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Mike Roux: Making memories, and building a man

  • Apprentice deer hunter Connor Dietrich is pretty proud of his deer.

    Apprentice deer hunter Connor Dietrich is pretty proud of his deer.
    Photo by Grandpa Mike

 
By Mike Roux
Outdoors columnist
updated: 12/12/2018 1:28 PM

Nancy and I are blessed with five kids. We are double-blessed with five grandchildren, as well. Not all of my kids have embraced the hunting lifestyle and that's fine. It's still too early, but not all of my grandchildren appear to be interested, either.

Six year-old Connor (CJ) is the exception so far.

CJ loves to fish in the summer. The little stinker has gotten pretty good at it, too. But when the temps begin to cool and it's time to put on the orange, he really starts to get excited. He knows that those are sure signs of deer season.

He will sit with me for hours looking at my lifetime of deer hunting in the photographs that document my 56 seasons in the deer woods. CJ wants to hear all the stories associated with every picture.

In 2017, when he was 5, I took him and his older brother Ayden to the blind with me one evening during the first weekend of firearms season. Unfortunately we did not see any deer that day. But it did not dampen his enthusiasm.

The season prior to that Ayden came with me to the same blind and we brought home a nice doe. Ayden was having friends over to celebrate his birthday so he passed this year. For the first time it would be just CJ and me.

Connor Jr. is just like his dad, Connor Sr. Getting up early is not one of his favorite things to do. So a Saturday afternoon in the blind with Grandpa Mike was our plan. With cushioned seats, snacks and a small propane heater, just in case, our hunt would be comfortable at the very least. The one thing I learned early on as I taught CJ's three uncles the sport of deer hunting was to keep them comfortable the first few trips so as not to turn them off.

I picked CJ up about 11:30 and we swung in and got him a quick haircut. Then we were off to the farm to meet up with my best friend John Caldwell. It's John's family farm where we hunt. John is so gracious and such a great host to my boys and me. He is like my brother and an extra grandfather to my boys.

CJ's Uncle Parker and I had set up the blind earlier. We had everything already in the blind that we would need, including a doe decoy.

The blind I prefer is the new Model 300 made by Rhino Blinds. Rhino makes a variety of great blinds but I prefer the 300 -- it folds up small and is easy to transport. It also provides me enough room to bring guests like CJ or a cameraman if needed. I also use this blind in the spring for turkey hunting.

It was 35 degrees with a slight north wind and a small chance of a snow flurry. I had two antlerless-only permits to fill. I prayed that we would at least see a deer on this, his second trip. He was so excited as we got to the blind and set the decoy 20 yards out into the cut cornfield.

I knew it would be a couple of hours before any deer movement so we passed the time talking about school, playing word games and munching on the snacks Grandma Nancy had packed for us. CJ's job was to "check the perimeter" every 10 minutes. He would sneak around inside the blind looking out every window. It was a blast for me to watch.

At about 4:30 I saw a doe step out into the field about 150 yards out. I told CJ and he stepped to the window. "Grandpa!" he whispered excitedly. "There's not one deer out there, there's four!" I grabbed my binoculars and quickly confirmed his findings.

I needed to get them closer before I could even think about shooting. I got my calls and made the loudest bleat I could make. All four heads popped up and looked right at us. The decoy was directly between us and them. They quickly started moving our way. I grabbed my shooting stick and made ready.

They stopped at 70 yards and I told CJ to hold his ears and watch. With my shot one deer went straight down. "Wow!" CJ said. "Do it again!" So I did and another doe hit the ground.

My young partner could not wait to get out of the blind and go check out our deer. The other two did not leave the field until we had passed the decoy. As soon as they were gone my 6 year-old grandson and I stopped to say a prayer of thanks to the Good Lord for these amazing gifts. Together we were making memories ... and building a man.

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