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Katelynn scores a bullseye
Photo by Lee Fahrney Katelynn Gordon of Mineral Point shot her first deer during the recent Youth Hunt. Posing with Katelynn are Jeff and Hannah Mayne, also of Mineral Point. Monroe Times outdoors writer Lee Fahrney served as a guide at Five Oaks in Iowa County.

Scientist to speak at Conservation League banquet

Dr. Tony Grabski, a scientist knowledgeable in the dynamics of misshapen proteins and a delegate to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, will speak tonight at the Green County Conservation League banquet at the Argyle Rod & Gun Club.

Dr. Grabski recently traveled to Saskatchewan on behalf of Safari Club International to learn more about the CWD research discussed in last week's Monroe Times outdoors column. He was instrumental in bringing the University of Saskatchewan research team to Wisconsin recently to conduct a forum and hold a press conference.

The event begins at 6 p.m. with dinner (free will offering to eat), followed by the program at 7, with various raffles and a silent auction offered throughout the evening. New members are welcome. Contact Nate Bloom at 325-7555 for more info.

The hot weather was less than ideal for the 2010 fall Youth Hunt Oct. 9-10. But for one young hunter looking to harvest her first deer the experience could not have been more exciting.

Katelynn Gordon of Mineral Point sat next to me in a double tree stand at Five Oaks, both of us unsure of what to expect, but with high expectations for a successful hunt. Hunting companions Jeff Mayne and his daughter, Hannah, have taken up a position on the other side of the hill along the Pecatonica River.

Katelynn and I are sitting high up in what is probably the oldest and largest white pine on the property, situated in a small grove of mixed pines, walnuts and oaks where an old farmstead once existed. I've always speculated that the pine could have been rooted there by early Norwegian settlers and is perhaps the seed tree of all the other pines on the property.

Our appearance and tool box equipment show a sharp generational distinction. I'm tricked out with all the right duds for a hunting expedition and a "combat" satchel full of hunting stuff including knife, plastic tie for attaching a registration tag and a couple of bleat calls.

Katelynn is stylin' with mixed ornamentation of blaze orange, blue jeans, multicolored sneakers and a texting device tucked in a pocket, along with a pack of gum and who knows what other necessities of life a 14-year old requires.

I whisper some thoughts on where the deer might emerge - from the neighboring property across the town road behind us, down over the knoll as we look straight out toward the west or from the corn patch to her right.

We review standard operating procedures if a deer appears - gauge the direction of travel, rest the barrel of the 7mm Remington BDL bolt action on the railing of the tree stand, find the deer in the cross hairs as soon as possible, take the safety off when ready to shoot, take a deep breath, relax, squeeze the trigger.

If only it were that simple. As the sun begins to slip beneath the horizon, a trio of whitetails appears. But they are to my left, and I'm guessing they will pass behind us. Katelynn will have a tough shot from where she's sitting, but they are close enough that a lot of movement will probably spook them.

Then we get a break. A car rushes by on the road and all three heads swing in that direction as it passes. "Change places right now!" I whisper. The shift goes smoothly as Katelynn stands up and moves forward. I slide over, and she settles smoothly into just the right position for a shot.

The next crisis arises as the deer pass through a ravine below us. Katelynn is sitting too low in the stand to bring the rifle barrel up over the railing and line up a shot. She soon figures it out, however, and slowly brings her leg up under her torso to provide more height while swinging the barrel into position.

One last challenge remains, however. She nudges the safety forward, slips her finger gently into position and squeezes. Click! And a cruel but eminently teachable moment arises. Rule No. 1: The chamber must contain a round of ammunition of the correct size for the firearm!

I reach over and take control, correct the problem and hand it back. To our amazement the deer is still standing broadside looking directly at us. Katelynn slips the gun into position and calmly squeezes the trigger. The deer drops immediately, a clean heart shot kill.

Katelynn's calm demeanor lasts only long enough for her to pass the gun back to me. Then, the emotions explode in a gush of smiling, trembling and cries of "I did it; I can't believe it!"

With the return of some measure of composure, the fingers bounce furiously back and forth on the keypad, launching a flurry of messages to Jeff, Hannah and mom back home in Mineral Point - spreading the news about a successful hunt in Wisconsin's Youth Hunt Program.

And so it goes as our deer hunting traditions pass to the next generation.

- Lee Fahrney is the Monroe Times outdoors writer. He can be reached at (608) 967-2208 or at