The St. Mary Parish marsh and mud sucked the 7-year-old boy’s boots to the bottom with each step after his second step, spilling over the top, but failed to stop him from completing his mission Oct. 18.
Sawyer McDonald’s paternal grandfather, Dr. Eric White, a veteran New Iberia veterinarian and avid outdoorsman, appreciated the youngster’s spunk then and now. It was a Friday afternoon and Sawyer, the son of Adam and Bonnie McDonald, was bound and determined he was going to shoot a buck.
That’s what Sawyer told Mark David and his son, Alex David, 20, before they split up and went to their respective deer stand or deer blind on White’s Miami Corp. lease in St. Mary Parish. The elder David teasingly asked the boy if he was going to get a doe.
Sawyer proudly informed him he already killed his first deer, a doe, that he shot on a youth hunt Oct. 18.
“He said, ‘No, this year I’m going to shoot a buck.’ When Mark asked him how big, Sawyer stuck his arms way out,” White said.
And Sawyer did just that a few hours later.
The Davids walked their separate ways and the Whites both went to a deer blind that overlooks higher ground in the area because the tide was high that afternoon, White said in explanation. They walked through the muck — up to the boys knees — to the deer stand.
Sawyer, who looks strikingly like the beloved character Ralphie Parker in the 1983 classic movie “A Christmas Story,” settled into the deer blind once they arrived. It was the last day of the muzzleloader season, a day when youths were allowed to shoot with a rifle, in Area 7.
Mark David had missed a buck with a nice-sized rack from that same deer blind earlier in the week with a shot from his muzzleloader. Perhaps it was fate that prompted that deer to show up again.
Sawyer carried a Browning A-Bolt .243 rifle, one his grandpa lends youths he takes on deer hunts.
“It’s got very little recoil but lots of power. It’s a perfect kids gun,” White said, noting it has at least 20 kills to its credit over the years.
They waited patiently. After all, Sawyer, who is homeschooled, completed his studies in the morning and had a clean slate the rest of the day.
White didn’t even bring
“I just spot and call shots, which, to be honest with you, is more fun,” he said.
Eventually, White and his grandson saw a buck come out.
“He was up against a tree. He was rubbing a tree with his horns,” he said. “When he came out, it was a fairly long shot, about 141 yards.”
Sawyer raised the rifle and fired.
“He missed the first shot, clean. It must have gone over him (buck),” White said, noting the deer looked in their direction but stayed put.
White had to work the bolt action rifle to slot in another bullet and handed it to Sawyer.
“I told him, ‘Hit it in the middle,’ ” he said.
The boy fired again and the deer sank to the ground. White glassed it and called it a kill.
“Then the little guy almost didn’t touch the ground getting there,” he said, noting the boy practically flew to the downed deer despite the “nasty marsh and wet slosh.”
“He covered the 141 yards in two minutes,” White said, approvingly.
Sawyer’s face was beaming when he got to the 9-point, 145-pound buck. White called the Davids and learned an 8-pointer had been shot by Alex David.
They had two deer to carry out of the marsh. At first, White called it an 8-pointer until one of the Davids pointed out another point.
“Alex said, ‘You better count again,’ ” he said.
They did and there were nine points.
Sawyer was spared the “graduation present” his grandfather doles out. But more about that later.
White’s wife, Marilynn White, shared a delightful post-hunt story.
She said, “The funny part of the story was, Eric was cleaning the deer in the yard. I was feeding him (Sawyer) supper. He said, ‘I’m going in the morning. I think I’ll get a 10-point.’ ”
Marilynn White set the record straight, gently.
“Sometimes when you go hunting, it’s like playing baseball. You don’t always win but you have a good time even though you don’t win,” she said.
She also noted that White’s other grandchild, 3 ½-year-old Piper Provost, the daughter of Adam and Erica Provost, is being raised as an outdoors-woman, well, outdoorstoddler, and has been taken to a deer stand already.
“She is an outdoorsgirl. She likes to ride in a boat and enjoys the outdoors,” she said.
She praised Bonnie McDonald and Erica Provost.
“They’re really good moms and they want their kids to enjoy the outdoors,” she said.
About that graduation present of White’s …
“When they get old enough, they get a skinning knife as a present. That means you get to drag and skin the deer,” White said with a chuckle.
His niece, Laura Delcambre, the daughter of Matt and Alexis Delcambre, found that out last season. She was the most recent recipient of a skinning knight.
A physical therapy student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Delcambre shot a nice 8-point and called White. He informed her it was all hers … but relented a little.
“It was a stark revelation to her,” he said.
The Whites and Davids dragged out both deer killed Oct. 22. And grandpa skinned and field dressed Sawyer’s deer, White said.
“I enjoy graduating them,” he said, happily.
Sawyer’s graduation day will come, down the road, and he’ll smile from ear to ear.