Conor Kuehl made a dangerous play. He shot his father’s target. The 12-year-old, who has been busy at quarterback this fall, is used to making quick decisions under pressure. So when the male that the family called “Oscar”, because of all the trash on his left side, kicked Conor, he took it and made it count.
Greg Kuehl, Conor’s father, recently purchased a 102-acre farm near Valparaiso, Indiana that has been in his family for five generations. He is proud that his boys, Conor and Keegan, will be the sixth generation owners of the property. Greg is relatively new to deer hunting and is having the best time of his life hunting with his boys on their special terrain.
As the learning curve of being a hunter as an adult is steep, Greg does everything he can to share the experience with his sons and extended family. Keegan also took a dollar off the property.
On the Saturday night of the Indiana Young Deer season, September 24–25, Conor played a football game. Greg is the coach. After the game, Greg asked Conor if he wanted to hunt, even though they didn’t have time to put on their hunting clothes. Conor said yes, and they had just enough time to squeeze into a blind the boys had helped build from an old gravity cart before the sun started to set. Still dressed in his football uniform, Conor set up with his 30-30 scoped rifle to watch an active food conspiracy. He didn’t have to wait long.
A few does entered the food patch first, followed by two young bucks. Shortly after, Oscar appeared. Being the dominant male, he wasn’t going to give immature males a chance. Conor said the mature male entered the field and ran away from the smaller males. He wiped out the contest, then started leaving with the hinds. That’s when Conor connected with a perfect shot.
They knew it was a good dollar, but they didn’t know it was Oscar. Greg said it was his cousin who first proclaimed, “Conor shot your deer.” When they approached the downed male, the distinctive trashy left antler was hidden in the food patch. There were a few jokes about shooting dad’s deer, but of course Greg was happy for his son.
There is a very good lesson here on the “ownership” of deer. Fortunately, no one owns the deer that roams wild in North America. Our special wildlife conservation model has seven principles, the first states: “Wildlife resources are conserved and held in trust for all citizens. This means that just because a deer is on your property doesn’t mean they are your deer. There are quite a few hunters out there who need to let that sink in.
Young deer seasons will take place across the Midwest this fall. Many have not yet taken place. These are special opportunities to introduce kids to hunting and hopefully hook them for life. Like Greg, you can lose your target money to a young hunter. I also hope, like Greg, that you are more than willing and genuinely happy to do so.
See you on the trail.
Brandon Butler writes an outdoor column for The Republic. Send feedback to [email protected] For more Driftwood Outdoors, check out the podcast at www.driftwoodoutdoors.com or wherever podcasts play.