A Hunters View by Frank Sears
This story takes place over a few months time period, from the early spring of 1987 through November 1st 1987.
I was fresh out of the U.S. Army; I just got home from Germany. I had accepted a job with a local carpet cleaning company. One morning I went into work and noticed that my boss’s 10 year old son was looking at a couple of hunting magazines. I looked down at him and said “Tyler, has your Dad ever taken you hunting?” He just looked at me and shook his head no. His Dad asked me to come into his office. I did just that, He said, “Frank, I don’t know what to do, for some reason, Tyler has this crazy urge to go hunting. I know he has heard a couple of his friends in the area talk about going hunting with their Fathers.” I said, “So, why don’t you take him hunting? Just once?”
The Father then looked at me and told me that he could never hunt again. His Father had been killed in a hunting accident when he was only 9 years old himself. However, he did remember the joy of going hunting with his Father. Unfortunately, he was there the day when his father was accidentally shot by another Archer, that they had no idea he was anywhere near. I could understand now where he was coming from. I asked my Boss then if he would mind if sometime I took Tyler to the woods with me, maybe just to look around, find some tracks, a few signs and things of that sort. He looked at me in a really serious manner and said, “ You would do that?” I told him I would gladly take him to the woods with me.
On Saturday of that same week, I had decided to go to the woods to look around. I called and talked to my Boss “Roy”. I asked him if I could take Tyler to the woods with me that morning. He said that would be great. Then he wanted me to ask Tyler myself. So I heard him call in the other room and say, “Tyler, the phone is for you.” Tyler came to the phone saying “hello” I said, “Tyler, this is Frank, I was wondering if you would like to go to the woods with me this morning to do some scouting?” He replied “Frank, I’m not in Scouts anymore.” I said, “No, not Scouts, you know, scouting for deer and just looking at nature.” He said, “ OH MY GOSH, are you kidding me?” Tyler was then hesitant for a minute and I heard him ask his Father if it was alright. His Father said yes and told him to ask me what time I would be there to pick him up and when would we return. I said I would pick him up at 10:00am and return by 3:00pm. They agreed with this.
I picked Tyler up at about 10:00 and we were off to the woods. For about the first 15 minutes, it was dead silent in the truck. Finally I asked him what had interested him in hunting. He told me that his best friend Robbie went hunting with his Dad a lot and told him about their hunts after he would get home. Then he said that he could not ask his Dad to take him hunting. He knew the reason why his Father wouldn’t go hunting. His Father did not know he was aware of why. I asked him how he knew about this. He told me that he was reading a book about hunting at his Grandmothers house one day, and his Grandma asked him if he knew what happened to his “Gramps”? He had said no, so she told him what had happened. So out of respect for his father, he never asked to go hunting.
We arrive at the woods about 10:45am. I start to get out of the truck to open the gate, so we can pull off the road. Tyler said, “Frank, I’ll get the gate, that’s what Buddy’s are for aren’t they?” I smiled with a huge grin and replied, ”Yes!”
We are walking across the field towards the woods and Tyler is commenting about how big the woods looks, as we are getting closer. About that time he looks down and real quietly says “Frank, is that a deer track” surprisingly I replied yes. Tyler thought that was really amazing, he had been looking at deer tracks in his magazines for a long time but had never seen one in real life. As we walk along the field and near the edge of the woods, the deer tracks and signs are growing greater. Tyler is looking and repeating, “There’s some, and more over there, and there… Wow, Frank there is a gazillion deer tracks out here!!” He was really excited. So we walked around in the woods for a while. I took him to a tree stand on the edge of the woods and told him about tree stands. He said that Gramps was hunting on the ground when his accident happened. He related to Gramps accident quite a lot. He said that if he would hunt from one of those tree stands, he would have to use some kind of safety belt like he had seen in hunting magazines. I told him he was right. Always put safety first in hunting!
