December 16, 2021
By Game & Fish Staff
Not many things make a deer hunter happier than to see a son or daughter bag their first whitetail.
It’s an exhilaration that will be lovingly remembered and shared at future get-togethers like family vacations and deer camp.
"It was a special evening I'll never forget," Illinois teen Rylee Bigham said after she harvested a large whitetail buck while hunting with her father this fall.
We all love stories about world-record bucks and the pursuits for the buck of a lifetime. But for first-timers, especially young hunters, that first kill — whether a doe, spike buck or 10-pointer — can be just the beginning of a lifelong passion.
Game & Fish has received several reports of youth hunters reaching the first-buck milestone during the 2021 season, so we thought we’d share some of those stories.
- If you have a first-buck story to share with us, let us know by clicking here.
Grandson's Buck Delights Earl Bentz
Passing down the love for deer hunting to the next generation is as awesome as downing a Booner buck yourself.
Legendary bassboat pioneer Earl Bentz was all smiles to see his young grandson, Bentz Rich, take a nice eight-pointer this fall.
Young Bentz harvested the big deer at the family ranch in Tennessee, sharing the experience with his grandfather and mother, Mariel. As you can see in the photos above, they could not be prouder.
Earl Bentz, an inductee in the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, is the founder of Caymas Boats (as well as Stratos, Javelin and Triton previously).
'Special Evening' for Illinois 12-Year-Old
Rylee Bigham, 13, an eighth-grader at Mercer County Junior High in Aledo, Ill., bagged her first deer this season after three years of dedicated hunting.
Rylee, a volleyball and softball player, also turkey hunts and fishes with her father and grandfather. The Bigham family, a multi-generational group from grandparents to grandkids, has been hunting together for many years in Mercer County, Ill.
"It was a great time especially sharing it with my Dad and really enjoyed learning more about how to hunt, too. It was a special evening I'll never forget," Rylee said.
She Even Led Tracking Expedition
Samantha Donley, 12, of Pleasant Ridge, Mich., harvested her first deer the day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 26, 2021).
She killed the four-pointer while hunting with her father, grandfather and uncle.
She made a perfect shot with her crossbow and led the tracking expedition.