ARTICLE: YOUTH SEASON FOR THE RECORD BOOK by David L. Falconer
Hunting season is upon us and youth season this weekend has resulted in a lot of new hunters venturing afield, taking deer for the first time in their lives. Walker Lovell has taken deer before. He has taken wild hogs before, but nothing except for his dad’s advice prepared him for what happened this Oklahoma Youth season here in Haskell County.
Walker is the 7 year old son of Weston and Kristen Lovell. Weston’s hunting values is the values of a hunter who loves and respects the animal he chases and the manner in which they are taken. He is a steward of wildlife, not just someone who is there for the kill. He is teaching his sons those values, just as he was taught by his dad.
October 16th started at 5:50 AM as Weston and Walker got up and dressed from carefully laid out clothing, Weston decided to hunt from his dad’s blind on San Bois Creek. Walker was excited and his demeanor reminded Weston of those sleepless nights he had before season started when he was Walker’s age.
The temperature had cooled off for the night and as cool as it was at home, San Bois bottom is always 10 degrees colder than that. Think of the coldest place in Alaska at the same time of year and that is how it feels in San Bois bottom!! Parking high above the blind, father and son walked in to the blind and got seated.
In a conversation with his little brother, Gunner, the day before, Walker and Gunner had been playing the child game of, “This is my deer” while looking at game camera pictures. Walker made his dad chuckle when he made the very honest comment that he would most likely shoot the first deer that came in with horns regardless of what they were seeing!
Walker had been part of preparing the blind and the area they were hunting. The morning was just starting to come alive as they settled into the blind. Walker was fully prepared to take a hog or a deer, whichever showed up first.
A fork horn buck showed up and Walker wanted to shoot it, but Weston talked him out of it. Walker had been true to his word and wanted to take the first deer to arrive, but Weston told him to hold out for a bigger buck. Shortly 6 does came in and there was two smaller bucks dogging them in the distance but didn’t come in close enough for Walker to shoot. Walker was focused on the biggest doe of the group and when she presented a good shot, his rifle roared and that big doe hit the ground.
Excited, Walker and Weston walked to the big mature doe and Weston stood out of kicking distance and pushed on the doe with a long walking stick.
She was dead!
Walker helped his dad get the deer loaded, wanting to take it by his pawpaw’s house to show it to him! Gerald Lovell is one of my mentor’s and I consider him an Uncle even though there is no DNA that connects us, but he and his are family. The picture he took with his deer and Pawpaw says it all!
This could end here. A conservation kill of a mature doe by a young hunter, but it doesn’t end there. It starts again that evening, Weston suggesting they hunt Walker’s blind behind the house and try to take a nice young eight point they had been seeing on the game camera. Walker was all for it!
That evening father and son made their way to the blind behind the house, hoping to ambush a nice young eight point that had been a regular on the game camera. Parking the 4 wheeler among the cows, they were in the blind by 5 PM. Walker was set up and Weston was helping him watch outside.
Nothing showed up, but the cool evening air was relaxing when they saw the big buck moving through around 6:20 PM. It was over 125 yards away and never presented a shot that was reasonable for a 7 year old. Walker has killed deer and hogs before, putting every shot behind the shoulder out to 80 yards, but Weston felt his range needed to be limited to less than 125 yards and held to it as they let the buck walk out of sight.
Walker was disappointed, but less than 15 minutes later a young 5 point came out and gave him a broadside shot within his range. Weston assumed Walker would shoot it, but his son turned toward him and asked, “Do you think the big one will come back?”
“Maybe,” Weston told his son and watched as his young protégé watched the little buck graze.
After watching it for 10 or so minutes he decided to shoot it and for the first time in his life, missed a deer! Somehow, he bumped the tripod rest just as he squeezed the trigger and completely missed that deer. He missed it so far the deer just ran a short distance and started grazing again and Walker made a nice scope ring cut above his eye! Bleeding or not, Weston got him out of the blind to go check for blood. Weston and Walker didn’t see it grazing until they got close to where it had been standing and the little buck trotted off! He was unhurt!
Double checking to make sure there was no blood, Weston told Walker they had about 15 minutes of legal shooting light left. Walker headed for the blind. Weston got in with him and started texting his wife to tell her about the hunting trip results. They had not been there for 5 minutes.
Walker said he seen a deer coming fast and it was the big one! Unable to see the deer, Weston knew it was in a bad spot for him to be able to say anything and then Walker shot!
The buck dropped in his tracks!
Walker went super happy, almost tearing the blind down getting out of it to race to the buck. Weston said he walked up to the largest whitetail buck he had ever seen on the hoof. The buck green scored 183 7/8ths and easily topped the whitetails Weston himself had taken. Needless to say this young man is a hunter who understands patience pays off. It also means he will be a hunter for life!!