John's Journal...

Manitoba's Extreme Whitetails with Whitetail Outfitters

Through the Eyes of a Dad

Click to enlargeEditor's Note: Yesterday we saw a first man hunt that Christopher Messina ever went on through Christopher's eyes. Today and tomorrow we'll see the hunt through Christopher's father's eyes, what made the hunt so special for both of them, and why a wilderness hunt in extreme conditions can be the biggest adventure in both the man and the boy's lives. Anthony Messina from Wallkill, New York, is 34-years old and works in his family's scrap-metal recycling business. Messina's been hunting for 22 years, and this year he took his 13-year old son, Christopher, on his first blackpowder hunt, his first hunt out of the United States and his first man hunt with no women in camp.

Question: Anthony, how did you decide that Christopher was old enough to come on this hunt with Whitetail Outfitters? Messina: I discussed the possibilities of taking Christopher on this hunt with my wife, and she agreed that the time had arrived for him to start hunting with the men. When he'd  asked if he could go on this hunt, his mom and I talked and agreed that if he could keep his grades up, then we'd allow him to come.

Question: What did Christopher think about your ride into the camp? Messina: He loved goClick to enlargeing through the beaver swamps, the mud and the water - particularly the mud. We ride 4 wheelers back home, so Christopher was accustomed to riding on an ATV. However, he'd never been in the extreme conditions we had here in Canada, and he loved it!

Question: Why did you decide to bring Christopher all the way to Canada to hunt? Messina: Well, I knew I was going on the hunt, and he said he wanted to go. After clearing it with his mother, I wanted him to come. I also talked to Doug Grantham, the owner of Whitetail Outfitters, and found out who our guide would be. I wanted to make sure that Christopher would be welcome and that the camp would be all I'd hoped it would be for him.

Question: Anthony, tell me about your first day's hunt with Christopher. Messina: I helped him get into his tree stand. Then I climbed down and got into my stand, which was about 15 yards from his staClick to enlargend. I liked the way the stands were set up, so I could keep my eyes on Christopher. Too, he knew I was close by, but he still was hunting on his own. The first deer that came in was a spike, and he came in really close to us. Christopher and I looked back and forth to each other, and we both knew it wasn't the buck that Christopher had come to Manitoba to take. A little while later, the snow picked up. We heard a branch crack in the woods. I figured the deer had bedded-down because the snow really had started falling heavily. We ate our lunches while the heavy snow fell. Sometime after lunch, I looked over at Christopher, and he was pointing to the other side of his tree stand. I saw his buck - a nice 10-pointer. So, I gave Christopher the thumbs-up sign to take the buck. I felt confident that Christopher could take the deer because he'd been practicing with his muzzleloader at home. I knew he could shoot it accurately.

When I saw Christopher shoot, and the deer hump up, I really got excited. I knew that Christopher had hit the deer well. Up until the time he pulled trigger, Christopher was cool, calm and collected. But as I watched Christopher after the shot, I could see how excited he was, although somewhat shaken and wowed by the whole experience. I left Christopher in his stand to calm down, and Click to enlargeI climbed out of my tree stand, blood trailed the deer and reported back to Christopher that he'd taken a 10-pointer. Then I asked Christopher to climb out of his stand, and I taught him how to blood trail his own deer.

Question: What did Christopher say when he reached where the deer was? Messina: He was really excited and hollering, "I can't believe I did it."

Question: What was seeing Christopher take his first deer like for you? Messina: It was one of the most-exciting moments of my life - far more exciting than when I took my first deer. All the way back to camp, Christopher kept talking about the buck coming in, his making the shot, what he was thinking, and what was happening. We had a great walk back to camp, and his excitement continued to build my own.

Question: Do you think you'll take Christopher deer hunting again? Messina: You bet I will - as soon as next deer season arrives. I've got me a hunting buddy now.

For more information about hunting with Manitoba's Whitetail Outfitters, write Box 70,  Stonewall, Manitoba, R0C 2Z0, call (888) 398-3459, visit, or email

Tomorrow: The Dad Takes a Fine Buck Too

Check back each day this week for more about "Manitoba's Extreme Whitetails with Whitetail Outfitters"

Day 1: What a Whitetail Outfitters' Hunt Is Like
Day 2: He Hunts Monster Whitetails
Day 3: Christopher Muise's Rite of Passage
Day 4: Through the Eyes of a Dad
Day 5: The Dad Takes a Fine Buck Too


Entry 433, Day 4