My Journey

A Newfound Love:” My first hunting experience wasn’t all that exciting, but I fell in love with it nonetheless.

Can’t Sit Still:” The anticipation of missing any action.

The Release of Shooting Bow:” Getting into archery and the importance of practice.

Archery 2013:” A summation of my first archery season experience.

Regular Season 2013 Happy Hunting!:” A great experience during my first Opening Day!

A Newfound Love

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It all started four years ago.  My boyfriend and I had been dating for about three months; he was a senior at Gannon and I was a senior in high school.  Weekends were our time to drive either way to see each other.  Conveniently he was from the same town that I was, so he would come home to visit his family as well as see me.  As soon as hunting season started however, that drastically changed.  He would come home on Friday after class and go straight out into the woods.  Saturday and Sunday, all day, would be the same thing.  I’d be lucky to have an hour at night with him awake after a tiring day of walking and trekking up and down ravines and climbing trees.  I never understood how he could do it, day after day and not be sick of it.  I actually found it kind of annoying.

I had grown up with hunting.  My dad, my grandparents, my aunts and cousins all took part in it, but it was something I never actively was a part of.  As I got older, I drifted away from the hunting a little bit; my grandparents were having health problems and my dad didn’t have time to hunt anymore.  When I started dating Brian, the excitement started to come back but not until after dating for over a year.

Seeing him get so excited to go out in the woods made me curious.  I already loved being outdoors, so how big of a difference would the actual act of hunting be?

October 2011, we had been dating for a year and three months, archery season opened up. Brian picked me up from Jamestown Community College and brought me to his house in between Falconer and Gerry.  After finding me some camouflage gear that would keep me warm, we trekked outside to walk up to his tree stand.  The hill was steep, the path was rough and since his steps were effortless in being used to the hiking I fell behind fast.  So he would stop and wait for me to catch up, catch my breath, and we would start again.  When we finally got to the tree I looked up and almost regretted my decision to come with him.  The tiniest seat possible was twenty-five feet up in the tree.  He expected me to sit on it and rest my feet on branches below me. Never before had I realized how terrified of heights I really was.

He later admitted that he should have put his spikes closer together for me, but hindsight doesn’t help the present situation.  Brian literally had to push me up the tree.  Each time I’d grab a spike above me, he would launch my foot up to the next spike to stand on.  By the time I reached the seat we were both tired, but the windedness quickly left when I looked down.  We were so high up! Brian had to tie me into the tree to keep me from having a panic attack, while he laid across branches with his bow in front of him.

We sat for five hours without seeing anything except a lone squirrel digging around for nuts.  But those five hours became one of the best memories that I have with Brian.  He was so patient with me on the walk up, so patient getting me up the tree and getting me down was also a process –the last spike fell out so he had me hang until he was on the ground then told me to let go, trusting that he would catch me.  Sitting in that tree with him, with the natural world forgetting all about the humans within it was amazing.  We heard deer; we heard squirrels scampering; whether or not we saw anything didn’t matter.  It was the peace of it all.  The challenge of getting to a spot and the reward of being a part of something so much bigger than myself was one of the best feelings I had ever experienced.

I wanted to experience more of it too.  All my judgmental thoughts of Brian wanting to spend more time in the woods than spending it with me dissipated.  Well yeah, I’d like to spend more time in the woods too.  It was a stress reliever, a release.  I’m so thankful for that day, and Brian wanting me to come out with him to understand why it means so much to him.  That day I fell in love all over again; not only with the man that brought me out there, but with what he brought me out there to experience.

Can’t Sit Still

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Fast forward two years into archery season again, Brian brings me out with him up onto his grampa’s land. We had been there a couple times before but had just never seen anything worthwhile. The ladder stand rested on a tree on the corner of a field with the back side engulfed by the start of the woods. The sun was shining perfectly over the field, turning it gold, and rays were streaming through the canopy of the trees into the woods.

About two hours in, Brian spotted a few deer moving their way onto the field with his binoculars. Two were nice bucks keeping to the border between the field and the woods but slowly creeping their way closer to the stand.  Brian grabbed his bow to have it ready as they neared about sixty yards away. The anticipation of hopefully seeing some action and Brian get a nice was started to overcome me, but no sooner did that feeling start I heard a rustling noise behind me, and a lot of it.  I turned my head painstakingly slow, worried that I’d spook whatever just neared the tree.  Ten yards away was a doe and her (almost full-grown) fawn. She didn’t see me per say, but she knew something was up.

