Bow hunting with the boys

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Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

Now they're even. Last year, Nicholas shot his first deer with a gun before Jackson. Both boys got deer during gun season, but Nicholas was first. Well, last weekend, Jackson shot his first buck with a bow before Nicholas. Don't get me wrong. We don't promote competition between the boys, but there's always a little razzing and one-upmanship that goes on between brothers, especially 13-year-old twins.

It happened last weekend after I returned from another business trip. Tracker opened a new dealership in Tallahassee, so I went there to help promote it. When I got back, there were a lot of outdoor chores to get done since we've had such unseasonably warm weather here in southern Michigan. Our bow season opened Oct. 1, but we didn't have a chance to get in the woods until last weekend.

The boys are 7th graders and have a lot of homework and school activities during the week, so that, coupled with my promotional travels, has kept us from spending more time in the woods. But last weekend it was too nice to pass up the opportunity. I knew that the deer would be moving the last hour of daylight since it had been so hot during the day. I took Jackson to a stand while my brother-in-law, Russ Campbell, took Nicholas to another on the same property. Only the boys carried bows. They were pumped and ready to shoot anything if given a good opportunity. They'd been practicing with their bows and were eager to put their skills to work in a real hunting scenario.

As the sun began to fall, a spike walked out of a food plot and began working a scrape about 20 yards away. Unfortunately, the deer turned and walked away, but I stopped him with a few grunts on my call. Jackson shot and missed. He was extremely disappointed, but I told him to be patient. He'd get another chance. It wasn't long before a 6-point walked within 20 yards and did the same thing — stopped and turned away. I blew the grunt call when he was about 30 yards out, and the deer turned enough that Jackson could let the arrow fly. This time, the deer dropped in his tracks.

He whooped it up over the fact he got a buck — and that he did it before Nicholas. I was thrilled I was with him for his first bow kill. Nicholas will get one before the season ends, but I'm glad Jackson could even the score. Me? I haven't carried my bow into the woods, but you can bet I will as soon as I return from two weeks of smallmouth fishing in northern Michigan.

A photographer flew here yesterday to do some filming. I picked him up at the airport with the boat hooked to the back of my Toyota Tundra, and we headed north. I'll fill you in about our success next week. Remember, it's all about the attitude. 

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