by Nick Pierson, Sangamon County Guide
My name is Nick Pierson and I am a Guide for CTO Sangamon County chapter in Illinois. This past weekend I had the privilege of going to a CTO Sportsman Outing where 4 teenage boys got the chance to harvest free range deer with archery equipment.
After we got to camp, the boys shot either their bow or a crossbow, that was provided by CTO. This showed the Guides what distance the young man was confident at shooting. Each boy got to pick out what “stand” they wanted to sit in based on what the land owners told them about each spot, and was paired up with a CTO Guide.
The 15 year old boy that I was paired up with was Matt, from LaSalle County Chapter. Matt decided that he wanted to hunt the “Buckeye Tree” stand and, of course, it was the farthest stand away from the camp. Right then I knew this kid was serious about wanting to shoot a deer! Saturday morning came early and we were eager to get to the stand, so we got dressed in our camo and headed out to the timber. Although we sat in that tree until 10 that morning, we didn’t see anything but squirrels. While we were sitting there I asked Matt if he wanted to come back here for the evening hunt or try a different spot. He said he wanted a change of scenery and to try a different spot. After getting back to camp, I told him I thought that was going to be a really good afternoon stand and he would be mad at himself if someone else shot a deer out of that stand. Matt thought about it for a second and decided to go back to the “Buckeye Tree” that afternoon. After we ate an awesome breakfast and had a “campfire” where we read Genesis 11:1-9, it was time to head back out!
So there we were sitting in the “Buckeye Tree” with the breeze blowing lightly and the sun shining brightly. After sitting there for a couple hours, and after Matt took his afternoon nap (don’t worry he had a harness on), it was getting close to what I like to call prime time. I was on high alert and just praying to the good Lord that a deer would walk by to give Matt a chance at a shot. And wouldn’t you know He answered my prayers and sent a little buck right into us! Matt was sitting to my left in his own stand. The deer came out on his left, so as soon as we saw it I grabbed my phone, began videoing, and coached him the whole way. I was so impressed by his patience in this situation. Matt had his bow hanging on a bow hook to his left, so he reached around slowly and grabbed it. The deer was getting closer but had his head down eating as he was walking. I told Matt that once it gets behind a tree, to stand up. And sure enough, that deer read the script and walked right into the mowed path with a huge opening for Matt to put a clean shot on this deer! That’s exactly what Matt did, put a Rage in the Cage!! He made a great shot and stuck an arrow through both lungs. Little did we know when the buck ran off he would lose very little blood. When we got out of the tree stand and looked at the ground where he ran, there was only a drop of blood every 3 feet or so. After about 75 yards of this, Matt and I saw his lighted nock back in the timber in the area where the deer came from. We walked to it, but still very little blood. At this point we were getting close enough to another kid hunting that I didn’t want to ruin his hunt, so we backed out and waited. We were waiting for it to get dark or until we got a text saying that Hudson, the boy we were getting close to, had shoot a deer with a crossbow. Well we got the text “Kevin we need the tractor” which was Joe’s (Sangamon County Chapter Director) way of saying Hudson shot a deer! Kevin is the land owner and he uses a tractor to bring the deer back to camp.
Meanwhile Matt still didn’t know for sure if his deer was dead or ran off never to be seen again. The minutes (which probably felt like hours to Matt) were passing by while we were congratulating Hudson on his doe that dropped in the field. It was getting dark quick. By the time we tagged Hudson’s doe and walked back to the timber where we saw last blood, it was dark. Now I am in this dark unfamiliar timber with 2 teenage boys who have never blood trailed a deer before and I began to pray again. “Dear Lord, I know it was a good shot please help us find this deer for this young man.” As we were searching for blood, something white caught my eye in the darkness. It was the belly of the deer that Matt had shot! I think we both yelled loud enough that the other guys in the field could hear us over the tractor. Matt was pumped and I couldn’t have been more excited for him. It turned out to be a 10 point buck. Though it wasn’t huge, it still had 10 points and was his first deer kill.
After we got both deer back to camp and took lots of pictures, Matt got the chance to skin and cut up his own deer that he harvested with his own bow. Not many kids these days get to do those kind of things.
The smile on Matt’s face said it all and that’s why I volunteer with CTO. Without volunteers and people that stepped up, this weekend would not have been possible for this young man. Thank you to everyone that played a part in Matt’s story on this weekend that he will never forget!