Now it’s near about 1:00 in the afternoon. I asked Tyler if he was getting tired and hungry. He said, “No, I really like walking around in the woods and you have really shown me a lot of neat things in the woods and about deer hunting.” So, we decided to go set on the edge of the woods near a creek for awhile, a place where I had seen deer all times of the day previously. We get to this spot, just set down and we see something moving half way across the field. Tyler asked me if I thought it was a deer. I told him to be very quiet and we would set and wait to see. He said, “What if it takes longer than how much time we have left?” I still said lets just wait awhile them maybe we will sneak to the other side of the creek and look from there. So we waited about 15 minutes longer and from the left of us, right along the creek bank, about 20 yards away, were. 3 does. I seen Tyler’s head perk up and look, he tapped me on the leg and whispered “3 DEER!” I said, “Yeah, be extremely still and they might come closer.” They came across the creek and within about 10 yards of us. Tyler was just beside himself in excitement. The deer then slowly walked along the creek to the backside of the woods. I looked down at my watch and seen that it was already 2:00. I told Tyler we had to head back to the truck. He talked all the way back to the truck and all the way back to his house about seeing those 3 deer. I told him that I was kind of amazed that they came so close because, we were not camouflaged with the woods. I told him that the wind was coming from them to us and not from us to them. He said he understood, he had read about how well a deer can smell in his magazines.
We arrive back at his house at 3:00pm sharp. Tyler runs in the house to his Dad and says, “Dad, you are not going to believe this!” We seen like a gazillion deer tracks, Frank showed me some tree stands, and we even had 3 does really close to us!!” 3 of them can you believe it?” He was so happy and excited. Roy looked at me and I nodded yes. I asked Tyler if he would like to go scouting with me again. He asked if we could go the next day. I told him I wouldn’t be going to the woods again until the next Saturday, and if it’s ok with his Dad, He is more than welcome to be my Scouting Buddy. Roy said that it is ok; he can go with me anytime I go, as long as we are safe.
After a month or so more of scouting, Tyler asked me one day if I thought he could ever actually hunt with me. I told him this is something that we would have to discuss with his Father. He understood. So, we went back to his house after scouting that day and Roy was in his office, Tyler and I went in and set down. He asked if we had a good time in the woods today. We both of course replied, “Yes”. Tyler then looked at his Dad and said, “Dad, I know about what happened to Gramps” His Dad replied, “Oh you do?” and glared at me evilly. Tyler said “Dad, Frank didn’t tell me about it, Grandma told me a long time ago.” Roy looked shocked. Tyler said that he would never bring it up or ask him to go hunting because he didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
Tyler then said to his Father “ Dad, I know how you feel about hunting. I know that it hurt you very bad about Gramps. It would hurt me really bad if anything ever happened to you.” We all were starting to get some tears flowing now. Then Tyler said “Dad, I know that Gramps loved to hunt, I know that you loved to hunt when you were my age, I was wondering if I could maybe go hunting with Frank this fall? He didn’t ask me to go, I asked him if he thought I might be able to go and he said that we would have to discuss this with your Dad.” Roy looked at me and asked me what I think about it. I told him that Tyler has read a lot more about hunting than he realizes. He knows all of the safety issues; he really seems to be very aware of safety and wants to always put safety first. I was shocked when Roy said, “just a minute and I’ll be right back” When he returned, he was carrying a large black trash bag with an envelope attached. He handed it to Tyler. Tyler said, “Dad, can’t I wait till Franks gone to take out the trash?” Roy said “ Tyler, open the bag” Tyler opened the bag and inside was a brand new compound bow that was made by Martin Archery. Tyler was speechless. I was speechless. Roy then looked at me and told me to teach Tyler the ins and outs of shooting that bow and all of the safety matters of shooting that bow and hunting. Over the next month, we scouted and practiced shooting every Saturday. Roy told me that every day Tyler would shoot that bow for a couple hours. At this point he was as good of a shot with it from 20 yards as I was! Roy was very proud to see his son doing so well with the bow and being so interested in archery. We even got Roy out in the yard a couple times to give it a shot! We kept scouting and shooting over the summer. September came and Tyler’s Birthday was the on the 15th. I believe it was on a Thursday; I stopped by their house after I got off work that day to tell him Happy Birthday and give him the present I had got him. (A dozen arrows and broadheads). When I got there, Tyler was in the yard shooting his bow. He was surprised to see me there during the week. I looked at him & handed him the box and said Happy Birthday. He opened the box and was VERY surprised to see that dozen arrows and broadheads. His Dad walked outside on the patio and said “Well Son, looks like you’re almost ready to go hunting next month” His Mother was already out there watching him shoot. His Father then told him that “Gramps” had sent him a birthday present also. Everyone seemed so quiet then. So Roy handed Tyler this wrapped box. Tyler opened it and found a complete set of camouflage, and almost any hunting accessory you could imagine.
