For Weisheits, deer hunting is a family affairNovember 13, 2019
By LARRY LAGRANGE
Special to The Herald
Probably because neither my dad nor very few of my relatives deer hunted, I’ve just never gotten into it. The videos I see on outdoor shows are exciting; it’s easy to see how someone could get wrapped up in this challenging sport. My 9-year-old grandson Walker is a budding deer hunter. His dad has a blind set up behind their house in Owen County, and he’s just itching for the chance to take a crack at a buck or doe. He just got his first shotgun, a Mossberg 20 gauge. He’s excited.
For a column on deer, I thought it would be nice to get a youth hunter’s angle, so I asked Jeff Miley at Jeff’s Bait Shop, who suggested I try the Preston and Alyssa Weisheit family. I did, and Preston responded with a well written piece about his family’s experiences, and Alyssa sent me some good pictures, which I hope The Herald has room to run. In a later column, the kids get a chance to tell their stories.
“As I lean back in my chair at work in between phone calls and emails, I am reminded that life is a little slower outside of these busy walls. On the shelves scattered throughout my office, there are lots of pictures, every one of them an awesome memory spent with my family. Each one is a different setting, with different circumstances, but the one thing that is consistent in each is a smile that lasts for days. You see, my pictures are of deer hunts with my children and my wife. Each of them is a reminder of time well spent making memories. Deer hunting is so much more that going on the hunt; it’s about spending time with kids and family.
“Growing up in a household that did not hunt, I sometimes wonder how I ended up liking the outdoors so much. I had family that did some hunting, but not more than a day or two a year. We had friends that hunted, but I didn’t go with them very often. It wasn’t until I met my future father-in-law that I truly understood why people could get so wrapped up with deer hunting. Deer season was the time of year that he saved all his vacation days for and would get away. I remember watching him go day after day looking for the big one, sitting for hours in the woods and coming out only at mid-day to grab some lunch. However, I can’t count the number of times he watched deer go by all day and never moved his trigger finger. It took me a couple of years to catch on that this was family time for him and that nature and peacefulness were just bonuses. While it wasn’t overly noticeable, everyone was involved, even those who didn’t hunt. He took his son along every chance he could get, coaching him with what he had learned over a lifetime of hunting, always making sure to stop and get some grub and coffee with him early in the morning. He put his daughter and me in great hunting spots so that we could have the best chance possible and never worried about where he got to hunt himself. We had group feeds at night that brought everyone in the family together as we listened to deer stories told from both young and old hunters. Sometimes there would be 20 people there until the last story was told. I truly appreciate what I learned from him.
“As a family of seven, my wife Alyssa and I are devoted to doing things together as a family. We find the outdoors to be one of the best ways to spend this time. We don’t watch much TV and there is no device for video gaming in our house. We currently maintain 11 tree stands and hunting blinds that dot our family properties in Dubois County. Each one has been a group effort to build and put up in preparation for the upcoming deer season. The kids each have their favorite stand and project what animals will be where at any given time. We maintain five food plots totaling six acres that all the kids have tilled up and helped to plant. They help fertilize and mow these monthly during the summer. I joke that I am just a supervisor anymore. There is nothing better than walking out before sunset and seeing the deer visit our food plots.
“One of our favorite pastimes is checking the deer cameras. We usually bring in more than 2,000 pictures weekly that have every animal imaginable on them. Most of the deer can be identified easily by the end of the year as they are frequent visitors to the salt licks by the cameras. It is generally a race between the kids to see who gets to pull the camera card and view the pictures first.
“One of the biggest contributors to getting our kids actively involved in hunting has been the youth deer season. This two-day weekend gives access to all Indiana youth to hunt a week before anyone else gets the opportunity. The deer are still on their normal patterns and this allows young hunters to make minor errors and still have the potential for a memorable harvest. If you have ever experienced the adrenaline-filled moments after a successful youth hunt, it is one of the most awesome things you can be part of. I hope that at some point all my kids take advantage of the outdoors. It lets them see that the hustle and bustle that they are used to in school and sports can be slowed down if they let it, and they learn that nature is full of adventures.”
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