Dad taught these boys well. The two south-central Kansas brothers have seven Pope and Young bucks between them, and they're just getting started. (August 2009)
Hunting and fishing are outdoor traditions often passed down through generations. Decades ago, if your father hunted or fished, you pretty much did the same. However, in today's world that's not necessarily the case. There are more demands on kids' time than ever before. Organized sports start when a boy is 5 years old. Video games and increased urbanization have all lead to fewer kids learning the ways of the wild.
Archers Jay, 22 (left), and Grant, 24, Lindal shot these two big bucks near their home in Clearwater, Kansas. Jay has four P&Y bucks to his credit, while Grant has three. Photo courtesy of the Lindals.
There are fewer examples of kids following in their fathers' footsteps these days. It makes it all the more special when it happens, especially when two boys in one family can boast of seven Pope and Young bucks between them!
"My dad is the one that got me into the outdoors, and I wanted to do the same for my kids," said David Lindal of Clearwater, Kansas. "It's always been something I've enjoyed, and I thought they would like it, too."
Growing up, Lindal fished Fall River with his brother, father and grandparents all the time.
"That was our honeyhole," Lindal said. "And, of course, living out on the farm in northeastern Sedgwick County, we hunted rabbits, quail and pheasants, but there weren't a lot of deer back then."
Lindal, 47, was divorced when his three sons were small, and the boys lived with their father. And although Lindal had plenty of experiences outdoors hunting and fishing, he didn't start hunting deer until 1990.
"I had a friend who knew a guy with a left-handed bow, and from that point I just started to get into it and progressed from there," Lindal said. "I started shooting without sights and figured if the Indians could do it, I could, too. I just looked down the arrow."
As Lindal managed to bring home game, his boys were interested in the animals and stories, like most youngsters might be. He made it a point to take them to the outdoors and would build blinds for them to sit in to watch deer. They would search for shed antlers and look at deer sign. Two of his sons developed a keen interest in hunting early on and the mold was set.
"I think Grant was about 12 years old when he started going and Jay was about 10 years old," Lindal said of his boys, now 24 and 22 respectively. "At first, they just watched, but as they got older and could pull 45 or 50 pounds a year or two later, they got hooked on bowhunting and went all the time with me. As they got older, they started learning and progressed to the point of setting their own stands and figuring out where they wanted to hunt on their own."
The learning process was also a two-way street, according to Lindal.
"Once I started buying the boys' bows, they got started with sights and peep sights, and I decided to switch because they were more successful than I was," Lindal said with a laugh.
Initially, Lindal would hunt near the boys in a tree stand to keep tabs on them. But it wasn't long when both Grant and Jay set their own course as teenagers often do.
"Once they decided they could do it by themselves at 14 or 15 years old, they were on their own and wanted to do everything by themselves," Lindal said.
The boys' independence was aided by the fact that they lived within a stone's throw of the Ninnescah River and some prime deer hunting.
"I never knew how long I would have to work, so when they got home from school they were in their tree stands," said the machinist-electrician of many of their evenings during the fall. "They could pretty much walk to their stands, and we've got some pretty good land to hunt."
The boys' excursions were learning experiences themselves, and Dad tried to help by putting things into perspective and offered up just a bit of advice.
"I always told them to let the little guys go so they could get bigger," Lindal said. "But I told them to be successful you have to shoot one first, so try not to pass up much and get used to the feeling of shooting one so you could build your confidence, and from that point on you could shoot something else."
Lindal has been successful deer hunting over the years and typically buys a couple of antlerless permits to shoot deer for meat. But now it's a mission of antlers, and he lets lots of nice deer walk waiting on bigger bucks.
"I've got one that will go 162 and another that might go 138, but that's all I've got as far as big bucks," Lindal said. "And I've choked on some nice deer, but both my boys have nicer deer on the wall than I do."
Having a good teacher helps, according to Lindal, but he gives his sons much of the credit for being patient, diligent and paying attention to detail. He said both boys are good shots and know how to scout deer. Plus, they work hard at it and put in their time, a must for killing big deer.
"As a kid, you pretty much do what your dad does," Grant said of many examples of kids getting started hunting. "And that's what he did. I really enjoy bowhunting with my dad and brother."
There wasn't much hesitation when Grant was asked what he enjoys most about bowhunting now: "The adrenaline rush!"
"And I like seeing wildlife, too," the Cessna employee added. "It's a sport that takes time and you've got to be particular as to how you do it as far as setting up and all that."
Grant starts bowhunting early in the year when the Kansas bow season first opens. If no big bucks make an appearance, he'll go ahead and fill an antlerless permit.
"And about the middle of October I'll stop," Grant said.
When he starts hunting again later, he's looking for a big buck.
"I've passed up a lot of deer just waiting on a good one," he admitted.
Over the years, Grant is considered to be the most successful as far as taking big deer among the bowhunting family trio. He's taken four bucks big enough to qualify for the Pope and Young record book, something hunters much older than he have never accomplished.
"I've got deer that score 168 7/8, 155 7/8, 135 5/8 and 133 5/8," Grant said of the scores exceeding the 125-inch minimum.
