Nine-year-old Franklin Nauta was looking forward to hunting with his dad, Dan, for years. However, Dan’s unexpected death in July led Franklin to participate in a youth hunt in DeWitt, Michigan with a heartwarming ending.
After hearing of the loss in the Nauta family, Turkey Creek Whitetails, a ranch in Michigan, invited young Franklin to participate in the youth hunt weekend from September 19 – 20 to honor his father’s memory.
With his brother Brad, Franklin started out on the hunt planning to use a crossbow, but after spotting a deer walk out of bow range, he decided to switch weapons. He picked up his dad’s .30-.30 and within in twenty minutes he claimed his first buck ever, an eight-point buck, honored in his father’s memory.
“Once the deer was down, I put my hand on his dad’s gun and asked him if he wanted to pray and we prayed,” Brad told Cory Olsen of MLive.
Franklin remembered his dad’s lessons he taught him leading up to this hunting season, Franklin’s first.
Dan’s wife Cherié told MLive that her husband would be beaming with pride. Dan didn’t snag his first buck until he was 36 years old; “For his son to get one at nine, he couldn’t have been any happier for him.”
Brad, Franklin’s brother, said to MLive, “It was a little hard. I would have rather it been his dad (out there with him), but I cherished it. It was really special. I plan to hunt with him until he’s ready to go sit by himself.”
The brothers will now continue to hunt together as part of a new tradition in Dan Nauta’s memory.
All images via MLive.