Brian craned his head around the tree to look too and was immediately dreading the outcome of it all.  Doe are smart, a lot smarter than bucks.  He was worried she’d spook the buck in the field before he even got a chance to shoot.

And that’s exactly what happened.  It took about fifteen minutes for her to eventually spot us, and it probably was my fault.  I was so anxious about what would happen; I didn’t want to look away from her and risk her seeing the movement of my head, but I didn’t want to miss Brian shooting that buck.  Every time she’d look down to eat I’d tear my head around to look in the field.  When nothing was happening out there, the bucks still sixty yards away, I’d slowly turn my head back to the doe and her baby.

Maybe it was me.  Maybe it was something in the field.  But all at once the does in the field took off towards the opposite direction, the doe and her baby by our tree jolted into the woods, and the bucks took one swift leap into the brush as well, leaving us with nothing to watch or hope for during the rest of the night.  When it was dark and we were walking back, a frustrated Brian said, “I was ready to poke you with the broad head if you kept moving around.  C’mon Andi, you know you have to be dead still when deer are that close!”

I felt bad, but I really couldn’t help it.  I explained to him that I was getting antsy, and the anticipation was killing me. I didn’t want to miss anything exciting.  He just laughed and told me to keep walking, knowing he was the one that got me into hunting, so he’d just have to patiently teach me how to remain calm in stirring situations like that.

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I started to get better at the whole “sitting still” thing.  But when it wasn’t so important I sure did get jumpy again.  During spring turkey season 2013, Brian had taken me out to roost turkeys up on his grampa’s land.  He’s calling and calling, sounding like a female turkey trying to get a gobbler to, well, gobble.  We’re walking up the hill, he’s calling away, and all of a sudden we hear one gobble right back at us.  I squeal and grab his arm, smiling ear to ear.

He just looks at me shaking his head and sits me down on a log next to him.  “Hunny, that turkey is probably a mile or two miles away. Their voices travel a long ways, we’re going to have to walk to see how close we get.”  I didn’t care about the walk, I just wanted to hear it gobble again.  Out of no where, a closer one gobbled that was probably only three hundred yards away. Again, I grip Brian’s arm and start laughing.  I couldn’t contain my excitement.  I think he eventually gave up on calming me down since there wasn’t any need to worry about me spooking the turkeys.

We walked up on them within one hundred yards of where they were roosting.  I had to work the next day so couldn’t go with him in the morning to hunt them, but he did end up getting one.  It was probably for the best though, I most likely wouldn’t have been able to sit that still for a turkey.  They have insane eye-sight and can see the slightest movement, even one as little as moving your finger to pull a trigger.  Roosting them was more than enough excitement for me and as much as Brian loves to take me out with him, he was probably relieved that I wasn’t able to go out; that way he was successfully able to harvest one without worrying about me getting too antsy.

The Release of Shooting Bow

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Brian had bought me my own bow in early spring of 2012.  I had tried to pull back some of his own bows, but the lowest weight any of them went was still too heavy for me.  I was so happy when he handed it to me when he got home and couldn’t wait to try it out.  We went out on the back porch to shoot at targets he had already set up in the lawn.  He showed me how to shoot by demonstrating himself with his own bow, then it was my turn.

I notched my arrow onto the string and into the rest, put the butt of my hand on the handle, clipped my release onto the string and drew back.  Brian fixed my posture, making sure my arms were aligned right and that my left arm was a tad bent so the string wouldn’t hit my forearm when I released the arrow.  “Now set your site on the top pin over the middle of the target.  It’s ok if you can’t hold it there steady, control it by purposely moving it around the target, circling it until it’s almost as if you are completely steady on the target.  Take a deep breath in, let it out and as you let it out squeeze the release.  It should be a surprise when it goes off.”  I did as he said and was within inches of the bulls-eye.  It was the best feeling ever.

