By RALPH BARTHOLDT
First bucks are special.
They are often young deer that just breached the 1 or 2-year-old mark, with antlers — forked horns, or small, three or four pointers — looking like the cupped hands of someone in an egg toss.
First deer can often be rattled in with an old set of sheds, clanking them together. They are often less wary than old school whitetail bucks, whose head gear includes heavy bases and the deer themselves have the sense to make you turn a couple times in your deer stand as you hear them huff or snort or wheeze knowing you’re around.
For a first deer, Carson Malinauska’s Unit 5 Panhandle buck was extraordinary.
And Colin Malinauska, 10 years old and hunting for the first time on a mentor tag, was out of the ordinary, too, for a novice whitetail shooter.
His mom, Taylor, is a teacher in Coeur d’Alene.
“Oh, he’s pretty proud of it,” she said.
She was talking about the buck the 10-year-old, her middle child and oldest son, shot on her and husband David’s property near Worley.
The land is agricultural and the Malinauskas’ acreage contains pockets of pasture and trees.
David had been hunting for elk in the St. Joe River country, but an early snowfall this season kept him at lower elevations than normal, not able to access the higher country he calls his hunting grounds.
Carson was with him for part of the hunt, and David told the boy he could shoot a deer if he saw one, but the hunters saw neither an elk nor a whitetail buck.
“I saw some sign,” David said about the elk tracks he marked in the snow. “I didn’t see an elk.”
Unusual, he said.
Having grown up in Coeur d’Alene, David has killed his share of elk, but this season was disappointing.
His hunting trip was discouraging until David decided, after the fruitless pursuit of elk, and at Carson’s prodding, to sit in the deer stand on his property.
As they approached the stand on a Saturday evening, the hunters saw the big buck mingling with a bevy of does, but it quickly slipped into the forest.
They climbed into the stand and not a half-hour passed when the 5-by-5 buck returned to the pasture and strolled toward them.
“It was 20 or 25 yards away,” David said.
Its antlers were chandeliers.
Carson shot it with a single round from his .243.
“He was pretty lucky,” David said. “He was pretty excited.”
David estimated the deer would score around 130 by any measure.
At 10 years old, his son is already in the running to meet the biggest deer his dad has shot, which is somewhere in the 140 or 150-class range.
“Nothing too huge,” David said.
Carson’s newfound zeal prompted him to carry a picture of himself and his quarry to school, in case his pals didn’t believe him.
His mom thinks the experience may seal her son’s direction, at least for a while.
“He likes (hunting) very much,” she said. “I would guess as he grows up, he’ll have passion for it.”