The sun is still a few hours from rising, but the day is already getting started inside the Sturges house in Miami, Oklahoma.
“When my alarm clock went off it felt like kind of Christmasy, but like deer hunting Christmas,” said 12-year-old Brooklyn Sturges.
12-year-old Brooklyn Sturges is up early for her first hunt of the season. She’s been waiting about nine months to throw on her camouflage so she can head to her deer stand before the sun comes up.
“I just love hunting with my dad. He's super fun to hunt with,” Brooklyn said.
Her dad Brent leads the way to their hunting spot, which is not too far from their back door. He stops first to check the wind, then takes off wearing a red headlamp, which helps people see in the dark without scaring deer.
From the woods, they watched a quiet, foggy morning turn to day.
“It starts getting kind of peaceful, like a song, birds and squirrels and all the animals you can hear, it's just really peaceful,” Brooklyn said.
The father-daughter duo saw two does that were out of range and a young buck that Brooklyn decided not to take.
“You just don't get a deer every time that you hunt,” said Brooklyn. “It's fine because we have all season long.”
Brooklyn has had many successful trips over the four years she's been hunting, filling the freezer with meat each and every harvest.
“We're not just killing deer, we're feeding our families. We're feeding other people. It's very special to do that,” said Brooklyn.
And now her little brother, 9-year-old Lake, has joined the family tradition last year.
“Hunting is really fun,” Lake said with a big smile. “We practice almost everything night and we're getting pretty good at it.”
Like his sister, Lake is a natural. He ended last season with a doe and a buck. His reaction after each shot shows how much hunting means to him.
“Oh, I was like pretty excited, really excited and I started shaking... oh my! It was my first deer and it made me really happy,” said Lake.
Their dad, a lifelong hunter, records almost all their hunts. He said being behind the camera, watching his children succeed, is better than being behind the bow himself.
“[It’s] a blast, better than anything I ever shot. My biggest buck didn't compare to when they killed theirs,” Brent said.
With each hunt, there's a lesson. They learn patience and what it means to respect wildlife.
“We spend hours and hours and hours to get the opportunity to take a deer,” Brent said.
And they get to do it together, making a lifetime of memories along the way.
“It's a fun way to hang out and spend time,” said Brent. “Just keep the legacy going.”
Brent and his wife Windie adopted Brooklyn and Lake from Haiti and said they are two of their greatest blessings.
They also have two older siblings, Hunter and River, who also love to hunt.