This last weekend was my son's second youth tag in SE Arizona in two years. Last year was a 34A tag and he fell in love with chasing Coues whitetail. He opted for 35A this year because a good friend of ours who took us out last year knows 35A much better and Jacob really likes our friend. Learning from last year, we practiced out to 300 yards with his new scope on his Savage 111 youth in 7mm-08. With my supervision, Jacob has put together all of his own loads for this rifle, using Barnes 140 gr TTSX. We hunted hard Friday in the heat. We saw 36 does, 12 fawns, and four bucks, including an absolute monster Coues buck. It didn't work for that buck due to distance from us with a ton of open ground between us, private property nearby, and then busting him out of an unexpected area on our way to another distant buck. That second buck didn't work out either, and Jacob learned why they are called "The Grey Ghost". I earned "Dad of the Year" award during our lunch break when we realized the fuel canister for my Jet Boil had about 10 seconds of fuel in it. I offered him my semi-warm MRE to be fair, but Jacob opted to eat his Mountain House spaghetti cold, and ended up liking it. We hiked a little over four miles in the heat and not so rolling hills of SE Arizona yesterday. Jacob carried all of his own gear this year and switched with me when I carried his rifle to give him a needed break. He carried the heaviest pack he's ever carried and never once complained. He's the type of kid that has to dance around in the shower to get wet, but he's tough as nails. Proud is an understatement. Saturday morning was harder to get up, but we did it because you can't fill a tag lying in bed. We switched gears and went to a spot known to hold bigger bucks, but not as many overall deer. I've been sworn to secrecy, so I can't say where we went. As we were approaching our first glassing spot, we noticed two white tails flagging up and over the ridge across from us. The lead buck was another brute. We quickly set up and started glassing while Jacob got his rifle set in the Triclawps. Within 10 minutes, we had two bucks feeding across from us at 315 yards. We were as close as we could get, so I looked at Jacob and asked him how comfortable he was. The calm confidence he responded with told me everything I needed to hear. Of course, the bucks went behind the tree and started feeding away from us and down into the next ravine. We watched them come back out and started ranging them. Jacob was waiting patiently behind his rifle. When the bucks finally presented a shot, they were closer to 375 yards. I gave him the shooting solution, he adjusted his turrets like a pro, and he settled in to wait for the opportunity for a clean, clear shot. As the bucks were moving, our good friend and mentor took over coaching Jacob and I knew instantly he was in good hands and didn't need me beyond calling turret corrections and spotting the shot. Through his Taekwondo journey, I've learned to let go as a dad and trust in him and others to keep him on track. As soon as the bigger buck opened up and presented a broadside shot, Jacob hit him hard, but not hard enough. Our friend coached him on what to do when the buck stood back up after bedding down for several minutes. When the follow up shot presented itself, he remained extremely calm and sent the finishing round back out to 375 yards before we were ready. I was fumbling with my range finder to see if Jacob needed to change his turrets. He knew what was needed and didn't hesitate. Fortunately, I was able to jump back behind my 15s at the shot and watch the buck roll down the slope perfectly into a tree. If not for that, I'm not sure we would have found the buck. Jacob showed amazing control, composure, and (most importantly), confidence. My friend and I are impressed and proud beyond words. It took forever for the buck to finally die. We'd watch it twitch its tail and kick its leg and then be still for 5 minutes. Every time we thought it was dead, it would twitch its tail! After 12 minutes of not moving, we figured it was dead and formed our recovery plan. We had to hike across to the point where the buck was down, which was no easy task, either. Our friend stayed put and kept eyes on the deer while we got above it to see if another shot was necessary. Five minutes of staring at the spot with no movement told me everything we needed. The steepness of that slope is not justified in the pictures, but I'm thankful the hike back to the truck was downhill. After pictures and gutless field dressing, my friend and I split the deer between the two of us, and Jacob carried the head. Going out heavy is an amazing feeling and Jacob, although tired and sore, showed the world and, most importantly, himself exactly what he is made of at 11 years old. Jacob says now he's only hunting Coues in SE Arizona, although he may try a carp deer once just to say he's done it! Now for his 24-hour black belt test this Friday/Saturday (Oct 18-19). Jacob watched so many parallels from this hunt as they apply to his upcoming black belt test. He's stronger than he realizes and integrity and perseverance are everything!