When Andy Day of John Day went out for bow season in the fall of 2017, he wasn’t hunting for a trophy deer but for prize memories with his grandsons, 6-year-old Noah Cobb and 4-year-old Cooper Cobb, now ages 8 and 6.
The tradition of hunting has been a lifelong source of enjoyment for Day, and sharing the basics with these young boys was the goal.
Teaching them to be quiet and patient as they waited for wildlife was at the top of the list.
“I try to keep their enthusiasm up and get them outdoors as much as possible,” Day said.
The boys had a lot of archery practice, both at their grandfather’s home and at their own home with their parents, Bob and Shanley Cobb, in John Day.
It was early in September when Day started taking his grandsons out, usually one at a time, with sandwiches his wife, Maxine, packed up for them.
“We would sit for a couple of hours and have to whisper,” Day said. “We’d have snacks and something to drink — something they didn’t usually have at home. It keeps them from getting bored.”
Trail cameras were in place before they headed out, which Day reviewed for the best times to hunt.
“We had a blind set up with chairs in there to sit on,” he said.
“We saw little, ‘spikey’ bucks and turkeys,” he said. “We were looking for a mature deer to shoot.”
Day went out with his grandsons four different times and went three or four on his own.
“I took a couple shots and missed,” Day said. “Sometimes, with a little extra pressure, it’s a bit more challenging to concentrate on shooting, which I tell my 4-H kids every week.”
Day is a 4-H leader for youths ages 10-18, teaching archery and shotgun skills to kids in Monument and archery to kids in John Day. He works with them once a week from the time school is out until the competitions for the Grant County Fair.
With about three days left of the hunt, Day had Noah with him when he missed again.
“(Noah) told his parents that he wanted to take his bow to help me out,” Day said. “He said he wanted to back me up.”
His grandsons, of course, wouldn’t be able to legally shoot a deer until age 11 through a mentoring program, when they hunt off a parent or guardian’s tag, or at age 12 with their own tag.
Day said, “I kind of laughed, then went out and was able to shoot one myself.”
That time he hit the buck broadside using his compound bow, a PSE Carbon Air.
“It was a good, ethical shot,” he said.
It was early evening when Day called his older grandson.
“Noah, I need some help,” he told him. “I shot a deer, and I need help to track it.”
By the time the 6-year-old was able to join his grandpa, it was dark, so with head lamps on they set out to find the prize, along with Cooper, Bob and Shanley.
Noah took the lead.
“I had him follow the blood trail about 70 yards, and he about tripped over the deer,” Day said. “We dragged it out through weeds and a ditch then were able to load it into my truck.”
Day said he loves seeing meat on the table from his hunts, as well as homegrown potatoes and beets.
“The joy of hunting for me is being in the outdoors,” he said. “I enjoy the meat. It’s not always a trophy animal.”
“Everything on the table was something that you’ve either grown or harvested out of the field to eat,” he said. “I appreciate those things and being outdoors and the opportunities on this earth that God has given us.”