OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The holiday season started early for Ocean Springs native Les Lala III and his daughter, Taylor Lala. Although the holidays don't actually begin for two more weeks, the father and daughter made the memory of a lifetime last week while hunting near Paducah, KY.
It was during this hunt that the fourth grader harvested her first deer with her dad sitting next to her in a ground blind.
"I am not sure who is the proudest," Lala said. "I am proud of her for what she accomplished, but she is very proud of her deer horns. As a dad, it was an amazing experience that I will never forget."
With the two sitting in a ground blind overlooking a field, eight deer walked out late in the afternoon to feed, but none of the eight were the deer that Taylor wanted to shoot.
"We had hunted last year, but she never had the opportunity to shoot a deer," Lala said. "We spent the off season practicing shooting at targets and getting more comfortable with handling the gun. We thought she might get the chance this year."
Taylor did just that when the ninth deer of the day made its way into the field.
"When the deer came out, she made a great shot from 80 yards out," Lala said. "It was her first deer, and it was incredible. It was a much better experience than any deer I have ever taken. When the deer came out, she was nervous and I was trying to calm her down. I was coaching her through it, because I knew she was ready. When she made the shot, she started screaming and gave me a huge hug. She said, 'Dad, I got him.' It was awesome, and we both shed tears."
The eight point buck scored near 120 on the Boone and Crockett scoring system.
Now, with Christmas more than a month away, a shoulder mount of the deer is being made. It will be one of Taylor's Christmas gifts from her father.
"The holiday season started early for us, especially me," Lala said. "Since it was her first deer, the taxidermist said he will do his best to have it ready for Christmas. She doesn't know it yet, but it's going to be a great Christmas gift. As a dad, I am more proud of her for what she accomplished, and it's a memory of a lifetime for both of us."