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Smokey Ethridge bags his first deer

By By Mike Giles/The Meridian Star
Dec. 29, 2000
This has been a year of many firsts for 7-year-old Smokey Ethridge of the Martin community. Although he has been hunting with his dad, Dane, since he could walk, this was the first year that he has taken his own gun into the woods.
Dane purchased a New England Arms .223 single shot rifle for Smokey to hunt with. In preparation for the youth deer hunt, the pair practiced shooting until Ethridge felt Smokey was proficient enough to hit a deer at 50 yards or so.
Dove season came first of course and Smokey and Dane were out in the field for that as well. Smokey was named after his great grandfather, Smokey Ethridge, who was well known as a bird hunter. Following in his footsteps, the younger Smokey
harvested his first dove during a hunt this season.
Next came squirrel season and once again Smokey scored, bagging his first squirrel. With all of the excitement of the boy's success around the Ethridge house this year, Smokey and his dad almost have to sneak out of the house to go hunting because Smokey has a 3-year-old brother named Colby who is chomping at the bit to go with them.
The big day, the 2000 youth deer hunt, finally arrived for the West Lauderdale second grader. Smokey and his dad were perched in a deer stand together in Kemper County. Late in the afternoon, around 4:45 a.m., Smokey spotted a lone doe easing toward the stand.
As the deer paused in an opening, Smokey took aim and fired one shot at the deer. In an instant the deer vanished. When the deer ran off Smokey exclaimed, "Daddy, I had it on him!"
Dane heard the deer crashing through the brush so he figured Smokey had made a good shot.
When they got to the spot where the deer had been standing it didn't take long for them to locate the deer. As they went a few yards into the brush Smokey promptly saw the deer and started celebrating while pumping his fist into the air.
The deer had been hit cleanly and the small 64 grain bullet had done its job with a swift, clean kill.
Although it was his first deer of the year, it wasn't to be the last. Smokey has already harvested another fine deer for the supper table. That deer was also taken with one shot. In fact, the deer dropped in its tracks and didn't move.
With a little over a month left in the deer season, Smokey will most likely get another shot at a deer. And who knows, he might just get his first buck.
One thing is for sure however; the 2000 hunting season has been a year of big accomplishments for the young hunter and his dad.
Mike Giles is an Outdoors writer for The Meridian Star.