The 2010 hunting season brought a new wave of excitement for young Hoosiers. Previous to 2010, Indiana youth were not allowed to harvest antlered deer. While there is much debate regarding the real motive for the antlerless only law, one thing is certain, youth were clearly legally allowed to harvest one deer of either sex in the 2010 youth season.
Sonny Toney, a 9-year-old hunter from Sunman, Indiana, was quick to benefit from the new rule. I met with Sonny and his parents, Fawn and Joe, to hear his story.
Sonny started off by telling me his 2009 story. ” Last year my mom, dad and I were hunting. My mom had the video camera going and a buck came in about 10 yards away. I asked my dad if I could shoot it but he told me I wasn’t allowed, so I had to let it go and I was pretty upset,” said Sonny. While a harvest didn’t come out of the encounter, Sonny still admitted that it was a fun experience. Sonny later harvested a doe so 2009 was still a success. This year however, Sonny didn’t hesitate when he saw a buck coming in. Joe, Sonny’s father, decided to set up in a new spot, and the only way he could sit with Sonny was to sit on a pine limb that was near Sonny’s stand, talk about fatherly love! “I saw the deer, noticed that it was a buck and told him to get ready,” said Joe. At this point Sonny saw the deer and got ready. Sonny said, “I shot him about 50 yards away and thought I missed him!” I asked Sonny how he was feeling after the shot, he replied, “my whole body was shaking, my legs were shaking and I thought I missed him, so it was pretty crazy.” Sonny and Joe went to the spot where he shot at the deer and didn’t find any blood. A few yards away they saw a speck of blood and started tracking. Forty-five minutes later, Sonny and Joe saw the deer expired on the forest floor.
Stories like this remind me why introducing youth to hunting is not only important, but also special. I could feel the excitement in Sonny’s voice as he was telling his story, and to be honest it brought me back to the excitement of my first buck.
The fact that Indiana youth are now allowed to harvest a buck gives us even more incentive to take them hunting. It increases the potential for a successful hunt, which ultimately maximizes the number of interested youth hunters. For Sonny, and many other Hoosier Kids, 2010 was a new year, holding new opportunities, opportunities that they could now legally enjoy.