First Hunt Memorable For Fifth-Grader


The rifles and bows are now back in their cases, stored away for the next hunting season. I hope your season was an enjoyable experience in the outdoors and hopefully shared with family and friends. With the new technology in phones I have seen a multitude of hunting photos from successful young hunters on their first big game hunts. This was the year of many large antlered whitetail being harvested, scoring in the 100-inch-plus category.

Emma Hill, an 11-year-old, fifth-grade student at Julia Randall Elementary School, had a true wilderness experience backpacking with her dad, Sky, and mother, Tara and family friend Randy Hererra. They hiked far into the wilderness. In most cases, the further one hikes from any access of a road the better the odds of seeing a trophy-sized whitetail and that is what the Hill family decided to do, even if camping was a bit primitive.

They had a spike camp, which is nothing more than sleeping bags, water, a lightweight tent, and freeze-dried food because the weight of each pack is critical, especially when hiking in rugged mountain terrain. Add the weight of a gun, optics, and a tripod, and a backpack can get heavy. Don’t forget that a deer must also fit into the pack, but that is Dad’s problem!

After having successfully taken the firearms safety course, Emma was ready for the practice range. A valuable part of the preseason is making sure that a firearm can be shot with accuracy at various distances. The Hill family had made many preseason trips to the shooting range where Emma was consistently hitting a small paper plate at a distance of 400 yards! She also practiced in the field, shooting at various distances in preparation for opening day.

It certainly paid off when a buck was spotted that got everyone excited, even though it was about a mile away in some extremely steep terrain. Emma, with Dad’s help, was able to close the gap to just one canyon and make a 385-yard shot. A Coues Whitetail deer is a very small target at that distance, but Sky was confident Emma could make the shot if she had a solid rest. A clean shot downed the animal and after another tough hike through a steep canyon Emma was able to claim her first buck.

When she is in school, Emma is a straight A student and excels in athletics, playing softball and basketball. If she gets drawn for a deer tag she will be in the field for another family hunt in the fall.

This weekend, take advantage of this spring-like weather, explore the Rim Country, God’s creation.


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