His 2008 buck is the 135 5/8-inch buck that sported 8 points.
"Last year was kind of sporadic," Grant said. "I'd show up, and I'd see just one deer and then go a week or a couple of weeks and not see a thing. It just wasn't a very good year, and I honestly don't know why. I would guess it was the moon phases and the rain we got during the season."
David said Grant took his biggest buck when Grant was a high school senior, and it was one of the most memorable deer for the trio.
"He was in the right place at the right time, too," Lindal said.
Grant echoes those sentiments when he described his first-ever monster buck.
"I was 17 years old," Grant said of his most memorable outing. "That was the first big one I'd ever killed."
It was Nov. 25 and both Grant and Jay decided to go hunting.
"I think I got in the tree about 4 o'clock and shot him at about 4:30, so it was a quick hunt," Grant said. "I'd never seen that deer before. He had 13 points and was a big non-typical with stickers all over the place."
Jay, now a 22-year-old senior at Fort Hays State University, runs for the school's track team. His experiences during high school all revolved around sports, but he had plenty of time to work in some hunting, too, outside of winning many events.
"He's got most every long-distance running record at his high school," said a proud father of describing Jay's interests outside of hunting. "He's really good."
"My dad never really pressured us into going hunting," said Jay of his recollection of getting started. "We'd look for deer and deer antlers. My brother Grant and I really got into it, and it just seemed like one day I tried it and I've been hooked on it ever since and I love it."
Jay enjoys getting out and the quiet time of bowhunting.
"You get to relax and think about things and see wildlife you never get to see if you were sitting at home," Jay said. "I love everything about bowhunting."
Jay's hunting trips during high school were frequent. However, he admits he's lost time at college while participating in sports and really misses all the time away.
"I had to give up a lot of time to hunt so I could do well in athletics," he said. "I don't get to hunt as much now that I'm in college, and I haven't killed any deer the last couple of years, although I've had opportunities, but it just didn't work out."
The "one that got away" is a hunt Jay remembers most. It happened last year.
"I missed a big 12-pointer," he said laughing.
Jay has killed three bucks big enough to qualify for the Pope and Young record book. One scored 135 4/8 and the others just over the 125-inch minimum. Likely his most memorable deer was one of the latter, his first big buck he took as a high school senior.
"I was going into the state meet, and I had been dominating. I just knew I was going to win state," Jay said. "I won the 4A state cross country title in the morning and then went hunting."
Jay and his dad headed toward Strong City to get into a tree stand.
"Later than night I shot a 10-point buck that went 127," Jay said of his event-filled day. "It was a pretty good day."
When asked which experience that day was more gratifying, Jay had to think about the answer for a moment.
"They were both great, but I think that hunting with my dad and sharing that moment with him was pretty cool," said the young man. "The night before my dad had seen that 10-pointer and passed it up. I ended up shooting it the very next night. That was nice to share that with him."
Jay's interest in sports, competition and even the great outdoors has fueled his desire to bowhunt and also helped him develop as a person.
"With deer hunting you have to have patience, and that's something that has helped me with people, too. You've got to have patience with people," Jay said. "And whenever you get in a bad mood or something, deer hunting just kind of takes you away from everything and gives you the opportunity to think about things and enjoy yourself."
David, Jay and Grant all point to Grant as the better shot of the trio. And as big brothers often do, Grant has helped his younger brother learn some things over the years, too.
"My brother, Grant, he's a stud and knows his stuff," Jay said. "Me and my brother have taught each other a lot over the years, and he's helped me out quite a bit."
David equates the joy of the outdoors to other activities, and said the similarities are watching kids be successful, no matter what they do. He would tell parents that getting your child outside bowhunting is about so much more than killing a deer.
"You get to see so much wildlife," Lindal said of the reasons above and beyond killing a deer. "You can enjoy yourself outdoors watching bald eagles, bobcats, squirrels, or bobcats catching squirrels. It's just the simple fact that nature is great, and it's not all about killing something."
The joy of the outdoors transcends generations and provides a reason for families to get together and share old memories and create new ones.
Grant has purchased a home nine miles from where he grew up. It's a safe bet he will have more hunts with his father and brother. Jay hopes to finish college soon, and he hopes to have more time to spend with his family doing what they enjoy.
Jay said he's ready to go back home to hunt and fish. "These last four years, I've lost a lot of time with family and friends doing the things I've enjoyed. I'm ready to have that back."
Grant is just down the road now from his father and also looks forward to spending more time with his family or at least swapping stories. One thing is certain: The joy of the outdoors has bridged many gaps over the years. Fathers may not always agree with sons and vice versa, but those that have some things in common manage to get along just fine. The rewards often come when a father sees his sons grow up into adults he can be proud of.
That's always good in today's world. There are plenty of stories that didn't have happy endings.
"The most enjoyment I ever get from their hunting is seeing the joy on their faces and seeing what they get out of hunting, period," Lindal said. "They do
n't get in trouble; they've been great kids and they just really enjoy the whole outdoors."