Siblings Dayton and Alayna Haenel come from a hunting family. Their dad has taught both of them to hunt. For 10-year-old Alayna, this was her first year, and for 14-year-old Dayton, his first year hunting with a bow. Both celebrated their "firsts" by bagging a deer.
The Haenels live in Rhinelander where Alayna attends Crescent Elementary School and Dayton attends James Williams Middle School. The Haenels hunt with their dad on various public lands around the area and also on their uncle's land.
Dayton had tried to get his dad to let him bow hunt in previous years, but to no avail.
"He bugged me about it in years past," Jarrod, their dad, said. "I told him I wasn't comfortable with him out there until he could pull back 45 pounds. So he worked all summer and got up to 48 or 49 pounds. So this year he got to bow hunt for the first time. This was his first night out in the stand, and an hour and a half later he was done."
"We went out on Saturday, me and my dad," Dayton said. "We saw this huge buck just off the road and I told my dad that was the area I wanted to hunt in."
After about an hour, Dayton heard footsteps. His dad told him it was a buck. Dayton could barely see the buck standing behind some bushes. As the buck started to walk out from behind the bushes, Dayton's dad told him to get ready. He stood up and pulled back his bow. Approximately 20 yards away, the buck gave him a perfect broadside shot. He released the arrow, hitting the buck just behind the shoulder. The buck ran about 80 yards to the top of a hill and disappeared out of sight. Dayton and his dad waited a while before getting down to track the deer. After searching briefly, they discovered Dayton's first bow-harvested deer lying on the ground.
"It's great to have the opportunity to get a shot at something," Dayton said. "And the only thing I don't like about hunting is when it's really cold." He said he enjoyed bow hunting the most because the weather was a bit better. While Dayton enjoyed comparatively warmer weather while bow hunting, his sister Alayna, was getting ready for her first gun hunt as a mentored youth.
"I was actually really excited to start hunting," Alayna said of her first experience in the woods this year. On Saturday of the gun-deer season, Alayna and her dad went to some public land where the family normally hunted. After two hours, they went back home for lunch and went back out later. Alayna said they only saw one spike buck that afternoon. The buck came in behind where Alayna and her dad were sitting, and she could not get a shot at him.
The pair went back out on Sunday, this time to Alayna's uncle's land. They sat for quite awhile.
"About 20 minutes before shooting hours were over, my deer came in right in front of us at a perfect angle," she said. "It took me a while to get it in the scope, but when I finally pulled the trigger it was so relieving." The deer ran only about 25 yards, but there was no blood trail. When Alayna and her dad finally found the deer, they realized her precise shot had taken out one lung. Alayna's first hunt was over, and it was a success.
"If you wanted to try it, and if you do see one, don't get all excited because then it senses you," Alayna said as advice to other would-be youth hunters. "I learned that kind of the hard way. It senses your motion and then it runs off. Then you get all bummed."
"I highly recommend that they (other youth hunters) should go hunting and probably start off with smaller animals, just to get set in to aim how to do things," Dayton added. "I would tell them that it's extremely fun when you finally get to pull the trigger on a bigger animal like a deer or a bear."
Dayton also shot a deer during gun season, as did Jarrod. The family eats mostly venison rather than hamburger, so these deer will get the family through until hunting season starts again next year.
Alayna might want to hunt bear at some point and maybe do some duck hunting, too. She also enjoy softball in the summer and sledding in the winter. Dayton also hunts grouse, ducks and small game. He likes to fish, play baseball and play in band.
Beckie Gaskill may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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