8-year-old bags first buck with help of cell phone

Kennady Bearden killed this buck with the help of a cell phone that was mounted in a way that allowed her to see what the scope was seeing. She is too small to look through the scope and pull the trigger at the same time.

Youth hunter was too small to see through rifle scope

Kennady Bearden decided she wanted to go deer hunting, but there was a problem. All of 8-years-old, she could hold her daddy’s .270 deer rifle to her shoulder and reach the trigger, but she could not get close enough to the scope to see through it.

Daddy Grover Bearden to the rescue. Bearden devised a bracket to hold his cell phone to the scope. With the phone’s camera turned on, Kennady could see her target and Bearden could, too.

“Basically, it was like looking at a video screen, like playing a video game on the phone,” Bearden said. “The added advantage was that I knew where she was shooting. Plus, in case she missed we would know more about the shot placement.”

Kennady was no stranger to hunting, Bearden said. She has been going to the deer stand with him since she was 3 years old, but she had not shown any interest in killing a deer herself. Then, all of a sudden she said, “When I turn 8 I want to shoot a deer.”

“So, I let her know if she shot a deer I was going to use it in taxidermy competition,” said Bearden, who operates Southland Taxidermy Studio in Easley. “That excited her. She has grown up in the taxidermy shop and by just being around it she has developed a great love for hunting, fishing and the outdoors.”

Afraid the blast and kick might spook her and make her flinch if she started out shooting his big deer rifle,Bearden got out a .22 rifle for Kennady to practice shooting with. Once she was shooting good with the .22 he decided it was time for her to go hunting for real.

They saw no deer at the stand on the hunt area in Anderson County that morning, but Bearden did see a nice buck running on the power line about 200 yards away. That afternoon when they returned to the stand a group of does were feeding on corn, but it was a buck-only day so Kennady and her mother played games on the cell phone.

“About 45 minutes or an hour later a little buck walked out, but he did not feed. He turned and stared back into the woods. Then the buck walked out,” Bearden said.

He eased Kennady up on his leg so she could see over the rail, got the rifle in place and turned the cell phone camera on. He slipped the safety off but warned her not to touch the trigger yet.

“Wait until that buck turns sideways,” her mother cautioned.

The bigger buck chased the younger buck away, then walked back to the bait station and turned broadside.

“By this time there were five or six deer out there, but he had the best rack of the bunch,” Bearden said. “She had the gun to her shoulder and she and I both were looking at the screen. I saw the little dot on the screen was right on his shoulder and I said, ‘Shoot’ and she pulled the trigger.”

Kennady’s buck weighed more than 150 pounds at the processor and featured an impressive 9-point rack that Bearden rough-scored at 110.

The stand she shot the buck out of could be called the Bearden Family Lucky Stand. She is the fourth of his children to take their first deer from the stand, his wife shot her first deer from the stand and several of their friends also killed their first deer from the stand.

“When I saw a deer in my daddy’s shop I knew it was time for me,” said Kennady, a third grader at West End Elementary School in Easley. “When the deer walked out I was excited and I was nervous. Then it was time to pull the trigger.”

And it won’t be the last time, even if she still has to use her dad’s cell phone to see her target.

“I want to hunt some more. I’ve already let some deer pass because they were too small. I want to get a bigger one.”