As she was adjusting the height of the sticks and the magnification of the scope, she whispered "I see a deer".
It was still too dark to shoot but with the use of the scope, you could clearly make out the silhouette of a deer.
Several minutes passed and finally we could see the antlers. When we finally had shooting light, the decision was made to take the shot.
It was 92 yards from Isabelle to the deer, just at the edge of her comfort zone, but she said she could make the shot.
She took a deep breath, squeezed the trigger and held steady on the front shoulder, just like we've practiced. The Encore bellowed smoke and we both strained to see where the deer went.
I got a glimpse of it disappearing behind a cedar tree and then heard a crash as the buck fell not 30 yards from where it had stood.
As we approached the deer we were even more surprised to see the extra points we hadn't noticed. Isabelle dropped to her knees and counted, "1, 2.....12, 13!"
It was a 13-point buck for a 13-year-old hunter.
Isabelle then looked at me with her big, brown eyes and said “Thanks, dad.” My heart melted.
She also showed a reverence for the animal that some hunters have forgotten. She knew she took its life but also knew that our family would make good use of the meat and celebrate the harvest every time we sat at the dinner table.
I guide so many people each year and occasionally have to witness a hunter take an animal but not truly appreciate what he's done.
So, watching a kid, even if she was my own daughter, show reverence for the animal and the sport gives me hope, really more like faith, that our great sporting tradition will live on.