- Associated Press - Sunday, October 5, 2014

ST. LOUIS, Mich. (AP) - Five months ago, Ben Skirvin and his family were tucked into their beds when they awoke to a fire in their St. Louis home.

The family got out safely, but they lost plenty.

One precious item Skirvin wishes he could get back from that May 21 fire is his daughter’s trophy eight-point buck that was hanging on her bedroom wall.

“She shot her first deer at 5 and it was an eight-point and we were more than ecstatic,” Skirvin said of now 7-year-old daughter Riley.

“If there was one item I could have saved in that house, it would have been that buck,” Skirvin said.

Skirvin, who owns DropTine Archery and Outdoors, said his daughter was anxious to get back in the woods this year and maybe take a doe since she had already taken a nice buck.

“Something that really impresses me about her, she hangs around the shop a lot, and here’s this little blond-haired girl who can talk hunting with anyone who comes in. It cracks everyone up.”

Skirvin said they often talk about the importance of deer herd management and the idea that taking does is just as important as taking bucks.

It didn’t surprise him to hear she wanted to harvest a doe this youth season, but the house fire changed her ambitions a bit, The Grand Rapids Press (https://bit.ly/1Cne5tw ) reported.

“This year she said she’d maybe shoot an 8-point if she could,” he said. “It sounds funny but it seems like every time she goes out there’s bucks are coming in to her.”

During a recent youth hunt, Riley was fortunate to have another nice deer walk into range: An 8-point buck.

“My dad was looking around and then he saw a deer and it came up to the bait pile,” Riley said. “I asked him what line to use (inside the scope on her crossbow) and he told me it was the top line.”

Skirvin said the shot was about 23 yards, well within the 30-yard shots he has her routinely practice.

“She’s not quite tall enough to sit in her own chair in the blind so she had to sneak up and climb on my lap,” Skirvin said. “We watched it walk in. I’m still not sure how she was able to keep her composure.”

“She got her crossbow up squeezed it off and got a double-lung shot.”

Emotion rushed through both father and daughter, but Riley found herself experiencing a new feeling.

“I was crying because I was so happy,” she said. “Very, very, really happy.”

“She’s definitely hooked for life,” Skirvin said. “She’s been going out with me since she was 3 years old. I think our second or third trip out into the woods I ended up shooting a doe with her on my lap.”

“When she was 4 I took her out in a two-man ladder stand and strapped her in up there and we spent time hunting together.”

Skirvin said neither of his parents hunted, which presented challenges for him to get out in the woods while growing up.

“Occasionally an uncle or family friend would take me out and as I got older the opportunities increased. Now I’ve worked really hard to provide that opportunity for her.”

Riley said her time spent in the woods with her dad is her favorite part of the hunts. The meat is an added bonus.

“I like having fun with him in the woods and shooting deer,” she said.

“The most exciting, most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had in the woods are with her,” Skirvin said. “It’s amazing to see my child be so into something that means so much to me.”

Next season Riley will likely renew her desire to take a doe, she said, but if the opportunity presents itself, who knows?

“Bucks love me,” she said.


Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, https://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids

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