Time passed and Brian would bust on his friends saying how good of a shot I was, probably better than any of them.  I knew part of him was joking around.  I couldn’t get past 25 yards, my eyesight was too bad to aim on a small target beyond that, but on 25 yards I was spot on. I knew he was proud of me too.  He’d brag to his Grampa and family, and it made me feel good that I was able to learn something so awesome from someone that I loved so much

Practice is the key to success when it comes to shooting bow.  I’d have better days than others too.  Some days I couldn’t do more than two or three good groupings of shots.  Other days I could shoot well over ten good groupings and not be tired at all.  Bow is definitely a passion of mine now whether it’s a good or bad day.

Releasing that arrow is literally a way of releasing stress that’s built up over that day or that week.  Doing something that powerful is such an intense feeling.  When I started, a part of me thought maybe it would turn into actual bow hunting, but not too soon.  I wanted to be confident in shooting enough times, with enough weight, at different angles to know I could make a kill shot on a deer.

Brian would work on me as much as he could to try to prepare me.  He’d take me to His Way Archery in Jamestown to shoot on their inside course, and Brian would help me clean my bow afterwards.  Seriously, this is getting corny, but anything hunting, even practicing archery, became some of the best times I’ve had with Brian.

I remember when I “Robinhooded” my first arrow. It’s frustrating because that’s an arrow completely ruined and they’re not cheap, but at the same time it takes a truly accurate shot and damn good group to stick one arrow with another.  Brian’s reaction about a month later as he finally tried to take the one arrow out of the one it stuck, “I still can’t believe you already Robinhooded an arrow.  You know how long it took me to do that? Years.  It took you only a year and a half.” I just humbly smiled before saying that I learned from the best. Shooting bow has definitely become something meaningful to me, a past time basically, and I never plan on stopping it.

robinhood arrow

Archery 2013

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I had taken both courses necessary to hunt in regular season and in archery, and spent the necessary money on gear and tags.  I was ready to hunt.  Due to my work and college schedule, the only times I was able to hunt were during the weekends.  So the first weekend of archery season, Brian took me out with him in his stand.  The walk wasn’t bad, or else I was just finally getting used to the long hikes up to wherever his stands were placed.  He pointed to a tree, “This was the old tree.”  I looked up it and was happy we weren’t in it anymore.  It was so tall! Little did I know he found an even bigger tree for us to sit in.  I took one look at where my stand was, his seat was ten feet higher than mine, and I literally laughed in his face.

“We’re really going to try this again?” My seat was twenty feet high and there were only four or five spikes leading up to it, each four feet apart.  “Brian, you’re so mean,” I joked and took a breath.  I can do this, I thought, I’ve come a long way from that first day! It was an utter failure.  I really wish someone was out there to take pictures, or at least had a trail cam documenting us.  I made it up two or three spikes, halfway to my seat, and panic starts setting in.  I was exerting myself so much in just lifting myself up to each spike and balancing and reaching for the next one I was tiring myself out quick.  Brian had to push my up to the next spikes. Finally I was within arms reach of my seat, but it didn’t feel sturdy enough for me to pull myself up with it.

My hand had slipped from the spike I was holding and for a second it felt like I was falling.  I froze.  I gripped the bark.  I threw my face into the tree.  Brian was below me, coaxing me to relax.  But I wouldn’t budge.  He knew I was afraid and that he should have put more spikes in for me, so he did the next best thing that he could: he became another spike for me.

Brian climbed up over me, wrapped himself around the opposite side of the tree, put his foot out and told me to step on it, that he’d lift me up into my seat.  I honestly don’t know how he did it.  Maybe it was the fact that he knew if his ankle didn’t hold that I would go down hard.  Maybe it was the fact that he is just that strong.  But in those couple seconds all of my weight rested on his foot, ankle locked he lifted me up close enough to my seat where I could grab on to something sturdy and pull myself in.

It took about another fifteen minutes for my nerves to calm down, and Brian just sat above me grinning.  That was the most exciting part of the night, though.  We didn’t see a darn thing.  I really think it was because of how dramatic everything had been in that half hour, but who knows for sure.

