MIKE GILES: 8-year-old Kendall Kennedy shoots first buck

Submitted photo

Kendall Kennedy, 8, proudly displays her first deer, a fine 8-point buck. The Poplar Springs Elementary student is shown with her dad, Gabriel Kennedy, while mom Valencia Stewart took their picture.


Anticipation was running high for 8-year-old Kendall Kennedy as she planned her first youth hunt on opening day of youth season.

Though she’d been to the woods with her dad, Gabriel Kennedy, checking game cameras and scouting before, she’d never accompanied him in search of her very own deer.

Opening day was full of promise for Kendall and she was brimming with enthusiasm.

Kendall loves hunting with her family, especially deer hunting with her father and mother, Valencia Stewart. Opening day of the 2019-20 youth deer season was a big day for Kennedy as she joined her parents on a hunt in Clarke County in search of her first deer.

“We got to the stand at 3 p.m.,” Gabriel Kennedy said. “We kept watching the field and looking for a deer but didn’t see much for the first hour or so.”

That all changed when a deer appeared down range from their stand in an open lane.

“I saw a deer come out and was excited because we wanted her to shoot a deer, didn’t matter if it was a doe or not,” Kennedy said. “I told Kendall to get up in my lap because a deer had come out.”

The aspiring young hunter did just that as she climbed into her dad’s lap, and he handed her the rifle. The deer approached to about 90 yards and was in range.

“I got the rifle up and she looked through the scope and found the deer and tried to put the crosshairs on it,” Kennedy said. “She finally got the crosshairs on the deer and pulled the trigger.”

Tic-boom! The young lady’s Savage 7MM 08 rifle roared, and the deer disappeared.

Had she missed? Where did it go? Is he gone?

“No, I stopped him,” Kendall said. “I put the crosshairs on him and put him down!”

As it turned out the deer had actually been a buck, but Gabriel Kennedy didn’t know that at first. Young Kendall’s eyes were a little better and actually spotted the antlers first thing.

“When I shot him, I said, ‘Did I actually do that?’” she said.

She surely had done that.

The resultant celebration was a great time for Kendall and her parents. There’s nothing much more satisfying in life than passing down your outdoors heritage to your children. Being about to share that experience firsthand with the whole family was just icing on the cake. To provide succulent venison for the dinner table is a rare treat indeed for one so young.

The aspiring young lady hunter attends the third grade at Poplar Springs Elementary School in Meridian, and she surely had a tale to tell when she got back from her opening day youth hunt.

“When we found the buck I was very excited and happy and had all these emotions going through me at once,” Kendall said. “I was just so excited to kill my first buck with my mother and father there!”

“I knew she had a good chance to see a deer because we’d fixed up a special spot,” Gabriel Kennedy said. “We’d seen deer coming to the stand on our game cameras, and I thought she might get her first deer there.”

And that’s exactly what happened as young Kendall Kennedy joined the ranks of successful deer hunters by harvesting her first buck. As a result they’d made a special father/daughter/mother memory that will last a lifetime.

Never underestimate the ability of a youngster if they have a burning desire to do something.

According to Kendall, you are never too young to set new goals or dream of harvesting a buck. Take a child hunting soon and become a mentor for a young hunter and you just might change their world.

Call Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or email mikegiles18@comast.net.



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