This is the problem with a lot of kids out there. They fear the gun and therefore walk away from shooting sports and hunting. Teagann who was probably ready to walk away has an amazing father who was willing to be patient and work with her.
Teagann Bondioli of Wisconsin Rapids had never shot a high powered gun before. At the age of 11 she has shot a crossbow and .22 caliber rifle. Growing up, her father Chris encouraged her in the shooting sports and coming out hunting with him but she could not get over the thought of shooting a gun with a ‘kick.’
All the so called experts would tell you to back down on caliber and grain and find a weapon that fits the person shooting. Chris did all of that and then some, gearing the gun with a special recoil pad and muzzle brake. Teagann began shooting her compound bow at an early age and fell in love with it but a gun was a different story.
Last year at the age of 10 Chris outfitted Teagann with a crossbow and she was able to harvest two deer within weeks of each other, a large doe and a nice buck. Both deer she harvested with clean kills in a calm manner of firing the trigger all thanks to dad.
Chris spent a lot of time at the range with Teagann and the crossbow so that shooting was second nature. The two of them also spent time watching hunting shows on tv. When there were whitetails on the screen Chris would have Teagann aim the uncocked crossbow at the vitals of the deer and they would talk about shot placement. He would pause the show to reinforce the conversations.
Teagann was just not ready for a gun that would take down a deer although she really desired to do so. As Chris is a guidance counselor, he relied on his professional skills to test a theory he believed in.
Chris has followed the growing of Austin and Cade and how I taught them to harvest game with a gun. With Austin it was not a problem, he handled it from the age of 10 with a 12 gauge. Cade was a different story, so I utilized a lower caliber gun with him. When he did use a 12 gauge there were some tears shed and positive reinforcement occurring.
Teagann however was not really near that level. So Chris set up a gun for her. It was a .243 with low recoil. He sighted it in with his dad and as you know firing a weapon that is sighted in with a scope is accurate no matter who shoots it.
Chris took the gun to the living room, had the action open and had Teagann aim at deer on the television. Safety was a priority and he made sure the gun was secured and all precautions were taken. When it was time for her to shoot she would simulate pulling the trigger and create muscle memory.
When the 2017 youth hunt began, Chris and Teagann were on a piece of property that the landowner wanted antlerless deer shot. The weather was terrible just before the sit began and it stopped raining just as they got into their blind.
It did not take long for a doe to come out and stood broadside at 70 yards. Teagann lifted the rifle like she had so many times before. Chris was amazed at how smooth and quiet she was. It made sense as she had done it dozens of times. She put the crosshairs on the doe and pulled the trigger. She did not cry nor squirm and was super excited. As the two were recalling the excitement another doe came out apparently curious as to what was going on in the foodplot. Teagann placed the crosshairs again behind the shoulder and dropped her second deer of the night in its tracks.
Since the regulations have changed in Wisconsin and you no longer need to tag a deer immediately they sat and waited. A half an hour later two families of antlerless deer made their way into the foodplot. Teagann was excited and told her dad that they were on the field as he was looking out a different window. The landowner who was also in the blind, told Teagann to shot another one.
She placed the crosshairs again on the front shoulders of the lead doe and pulled the trigger. It was evident that this one was hit but ran off into the woods. The three got out of the blind and got onto the blood trail that lead only 30 yards into the woods.
I talked with Teagann that night and she was ecstatic that she was able to do the unthinkable. Not once did she mention the kick of the gun or never wanting to go again. There were no tears shed and she never flinched. I know people that are adults and flinch on the shot because of bad habits they learned at a young age. Chris perhaps has invented a new technique that although unconventional may be very effective.
Please keep in mind that they spent a great deal of time practicing with the gun and insured that gun safety was a priority. I highly doubt that there are many 11 year old kids out there that have harvested 6 deer in their first two years of hunting. 6 you may ask? I forgot to mention that two weeks ago Teagann shot a big doe with her crossbow. Maybe one of my next articles will be on how Teagann loves to help cut the deer up and process it, but one thing I do know is that Chris has set her up for a hobby for life. There is no better satisfaction as an outdoor dad than knowing that.
In an effort to get more reader feedback I will be putting together a wildlife research prize package valued at over $50 just in time for the November rut. In order to qualify you must leave a comment below. Each person who comments weekly through the third week of October will be eligible. Comments must be either in the form of a question related to the content of the article or an observation from the field. Good luck and I look forward to hearing from you.