Maddie's First Hunt

“Everyone has a transferable commodity-knowledge. Sharing your unique expertise and making introductions for someone creates a lasting legacy.”
Marsha Blackburn
In the state of Oregon they have a special program called the Mentored Youth Hunter Program for kids ages 9 to 13 that allows them to hunt without first passing an approved hunter education program while being supervised by a licensed adult, filling the supervisors tag. The program also allows the mentored youth to receive a preference point for each year they are registered into the program. 
The times that I spent while hunting with my dad as a kid are some of my fondest memories. Lessons learned while out in the field with your friends and family help shape the rest of a child’s life. This is why being part of 11 year old Madison Kussman’s first ever hunt with her dad James Kussman was so special to me. 
Mother Nature had covered the steep heavy timbered terrain of the Oregon Coast Range with a thick blanket of fog. The limited visibility of the valley below created a challenging set of circumstances for Maddie on her first hunt. As we slowly crept through the fog, James whispered to Maddie about how to hunt with the wind in your face to prevent the deer from smelling you. Explaining how oftentimes in the morning when the mountain air is cool and heavy the wind will blow down the mountain and as the wind warms and becomes lighter it starts to change and begin to blow up the mountain. 
By the time the morning fog had burned off the clear cut, the Blacktail doe had already bedded down and were out of sight. Maddie and I were admiring James’s glitter and heart accented binoculars while we spent the day basking in the warm rays of sunshine glassing the clear cut below hoping to spot a doe bedded down. 
 
That evening as we slowly made our way down the clear cut a small group of does spotted us and began to blow in alert. Quickly they took off across the cut before Maddie had an opportunity to set up for a shot. We followed the group across the cut towards the timbers edge hoping for another opportunity over the next rise.
The terrain was tough going. There was heavy reprod growth that was limiting visibility, blackberry vines covered the ground like a thick thorny blanket wrapping around our legs making travel slow and sometimes painful. 
Instead of finding the deer, we spotted a hungry black bear feeding on tender ripe berries. James and I both had bear tags but the bruin was out of range and before we could get within shooting range the bruin disappeared into the thick heavy cover, never to be seen again. 
The next morning started out as the first had with heavy fog covering the clear cut. James and Madison waited for the fog to lift while making designs in the dirt out of rocks, enjoying their time spent together on the mountain. 
Taking a break for lunch, Maddie surprised her dad with a card for his birthday. The surprised look on his face as he read how much his children love and appreciate all that he does for them was a priceless. We had even had Maddie’s four year old brother, who wasn’t with us on the hunt sign the card before our trip. 
We spent our last evening glassing the cut for Black tail doe without luck. Maddie didn’t get her doe; instead she went home with precious memories of time spent in the field with her father. Maddie learning that the best things in life don’t always come easy, they require hard work and persistence. Maddie will be back in the high country next year with the hopes of punching her first tag.