Goshen News, Goshen, IN

December 30, 2012

OUTDOOR COLUMN: Five-year-old boy gets his deer

By LOUIE STOUT
THE GOSHEN NEWS

GOSHEN — Cale Myers is the youngest hunter you’ll ever meet.

The Edwardsburg tyke tips the bathroom scales at 48 pounds - on a good day - and is still too young to start the first grade.

Yet he killed two deer on back-to-back days.

With a muzzleloader.

I know what you’re thinking. His dad probably held the gun for him and stood behind the young boy when he pulled the trigger, bracing him from the recoil, right?

Nope. Dad was running a video camera next to him. Pops handed him the gun, the boy placed the barrel between shooting sticks, put a bead on the deer and pulled the trigger.

By himself. Both times.

Lucky shots? Well, his first deer, a doe, was dropped where it stood with an 80-yard shot he made from a box stand about four feet off the ground. The second, a 6-pointer, was killed with one shot from 60 yards out, while the boy hid behind a brush pile.

Now, before you dash to the computer keyboard to spin off a nasty email, Cale’s experience was perfectly legal under Michigan’s new Mentor Youth Hunting program. It’s designed to allow parents who want to teach children under the age of 10 how to hunt and fish.

The way it used to be done.

Chad Myers is a perfect example of that kind of father. He was hunting with his dad at age 8 and killed his first deer at age 12.

But Cale? He started loooong before that.

“I carried him into the woods to check my trail cameras two days after he was born,” said dad. “He’s been tagging along on my hunts since he was 3.”

So when Michigan passed the law last fall offering the Mentor Program, Chad figured, why not? He took the boy to Lunker’s and videotaped him buying his first hunting license ($7.50).

“Hunting has been a long-time family tradition for us,” he explained. “My 13-year-old daughter (Kelcie) shot a 6-point during the early youth season. Cale has always wanted to kill his first deer so I helped him get ready.”

He got the boy a     Thompson Center Omega X7 muzzleloader. It’s a smaller gun, built for women and teens, but not small enough for Cale. The stock was still too long and dad cut off the butt pad so the boy could reach the trigger.

Cale spent a lot of time target practicing this fall. The kid shot the gun, which kicks about the same as a .410 shotgun, about 30 times before his first hunting trip.

So, when that doe walked into sights on Dec. 22, Cale wanted the gun. He was ready.

“I asked him if he could do it and he said, ‘Sure!’” said Chad. “I decided to let him give it a try. It was an excellent shot.”

The next afternoon, they returned to the field and hid behind a brush pile about 4:30 and he shot his buck around 5.

With one shot.

Unlike most fidgety 5-year-olds, the lad stays still, says dad, during the long lulls when the deer aren’t moving.

“He’ll either take a nap or play his hand-held video game,” Chad explained.

But right now, Cale is pumped up. As far as he’s concerned, his season isn’t over.

What’s next?

“I wanna shoot a turkey and a coyote,” he said with a grin.

And he probably will.

Ice still iffy

While many of the area’s ponds and lakes were starting to cover with ice, none was deemed safe on Friday.

Colder weather moving in could improve conditions this week, but anglers are advised to be extremely cautious.

Channels, wind-protected bays and small ponds will be the first to freeze solid.

There were reports of diehards getting onto the Lake Maxinkuckee channels, but some of those diehards got their fannies wet.

Also, there have been reports of good walleye fishing in the St. Joseph River, especially at Berrien Springs, according to Bryan Williams of Trailhead Mercantile in Niles.

Fly tying seminar

You won’t have to wait long to ring in the new year with some fishin’ activity.    

The Michiana Steelheaders will be offering a free fly tying seminar Wednesday night at the DeAmicis Club in Mishawaka.

Attendees will be taught how to tie salmon, bluegill and perch flies that produce fish from Michiana waters. The seminar will start at 7:30 p.m. The club is located on the corner of 11th and Spring Street in Mishawaka.

Contact Goshen News outdoor writer Louie Stout at info@louiestout.com.