Roy looked at Tyler then and said “ Tyler, Gramps is keeping a watch over you. He will see that you are safe while hunting, I believe the he has put the spirit of hunting back into our family within you.” I’ll tell you at this point, I was crying my eyes out. I told Tyler that I would be picking him up that Saturday morning about 4:00am so we could get in the woods before the sunup. He said GREAT! I’ll see you then. So I went home for the evening, I could not get over what Roy had just said to Tyler about the spirit of hunting being put back into their family. We continued scouting 3 evenings and 2 mornings until a week before Archery Season opened. Back then it opened on the 15th of October.
2 days before opening day, I called Tyler to ask him if he was ready. We had made arrangements with his parents for him to come to my house the night before Opening Day to spend the night. When I called, Tyler’s Mother told me that he was very sick and they were taking him to the Doctor in a couple hours. He was sleeping then and couldn’t come to the phone. I told her not to disturb him, I would stop by that evening to see him. Later that evening, Tyler’s Father called me right before I left my house to go see him. Roy told me that they had to admit Tyler in the hospital. He had Pneumonia, Bronchitis and was dehydrated really bad. I asked Roy if I could go see him. He said to wait a day or so. So I called daily to see how he was. Two days passed and it was Opening Day. I did not go to the woods, I went to the hospital to see Tyler. I walked in his room and he looked at me surprised and said, “ Frank, what are you doing here? It’s Opening Morning!!!!” I told him I couldn’t go hunting without my Hunting Buddy! I told him he needed to get well so he could go with me. He told me that he really felt bad about getting sick and not being able to go. I told him not to worry that there would be a lot more Opening Days in his life. Tyler smiled and said “Thanks Buddy!”
After a week Tyler was released from the hospital and was almost begging to go to the woods to hunt that weekend. His parents told him that he should give it a week or so to make sure he is ok since it was starting to get chilly outside. He agreed with them but wasn’t real happy about the situation.
I stopped by the evening he got home to see how he was doing. He told me he was fine but his Mom and Dad wouldn’t let him go hunting that weekend.
So I told him I had to go out of town until October 30th, and that maybe we could go hunting that weekend on November 1st. Tyler was starting to smile again. Roy came in the room and I asked him if he thought November 1st would be ok? He said it would be great. So I said goodbye to Tyler and told him I would see him on the 31st for an overnighter (with approval from his Dad) and that we would hit the woods early on the 1st!!
October 31st 1987, I picked Tyler up after school. We went out for supper, then to a local sporting goods store and purchased a couple hunting videos.
We went back to my house, watched the videos and ate some popcorn. I looked over at the couch around 10:00pm and Tyler was sound asleep. I went into my room and went to bed. About 3:00am on the following morning, I heard Tyler yell in my room. “FRANK IT’S OUR OPENING DAY!!” I was about scared half to death! So I got up, made some coffee, had some breakfast, Tyler had some breakfast. Then we got everything together and headed out to the woods. We got to the woods about 5:00 am.
We got out of the truck, and started to walk to the woods. Tyler looked at me and asked where my safety belt was. I told him that it was worn out and I was going to hunt from the ground. He looked at me and said “No your not, here” and handed me a brown bag. He had bought me a new safety harness with his own money. Want to talk about something bringing tears to your eyes? I gave that Little Buddy of mine a huge hug and said,” Let’s go find some deer!” So we began the track across the field. We get to two stands I had set up in this woods about 60 yards apart, right in the area where we had seen those 3 deer the first time we went to the woods. I led Tyler over to his stand. He got up into it, I handed him his bow and said “Good Luck!” He whispered, “Good Luck to you too Buddy!” I went to my stand. We heard a lot of twigs snapping and a lot of leaf scuffing before daylight. These two stands were close enough that I could see Tyler in his stand but far enough away not to be in each other’s shooting lanes. I looked at Tyler and he was watching over his left shoulder. I looked at my watch for some reason. It was 9:30am. I heard a SNAP! Right then and looked to my left. There was a HUGE doe standing there broad side at about 10 yards. I thought to myself, should I take the shot and show Tyler or wait? I noticed another deer out of the corner of my right eye but thought nothing about it. So I decided to take the shot since it was close and I just knew that that doe would be some good meat on the table. So I drew back and let the arrow fly. The doe jumped and took off. I thought to myself. Man, I missed a 10-yard shot! About the same time I heard THWACK! Tyler had just took a shot, I seen a HUGE buck run right in front of me about 40 yards out. I seen it head into the edge of a thicket about 50 yards away.
