Hunting is weaved into the culture of Grant County, a rite of passage when they bag that first buck with their first rifle.
Thirteen-year-old Ava Brown hit that milestone when she shot a four-point buck from over 350 yards out around the east fork of Vance Creek.
Ava practiced shooting with her parents, Tim and Laura.
After she missed the first shot, they did not get discouraged, Tim said. Instead, he said, they continued to track the deer and spotted it on the side of a mountain. He said it appeared the buck was trying to get to the other side of Highway 395.
Tim said Ava did not hesitate to take the second shot once he got her set up with shooting sticks and helped her locate the animal.
“Before I could look up, she fired, and then I saw him tumbling,” Tim said. “So I knew she hit him, and then I thought, ‘I can’t believe she just dropped him that far (away).’”
Ava sheepishly said she was a “little surprised” as well. Looking back, she said that all she can remember is: “I’ve gotta shoot the deer.”
Tim and Ava dragged the buck to the closed Forest Service road. Ava, who said she was tired by that point, stayed with the animal while Tim hiked to meet Laura and the others in their hunting group.
Laura drove back with an extended ATV to move the deer the rest of the way.
Laura said she was a little disappointed that she did not get to be there when Ava shot the buck. However, she said, when their older son Trey bagged his the year before, Tim was out of town, and it worked out to where each of them got to be with one of their kids when they bagged their respective first bucks.
Bringing family together
For the Brown family, hunting is not about killing animals for trophies.
Laura said she wants her kids to be self-sufficient and know how to harvest their food should they ever be in a situation where they lack the means to get food from a grocery store.
The same goes for raising livestock. The animals are not just “pets,” Laura said. They are a food source as well.
Tim and Laura’s family traditions revolve around hunting trips and time spent with multiple generations of family members at the hunting camp.
Laura said neither side of their family really gets together for family reunions, but they do get together for “hunt camp.” She said they live in the heart of a hunting unit that serves as a hunting camp during hunting season.
Tim said the family moved to Nevada for just over a decade. He said, during that time, their family ranch sold, and the family hunts went on hiatus.
When they moved back, Tim said, they put in for tags and rekindled the tradition. He said the first year they came out was the year Trey got his first tag.
In the evening, when they came into town, they had dinner, played dice games and told stories — about when Tim was a little kid running around deer camp with his dad, to when he got his first buck, to stories about last year.
Tim said one of those family members, Chris Peterson, died in January, but they got “two good years” with him. In those two years, Peterson became a grandparent figure to Ava and Trey, Laura said.
“I’m really thankful we had that (time),” Tim said. “Because it really brings our family together more than anything else does.”