You could cut the anticipation and excitement with a knife on Friday afternoon, September 22, as guides, parents, and youth hunters gathered at the safety briefing for the 2nd Annual LandTrust for Central NC youth deer hunt. Guides pointed out blind locations on maps while youth participants looked on with eager eyes. Everyone paired with guides and made a final check of equipment and licenses before heading home to rest for the arrival of the morning hunt.
The morning of September 23rd came early as folks returned to the meeting spot before 5:00 am. Young hunters donned orange caps and camouflage while guides prepared equipment and snacks. Seventeen youth participants were escorted to blind locations that had been prepared a week in advance. As the cool night air gave way to early light, a heavy fog settled in on the river bottom. As the sunlight began to burn away the morning fog, the first shot rang out. An hour passes, then a second shot from a different location. Finally, the morning hunt came to a close as the clock struck 9:30 and guides decided to vacate the blinds. The young hunters and adult participants gathered at the barn to share stories of the morning and the success of two hunter’s first deer. Smiling faces were abundant as they talked of how close a deer had walked to the blind, or how a wild hog had startled them so badly while they were partaking in a snack break, or how a giant 8-point buck had walked by too quickly for a shot. Another guide shared the emotional story of his participant and the young hunter’s father after they recovered the young man’s first deer. Photos were taken and a demonstration of game cleaning was given to instruct those in attendance on proper care of harvested animals.
As the dinner bell rang, attendees were treated to Better Burger (Troy, NC) hamburgers and hotdogs. During lunch, a talk about the importance of conservation on a local level was given. Following lunch, the participants had opportunities to practice their archery skills on the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) archery range, or try their hand at a crossbow from another non-profit partner, Hand of a Sportsman. Other activities included bb gun and airsoft ranges as well as cornhole games. Parents and guides relaxed in the shade of the barn, recounting the morning’s adventures.
Around 4:00 pm, guides began gathering their groups for the evening hunt. Blind locations were selected and folks set out for the afternoon. Only fifteen minutes after being dropped off at the blind location, the first shot rang out. The young hunter in a ground blind had successfully harvested his first deer, a 4 pointer in full velvet. As the evening light began to dwindle, shots echoed around the property. Deer were moving and the young hunters were seeing game. Once everyone gathered back at the meeting spot, another doe and buck had been harvested by first time hunters, as well as one bonus feral hog! The young hunters were thrilled to have had such a fine outing. Most all the participants had opportunities, some shots were missed and some were just not taken, but memories of good times were made by all. Everyone enjoyed the fellowship and experience of being outside and the opportunity to assist in mentoring the next generation of conservationists.
The LandTrust for Central North Carolina is proud to be a leader among conservation organizations in providing opportunities for young conservationists to experience the outdoors through hiking, paddling, and hunting.