Dusty McGehee: Ridge’s first buck


How could I have missed out on telling the story of Ridge and his first buck this past season?  I wrote one on his first deer, a doe, and it is my #1 read/viewed story thus far.  Ridge drives the ratings, so let’s give the people what they want!

Ridge killed his first deer on October 8th during the youth season.  After all the celebrations and fanfare associated with it, he lost a little steam as far as hunting was concerned.  He seemed content that he went out and accomplished the goal he had set for himself the year before.  I decided I was going to alternate hunts between him and Anders for the season, but each time I asked he would just say “meh, I don’t want to go today.”  That was fine, as I am certainly not going to force my child to go, and it worked out well in Anders favor.  However, that all changed a month later.

Anders and I headed out to “The 100” to hunt one evening at the end of October.  This was the stand I’ve shared the majority of my hunts with my kids in over the years.  My dad built this stand when he found out Rachel was pregnant with Anders.  It’s 6 ft x 6 ft heated, with a 3-foot porch.  My dad wanted a stand where he and the grandkids could all sit in comfort and make memories.  And many memories we have made in that stand over the last few years.  The walls are filled with crayon drawings, dates of kills, and books, and the floor is littered with empty snack wrappers.

We get settled into the stand and we are targeting a nice 8-point that was showing up on camera.  We see plenty of does and small spikes, but our buck never shows.  About 10 minutes before dark, I see a dark body coming out of the pine thicket and tell Anders to get ready.  I can tell it’s a nice buck, so I put the binoculars on him and immediately see it’s not the 8-point.  It was a big-bodied 2.5-year-old 5-point, which I would have happily let him shoot but we were dead set on getting the bigger buck.  I told Anders that this would be the perfect buck for Ridge and he agreed; we watched him chase does until the sunset.

We get back home and tell Ridge about this buck (now his buck) and I saw a little spark in his eye.  Now it’s game on, and I’m fired up.  I monitor the buck on camera and see he is hit or miss showing up at this stand.  He would come out maybe twice a week and there was no rhyme or reason.  Finally, on the evening of November 9th I was able to get off work just a little early, just in time to make a late evening hunt.

The weather was pretty warm but the does were showing up and the rut was getting close.  Ridge was fired up to go after his buck and so was I.  We sneak to the stand and there were deer already out.  We tried to get into the stand without being noticed, but the deer saw us and busted out.  Oh well, I knew they would be back.

30 minutes passed, and they begin filing out.  We had over a dozen does feeding about 75 yards away.  Next comes 2 spikes and I try to convince Ridge to shoot one, but he was hesitant.  After 10 minutes of persuasion, he finally decided a spike would be big enough for his first buck.  I get him lined up on the biggest spike, a trophy 5-incher, but there are too many deer around and he can’t get a clear shot.  He stayed on the gun for what seemed like an eternity, and he finally got an opening.

As I’m telling him to go ahead and shoot, I see an all too familiar image coming out of the pines.  I say “no, no, no here comes your buck!”  The buck comes out and the spikes and does scatter.  Ridge was already ready, so as soon as he stopped, I cocked the hammer back and told him to put it right behind the shoulder and take the shot.  He gets off the gun and says “dad is that where you want it?”  I look through the scope and it is perfect.  I said “YES right there.  Bust him!”

The 350 Legend cracks and his buck folded without a flinch.  Left eye dead eye had done it again!  His first buck was down for the count!  We embrace on the stand, yell a little bit, and I tell him how proud I am of him.  But enough of that, let’s go get your buck!

Ridge and his favorite stuffed animal “Wolfie” ran down the steps and went to recover his deer.  Just as expected, a beautiful 5-point that weighed in at 165 pounds.  His antlers may not have been huge, but it was a Boone and Crockett buck for him (and me) that day.

As stated earlier, my dad (Pop) built that stand for his grandchildren and I think this was exactly what he had in mind while he was putting it together.  You only get to experience a child’s first buck once, and this was the perfect spot for it.


Dusty McGehee is a native of Downsville and a 2006 graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a bachelor’s in wildlife conservation. He is currently employed by WestRock and serves as an environmental engineer at the Hodge Mill. Dusty is an avid hunter and crappie fisherman, fishing crappie tournaments with his son when he is not in the woods. He and his wife Rachel have three young outdoorsmen/women: Anders (10), Ridge (8), and Mae (5). If you have a story idea or question about the great outdoors, you can reach Dusty at dusty.mcgehee@westrock.com.


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