Kaden Madden, 17, has bagged a big game animal every season since he was 12, but last year was epic with a buck, a doe, a bull and a near-record black bear.
Born and raised in Grant County, Madden said he’s been hunting with his parents, Jesse and Michal Madden, “pretty much since I was born.”
“They packed me up tree stands,” he said.
Madden got his first gun, a .22 for plinking cans and shooting squirrels, when he was 5 or 6. He started mentor-hunting with his father when he turned 12.
“I got a buck and elk calf that season,” he said.
Madden was in northern Idaho in June last year hunting with family friends Trevor and Morgan Bennett of Baker City when he bagged a large cinnamon-colored black bear.
“It was three-eighths away from a Boone and Crockett record and made the Idaho rankings,” he said.
Trevor worked as a bear hunting guide and had some ideas about where to go, Madden said. But it wasn’t easy. They were in thick terrain for about four days, toughing it out through a couple storms and even snow. On top of that, his friends’ truck broke down when the battery died.
“It cost about $800 for a tow truck,” he said.
On their third day of hunting, they spotted the big black bear standing about 100 yards away, and Madden made the shot with a Kimber .300 short mag WSM.
“It was so big we couldn’t roll it over,” he said.
Fortunately there were logging roads nearby, so packing out the skull, hide and meat was less of a chore. But the summer heat damaged the fur on the long drive back to John Day. The skull is mounted now in a case, he said.
Madden said he’s been bowhunting since he was 12, when he shot an elk calf. He said he practices every day in the weeks before the season begins.
About two months after hunting in Idaho, Madden shot a bull elk on the second day of hunting season back in Grant County. He and his father had spotted some elk one day earlier and knew where they had bedded down.
Early the next morning, they moved in from below through a draw and bugled the elk with a mouth reed. It was early in the season and they didn’t expect the bull to be in full rut and respond like it did.
Madden initially figured his father would shoot him as the bull moved closer, but there was some wind and then Madden heard the bull coming toward him. He took the shot at about 65 yards.
“It was a double-lung shot,” Madden said.
They were able to get a four-wheeler within 100 yards of the kill, which made packing out the meat, hide and skull easier. The bull was a raghorn with an undeveloped rack, but it had a 30-inch burst. Madden had a European mount made.
Two days later, Madden was bowhunting the same general area with a friend and shot a mule deer buck. They spotted the buck from about 100 yards and moved within 65 yards. It was an average-sized buck, but the rack measured 144 inches across, he said.
Then in October, Madden was hunting after school with a friend’s rifle and bagged a whitetail doe. It was an area he was familiar with, so he wasn’t surprised to find deer there.
Madden will be a senior next year at Prairie City High School. In addition to hunting, he plays guitar and sings “red dirt” genre compositions that he writes himself. He also is a videographer for real estate projects. He filmed his parents when they hunted in Utah.
Madden’s advice for people who want to get into hunting is simple: “Get out there and do it.” People who want to learn wildlife behavior need to be out there to experience it, he said.