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Grandpa and Old No. 5: This Buck's For You

Outdoor Happening: A whitetail in a field of dreams.

Grandpa and Old No. 5: This Buck's For You
Jay Lawyer poses with the Florida buck that holds a special place in his heart.
  • "Outdoor Happening" posts occasionally on floridasportsman.com. See the end of this article to learn how to share your own story with us.

In my late 20s, I was blessed to have a grandfather who was still young enough to hunt, fish, and travel. He, along with my grandmother and my wife and I, would often embark on great adventures together, exploring places from Central America to Africa and many spots in between. But of all those memories, the best one is of Grandpa and old No. 5.

It began almost 25 years ago, when I brought Grandpa up to a friend’s hunting camp. It was late deer season in Northwest Florida, and it was cold. Grandpa brought his well-worn 30/30 with iron sights, and instantly became a hit when he busted the seam of an old brown box set up at 50 yards.

During that first hunt, he fell in love with a stand that was dubbed No. 5. It sat on a beautiful little field, close enough that Grandpa could walk to it easily from camp. He could then return if he got too cold, and the longest shot was about 65 yards away. For the next 15 years, whenever we were at camp and stand selections came up, my grandfather, being the eldest statesman, had the first choice. His answer was always, “Old No. 5.” It did not matter where big deer had been seen, what the wind was doing, or what the conditions were, he was going to go sit No. 5, year in and year out. He beamed like a Christmas tree one year when he took a big doe, but we were never able to get him his buck.

In 2016, at the age of 92, Grandpa’s diabetes was worsening, and a lung disease required him to use oxygen constantly. Despite these challenges, he joined me for one last hunt, and we arranged a ground blind beneath No. 5. One of my fondest memories was sitting with him under that stand just waiting for one more deer to come out. It didn’t matter whether or not he took a shot; what mattered was that we were together 
one last time.

Fast-forward to late January of this year, and our longtime friend who owns the camp allowed me to bring up a small group of old and new blood. We had a great time, as always, and even harvested a few deer during the long weekend. On the last morning, I felt a silent pull to go to sit No. 5 in honor of Grandpa. Climbing up in the dark, I sat and reminisced about the countless memories we had shared here at camp. As the sun rose, I offered my morning prayers, expressing gratitude to God for placing me exactly where I was, at precisely that moment.

Just as I was about to begin packing up, a small button buck emerged into the field with his attentive mother quietly observing from the wood line. Then, a sudden urge prompted me to glance out a side window, away from the field and down the access road. Standing broadside was a nice “shooter” buck, working a scrape and leaning up to lick a branch. I could hear my grandfather whisper, “You better shoot now.”

I vaguely remember picking up the rifle and taking the shot, but what remains vivid in my memory is the walk down to him afterward. Despite having bagged bigger bucks over my years of hunting, I can tell you I’ve never taken a better buck. I could envision Grandpa grinning and hear him say, “It’s about time!”

This one’s for you. He’s your buck, and there will always be a special place in my memory and in my heart for you, him, and for Old No. 5. FS

Editor’s note: Quick reminder that the next whitetail season is a few months off yet, but May is the time to start getting your applications in for premium public land hunts. Click here for details on FWC quota permits.


Send Us Your Story

If you have had an interesting, exciting or funny experience in the outdoors, tell us about it and send us a picture: It might qualify as “An Outdoor Happening.” If your story is chosen, you’ll receive a Florida Sportsman gift pack worth over $100. Email your story and one or two photos to editor@floridasportsman.com. Or send your story by mail to Outdoor Happening, Florida Sportsman, 3725 SE Ocean Blvd, Suite 202, Stuart, FL 34996.


  • This story was featured in the Outdoor Happening section of the May 2024 issue of Florida Sportsman magazine. Click to subscribe.



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