Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Preteen Sharpshooter; Local 11-Year-Old Has Killed 15 Deer and Reeled in Three Sailfish

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Preteen Sharpshooter; Local 11-Year-Old Has Killed 15 Deer and Reeled in Three Sailfish

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Julavits, The Times-Union

With 15 deer under his belt, Travis Allen knows a thing or two about hunting. And, at 11 years old, he's just getting started.

Each Friday, from mid-August till January, the fifth-grader leaves Mill Creek Elementary School in St. Johns County and travels with his dad to a hunt camp in South Carolina. After 2 1/2 days of hunting, father and son return early Monday morning.

"We leave camp about 4 in the morning and I drop him off at school between 7 and 8," said John Allen, Travis' father. "If it was up to him, we wouldn't come back.

"Hunting is his love. Even his teachers kid him about it."

At age 5, Travis began going into the woods with his father, sitting in a stand and observing. At age 8, the youngster was allowed to shoulder a rifle and shoot.

"He couldn't hit anything that first year," said John Allen, vice president of Usina Contracting, Inc. in St. Johns County.

But in his ninth year, Travis shot six deer. When he was 10, Travis took seven more whitetails, including a 10-point on a hunt with his father at the Texas A&M Read Ranch property in Texas. So far this season, Travis has dropped a doe and a spike in South Carolina.

All 15 deer -- nine of them bucks -- have been recovered, a testament to his ability with a rifle. Travis shoots a bolt-action Browning 7mm-08 with a shortened stock.

"He's to the point now, he's not shooting everything that comes out," John Allen said. "He's looking for something with horns, and he's never shot a deer we couldn't find."

The Texas 10-point was a highlight.

"When I saw him coming across that field, all I could see was antlers," Travis said.

The Allens belong to two hunt clubs in South Carolina near Estill. For the past year and a half, Travis has hunted by himself, with his father dropping him off at a stand and later picking him up. …

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