on drive with his dad.

There was a lot to teach Trevor about his first time on stand with a shotgun. We stood together at the edge of a hayfield behind a cedar tree. The deer would be coming out of the timber, cross a couple hundred yards of pasture and jump the fence into the hayfield, hopefully close enough to get a shot.

The first thing Trevor learned was a blocker needed to wear a lot of clothes. Standing perfectly still for anywhere between a few minutes to eternity before the deer come out of the woods can be long enough to freeze almost to death.

When the deer started across the pasture heading our way, we both forgot about the cold. A group of does ran straight at us and Trevor started to raise his 20 gauge. I whispered, "No, they have to be past us." We knew approximately where our drivers were but not exactly enough to shoot toward the timber.

When he lowered his gun, the lead deer saw the movement and turned back. He was disappointed he spooked the first deer of the day but realized he could not take a shot. A few minutes later, another deer jumped the fence beside us, ran out into the hayfield and stopped. I told Trevor that was his deer. He pulled up, shot and missed by several feet. I have seen him shoot sporting clays, trap, squirrels and ducks without missing a beat.

We call it buck fever when a person gets so excited they cannot make an easy shot. When his grandpa, backing him up just in case of such a happening misses the backup shot, it is called lousy shooting.

In spite of our lack of success, Trevor decided he would stay with me. During the weekend, I do more blocking than driving, and we had the clothes for it. Blocking is a lot less work and if a person is in the right place, they get as much or more opportunities to shoot.

After lunch, Trevor and I were resting peacefully behind a cedar tree across from Strawberry Hill. A full stomach, a warm sun and soft grass in the pasture is not a good combination. I can only imagine how upset our drivers would be if they walked a half mile of ditches and rose bushes only to find all the deer in the world had ran past their sleeping blockers.

We managed to stay awake and relatively quiet until we heard the rustle of leaves as a group of deer broke for the pasture. Trevor readied his gun as the deer started past us. He was looking for a mature doe to pass just the perfect spot for him to take a shot. Bucks, and more bucks, one doe, and more bucks. I saw a doe heading directly at us and whispered for Trevor to look to his left. He was still searching for the perfect doe in the pack of bucks.

"Trevor," I said more forcefully. "There is a doe coming right at us!" He swung left and was startled to see a deer about 15 feet from us. She dodged right about the time he drew a bead and fired. It was a clean miss and caused the parade of deer to pick up their pace as they ran over the hill out of sight.

Zane did not get a deer either, but got to know the farm better one step at a time driving deer with Damon. Everybody in the group got to do some shooting and before the weekend was out, we got enough deer to have food to last the winter. The most important thing was the boys are on the way to learning about how to hunt successfully and safely.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.