Young hunters prove skilled well beyond their years

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  • Owen Timbrook is a very lucky kid. Luck had nothing to do with the nice white-tailed doe the 7-year-old shot with a crossbow — that was all skill.

    But the fact a kindergartner can properly handle a crossbow, take aim from inside a ground blind, and deliver a perfectly placed arrow — that speaks to his good fortune. Owen’s luck stems from his association with his stepdad, Tom Bires, and his grandpa, Matt Timbrook, who have taken the time to teach this young man the ways of the woods.

    “Owen has been outside since he could walk, and he can shoot, fish, cast, bait his own hook — he’s just an outdoors kid,” said grandpa Timbrook. “He got introduced to it very young, and he’s learned a lot for as young as he is.”

    With a good outdoors education and a skill set that many adults would envy, Owen received an apprentice hunting license, which allowed him to hunt as long as a licensed adult hunter was with him.

    Braden Curry, 8, and his dad, Steve, pose with Braden’s first deer: A 10-pointer he shot with a muzzleloader in Licking County.
    Braden Curry, 8, and his dad, Steve, pose with Braden’s first deer: A 10-pointer he shot with a muzzleloader in Licking County.

    Owen and Bires settled into a blind on a section of private property in Williams County recently on Owen’s baptismal hunt. When a doe came into range, Owen waited about 15 minutes to get the right angle for a proper shot. Bires asked if Owen had the crosshairs on the sight lined up, and when Owen responded that he did, the safety was clicked off.

    “Then he waited another six or seven seconds until the deer turned perfectly broadside,” Bires said. “He was very calm the whole time, and he said he watched the arrow the whole way. This is a smart kid who understands hunting.”

    Owen, who attends Whitehouse Primary, had to demonstrate his skill and accuracy before Bires rewarded him with his first hunt. Owen had started with a long bow when he was 4, then moved up to the crossbow.

    “Before he could hunt, he had to show me he could shoot, and after he put 90 percent of his shots inside a paper plate at about 30 yards, I told him he was ready to go,” Bires said. “I wasn’t surprised at all with how he handled himself, but this is still exciting. And it’s more rewarding for me to see Owen put that perfect shot on that doe than it would be for me to get a 12-pointer on my own. Seeing a young hunter do everything right is just great.”

    Owen Timbrook, 7, shot a white-tailed doe with a crossbow in Williams County.
    Owen Timbrook, 7, shot a white-tailed doe with a crossbow in Williams County.

    Another young hunter who benefitted from having a great teacher, and one who also bagged his first deer this season, is Braden Curry. This 8-year-old second-grader, also from Whitehouse Primary, got lessons in how to handle a muzzleloader from his dad, Steve, and recently the two of them were off to a friend’s farm in central Ohio’s Licking County.

    They got checked by a wildlife officer on their way to the blind, which gave the young hunter a quick demonstration of how that important process works. After about an hour in the blind, they saw several does pop out of the woods into a hay field just 30 or 40 yards away, so Braden put the muzzleloader up to one of the viewing openings.

    Braden, who got a near perfect score on the hunter education/​safety course and was a fully licensed hunter this season, had his nerves got the better of him this time, and that group of deer moved on before he could put one in the sights.

    Then another doe presented itself and gave indications she was being followed, and soon a buck came into view.

    When Braden whispered “I am on him,” indicating he had the buck in the crosshairs, the hammer came back and Braden fired. The buck took off, but Steve had seen the round hit so he knew the shot was good. After a round of high-fives and a sufficient waiting period, they gathered some other guys who had been hunting at the farm and set out to track the animal.

    Armed now with flashlights, they followed the buck’s trail a short distance, then they saw the antlers. Braden did not just shoot his first deer; he harvested a trophy 10-pointer.

    But then the kid outdid himself. The property owner asked about the venison, because there was a needy family with four children nearby that could really use the meat. They got the venison, and Braden kept only the rack.

    Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.