Frankie's Deer

By Frank Till

My son, Frankie, and I are best buddies, and we spend a lot of time doing the things we enjoy. One of our favorite activities is preparing for deer season. We build deer stands, make clearings and paths and scout for the season. Planting and maintaining food plots has proven to be an important part of that. Frankie is nine, and this is his third hunting season.
He has taken a deer each year, his first being a button buck at 70 yards when he was only seven. He is quite a shot for a little guy. The button buck was eating in a small plot of Imperial No-Plow I had planted at the edge of the timber behind our house. Last year, he shot a nice doe grazing in a lush Imperial Whitetail Clover field. This year, Frankie got his first antlered deer. The night before Missouri’s youth firearms season, we were talking about the next morning’s hunt. Frankie said, “This year, I hope I get a buck, but I hope I don’t get buck fever, though.”

Last year, when a nice buck presented himself, Frankie started shaking like a leaf. The deer never gave him a good shot, and he passed on the buck (showing more restraint than a lot of men I know). I thought Frankie was going to shake the tree stand out of the tree. It was really neat to see him get so excited.

The first morning of the youth season was uneventful. It was really cold, and the wind was blowing hard. Frankie gave up early, and honestly, that was fine with me. We did not get to go hunting again until the next afternoon. The weather had cleared up, and it was a beautiful evening. I told Frankie I thought the deer would move, and I was right. We had not been in the stand 15 minutes when we saw our first deer. Two does came running through the edge of the timber just north of the food plot we were hunting. I told Frankie that a buck couldn’t be far behind. A few seconds later, a decent buck ran down the same path. However, he was running so hard that I couldn’t count his points. Before the evening ended, we saw two more bucks hot on the trail of does. As the evening progressed, does began to congregate at the food plot. They were big, healthy deer. Frankie’s patience was getting short. He told me, “I think I am just going to shoot a doe.” I told him we only had about 20 minutes of shooting time left, and that if he could just hold on for a few more minutes, we might see a buck. Just a few minutes later, he told me he saw something run across the pond but didn’t know where it went. I started looking at the pond area but saw nothing.

Then I looked at the does that were beneath us, and to my surprise, there was a little 8-pointer next to them. I directed Frankie’s attention to the buck. He asked if he could shoot it, and I handed him the rifle. He began to sight in on the deer, waiting for it to give him the right shot. At about 40 feet, the buck turned and gave Frankie a perfect quartering-away shot.

Frankie fired, and the deer ran about 35 feet before dropping like a rock. Although the buck was a small 8-pointer, it might as well have been a world-class monster. Frankie turned to me with a smile as big as his face. He gave me a huge hug and said, “I got him Daddy, I got him!” We loaded up the deer and took it to show Frankie’s mom and sister. It was an awesome conclusion to some quality father-and-son-time. This hunt occurred at the same Imperial Whitetail Clover field from which Frankie shot the doe the previous year. When Frankie shot his buck, there were eight does in the food plot. I have conducted deer management on my property since 2000. I am blessed to live on 208 acres in northwestern Missouri, most of which consists of heavy timber and multiflora rose. If you’re unfamiliar with multiflora rose, it’s a thorn-covered bush with no flowers. It’s everywhere and makes the timber nearly impassable (for humans). Most of my timber consists of hedge and thorny locust trees. We have about 90 acres of row crops we rotate between corn and beans. Although we have 90 acres of row crops, that’s not enough to provide deer with all the nutrients they need to get as large as they can. That requires the added protein and nutrients provided by specially designed Whitetail Institute Products.

I have tried many food plots through the years. I spend a lot of time observing my plots and have placed game cameras to see which plots deer visit most. I’ve found that the best plots are those planted with Whitetail Institute products. Because deer always seem to key on Whitetail Institute plots, I switched all my food plots to Imperial Whitetail Clover and Imperial Alfa-Rack. Food plots don’t do any good if deer won’t eat them. However, I know food plots alone do not guarantee a quality deer herd. We use an aggressive doe harvest and shoot only bucks that meet my minimum standards. The exception, of course, is for my son. I believe a young hunter should be allowed to shoot any deer for which they have a tag. That keeps them from becoming bored or discouraged with hunting. Most young children lack the patience to sit in a tree for hours in complete silence. Therefore, I let Frankie bring snacks and a silent video game with him. People ask me, “Does all this deer management really work?” I think the proof hangs on my wall. There aren’t any world-class deer there, but I can clearly see the difference in the body and antler size of deer since I began planting Whitetail Institute products. I’ve included a picture of Frankie and his buck. Good nutrition makes a difference! Thanks for making a difference.