So I waited about 15 minutes and got down from my stand. Walked over to where my arrow was to pick it up and noticed that it was covered with blood and in a pool of blood on the ground. I picked it up, put it in my quiver and headed over to Tyler to see how he’s doing. I looked up at him, with a very long face and I said, “What’s wrong Buddy?” He said “I missed that great big buck” I told him that I had hit that doe over by my stand and again, not to worry, there was still a lot of days left in this hunting season and a lot more hunting seasons to come. He was getting excited then so he came down to help me find her. I asked him where he thought his arrow might be and he pointed and said right over there. We walked up to the arrow and Tyler looked at it and almost started crying!! He yelled, “ I HIT HIM, I HIT HIM” noticing the blood on his arrow. ”Frank can you tell if it was a good shot?” I looked at his arrow and saw that the blood was filled with air bubbles and told Tyler that he had taken a lung shot. Oh man was he ever excited now.
I told him that now the big part was about to happen. We have 2 blood trails within 30 yards of each other. I asked him which way his deer went and he pointed. So we started following the very noticeable blood trail that his deer had left. We walked about 60 yards from his stand and came across a doe lying down. I asked Tyler if he was sure it was a buck, He said yes. So we walked up to the doe, she was definitely gone. I told Tyler that it looked like there was still a blood trail going away from her. I knew she had run in this area after I shot at her. So we walked the blood trail for about another 20 yards to the edge of a thicket. I looked right inside the edge and saw a white tail. I pointed, Tyler ran into the thicket and starting yelling “FRANK IT’S A BUCK, I TOLD YOU! WAIT TILL DAD SEES THIS!”
Then Tyler came out of the thicket, looked up to the sky and said “Thanks Gramps” Next he came over to me and gave me a huge hug and said “Thanks Buddy, this is the best day of my life!” I told him that it really made me happy to be able to hunt with him and teach him hunting. Then I said, lets get that monster out of those stickers. So we pulled him out and I was amazed. Tyler had taken his first shot at a real deer and hit. Hit in fact a 12-point Non-Typical Whitetail that weighed when dressed out at 200 POUNDS! This young man was the happiest young man I think I had ever seen at this point. When we arrived back at his house after a long wait at the check in station. Tyler walked in the house with a long face. His Dad looked at me and asked if we had seen anything. I looked at him and winked. Tyler said Yes, Frank got a doe. Come out side and see it Dad, Tyler said. So we went outside to the truck and I opened the tailgate, Tyler looked at his Dad and said “ Dad, I wish you could have been there but I understand why you can’t. Gramps was there though Dad, See” and he uncovered this Big Buck.
Roy grabbed his son and hugged him for at least 15 minutes. Then he hugged me for about as long. They both thanked me and thanked me. Tyler’s Dad went with us to take the deer to the Locker plant. After we left. His Dad asked if we could go to the woods to see where Tyler had shot his deer. Tyler asked him if he was sure. He said, “Yes, My Father is there to watch over me.”
I have to say that this was the most memorable hunting season I have had so far. I have 3 children of my own. Nicholas 9, Katie 11, and Chelsea 12, ALSO 2 Step Sons Brian 12 and Andrew 8, all of the kids and my wife Debra have taken Hunters Education and passed with a 95% or better. I’m sure in the future I will have many, many hunting memories with my family as well. Until this year, Brian has been the only one able to hunt with me since he had taken Hunter’s Education 2 years ago, this year, ALL OF THEM ARE READY!
I had kept in contact with Tyler until about 5 years ago. I talked to his Dad, Roy about a year ago. He said that Tyler has a son named “Jack Walter” after his “Gramps”. I recently talked to Tyler my self; we shared a lot of memories together. He told me that still to this day, he has bowhunted every season since that first year and can’t wait to take his son and tell him the story about that first season. Another thing he told me is, he still to this day has NEVER shot any kind of firearm!
Tyler also is a Bowhunters Education Instructor for the State of Wisconsin now. He is very involved in a youth camp up there also.