This has been a fine deer season in Arkansas, likely the best ever in numbers. Hunter Lieblong has done his part.
Hunter is a 7-year-old who lives in Conway. Yes, his first name is appropriate. He has taken four deer so far and still has more hunting to do. He’s qualified for the Triple Trophy award of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, among the youngest ever to win the award given for taking a deer by each of three hunting methods – archery, muzzle-loader and modern gun.
Hunter used four different weapons in getting those four deer. First was a doe taken with a compound bow. Then another doe was downed with a .223 rifle. Third was a doe taken with a .50-caliber muzzle-loader and fourth was a 5-point buck taken with a .243 rifle.
Hunting is a segment of outdoor recreation that all the Lieblong family enjoys.
The family includes dad Trey, mom Stephanie, 4-year-old sister Kelsey, grandfather George Lieblong and a host of uncles, aunts and cousins. They use family land in Perry County and land near Blevins on Hempstead County, some of which is owned and some leased.
"It is family time," Stephanie Lieblong said. "We get together and just have a good time (in deer season)."
Hunter has taken all four deer this season from the same spot, an elevated box stand that measures 8 feet by 8 feet and has a number of comforts and facilities. It was built for him, and he calls it "the condo."
Those four deer are not beginners’ luck for Hunter Lieblong. He went with his dad on a hunt at age 3, went on several more hunts at age 4 and killed his first deer at age 5, just before the state set the minimum age for deer hunting at 6. Last year he took another deer, a buck.
"When I shot the muzzle-loader, it hurt my shoulder," said Hunter. "This year the muzzle-loader didn’t hurt."
With the current deer season, Hunter Lieblong has been consistent in his shooting. All four deer were taken at relatively close range, from 25 yards to 57 yards. All required only one shot.
The two rifles Hunter used were Rossi young model single shots, a popular type for young Arkansas deer seekers. After the doe was downed during the early antlerless season, the Lieblongs bought a new rifle for hunter. The .243 provides more punch than the .223 and with little difference in recoil.
Hunter said he has practiced shooting with the rifles a good bit on his family’s Perry County tract.
Deer aren’t the only hunting interest for Hunter. He has been successful in dove hunting and in duck hunting this year, using a youth model Remington 1100 shotgun. Dad Trey relates an incident during a dove hunt. An adult spotted some doves and said, "They may be within range of my 12-gauge," then boom. Hunter brought down a dove with his 20-gauge gun.
Fishing is another activity for Hunter, and he smiled in telling of a trip to Lake Ouachita that resulted in a nice bunch of bream for him.
He is a second-grader at Jim Stone Elementary School in Conway and plays football, baseball and is getting into basketball.
"I really like math," Hunter added, which is coming in handy for him with the multiple deer he’s accounted for. Six is the season limit for Zone 12, where the Lieblongs hunt, so Hunter still has a couple to go.
But one is the number that comes first, as in one shot per deer.
Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.