Editor's note: Jerick Henley of Edmond is a hunting guide who oversees the hunting operation on the Chain Ranch near Canton. But occasionally, he gets time off from work to go hunting with his three daughters.
Life moves at a pretty fast pace.
Between family, work, church, and the myriad other distractions that present themselves everyday, it's hard to find time to squeeze in one more activity.
But when my 13-year-old daughter asks me if we can go deer hunting together, my world comes to a screeching halt.
A dear friend had asked me to hunt with him and his son on opening day of muzzleloader season. When I called him to ask if I could bring my daughter, he knew, being a dad himself, how important it was.
Isabelle and I arrived in Waynoka late Friday evening, having been lucky enough to get the last room at the only motel in town. The ride had been filled with 2 1/2 hours of nonstop talking, more than would normally fill a week's worth around the dinner table at home.
We both were too excited to sleep much that night and when the alarm went off at 5:30 a.m., we jumped out of bed, dressed in our camo and hunter orange and headed to the truck.
We made a quick stop at the gas station for coffee and juice, then on to the ranch. My friend and his son decided to go to the far end of the ranch, leaving Isabelle and I to hunt the "south stand."
It is not actually a stand, but simply a round cedar tree on a little sand hill overlooking a draw that runs from one area of timber to another, with a feeder on the south end.
We parked ourselves behind the cedar tree just after 7 a.m. It was cold that morning, but neither of us felt the chill because we were so excited just to be out in God's creation.
Isabelle took the outside position, so she could have the clearest view of the draw. I tucked in tight to the cedar tree.
After getting herself settled, she placed a set of shooting sticks in front of her and laid the barrel of the TC Encore in the "v" at the top of the sticks. She wanted to make sure everything was in place before shooting light arrived.
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.