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The next weekend, Brian put up two more stands just for me: ladder stands.  He made me get up in them after we set them up to make sure I could handle it.  These stands were ones I could walk to by myself and get into without any help.  I sat in these stands two weekends in a row with nothing except a family of ducks swimming in the river behind me.  It was getting really frustrating when he’d come home with videos he’d recorded on his phone of all the deer he was seeing in his stands, while I never saw anything.

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The fourth weekend of archery we trekked up the hill to put another ladder stand up for me next to a ravine.  “You’ll definitely see something up here!” Another two weekends in a row of nothing.  One of those days in the afternoon I had moved to another stand that he had put up about three hundred yards away from the one next to the ravine.  I didn’t feel as safe in that one though and ended up having a panic attack in it.  Needless to say I didn’t go in that one again until much, much later.

The last weekend of archery came quick, and as I was sitting in my ravine stand I heard leaves rustling.  A doe spurts up a path then slows down as she passes me. I grab my bow and am about to clip my release when I hear a grunt.  A buck is coming! I anxiously waited for it to come, knowing it was chasing this doe who heard the grunt and sprinted up a nearby path to get away from him.  I clipped my release and was getting ready to pull back when I saw the flash of brown through the bushes.

In the moment that I was about to pull back, I saw that it was a half rack buck, what would have been a nice six point, now a three.  In that second of processing that he was missing his whole other antler, I missed my chance to stop him and shoot him.

I was so disappointed in myself and knew I only had one day left to shoot something, which was the last day of archery.  My college schedule and work schedule wouldn’t permit me to hunt any sooner than that.

The last day Brian surprised me by deciding to sit with me in a stand, the same stand I had a panic attack in.  He kept saying how he’d seen so many deer the past couple nights near it and that I should just try it one more time, that he’d be with me.  Reluctantly I go.  We make our way up the tree and get me in my stand with him in his about six feet above me.

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From 11am until 3pm there are absolutely no deer around.  Finally, though we start seeing movement.  A nice four point shows himself about 70 yards away and is walking towards our stand.  I grabbed my bow hoping he’d keep coming closer, but at about 50 yards he goes back up the hill and around us.  My heart dropped.

Sitting back in my seat, I’m thinking that I’m never going to get a chance to even try to shoot at a deer. But about fifteen minutes later, as I’m looking to my left and scanning the woods, the same buck makes another appearance.  This time only twenty yards away.  The moment I see him would have been the ideal time to have my bow ready to shoot, but since I was looking on my left scanning to my right, and he was on my right, I didn’t see him until it was too late.

As he made his way behind a couple thick trees, I stood up and grabbed my bow.  There was a space between two trees that he was surely to pass by and I pulled back, waiting for him.  He stopped right behind them though, only his head poking out.  My arms started shaking, not only from the adrenaline rush but from the fact that holding a bow back for a long time is difficult. When he looked away I had to collapse the string and wait to pull back again.  In the moment I went to pull back he came into view, but went back behind more trees and then took a sharp turn to walk away.  Brian tried grunting to get him to turn around, but the buck wasn’t going for it.  He was gone.

I started to cry, I’m not going to lie about it.  I was frustrated. Devastated.  Why couldn’t I have been looking to my right when he was on his way in? I would have had him for sure.  About two minutes later, Brian got my attention.  A tiny four point was making his way in on the same route that the other one did.  This time I had my bow ready, however, I was still shaking from the first buck encounter.  The little buck was going to go through the same space in the trees as the first one, so this time I was ready.  As his body came into view, I grunted, lined up my sights and let the arrow fly.  He ducked it and took off running.  I looked up at Brian, not knowing for sure what happened.  “Did I miss?” I asked. He nodded his head with a smile, trying to get me to laugh and I did.  At least I attempted to shoot it.  Deer are sometimes just smarter than the hunters.

A little bit later, when it was nearing 4:30 and sunset making itself known, action started to take place.  About 150 yards away three doe ran across the hill with two big bucks following them.  The bucks took notice of each other, started circling each other and out of nowhere got in a head on collision.  They were sparring! It was one of the coolest things I had ever seen.  The bigger buck took down the other decent sized buck easily, sending it shamefully away from the does.  Before I even had time to process that one buck was nearing us while the other one trotted away, the doe were behind Brian and me, and they knew we were there.

I didn’t move, I just watched them. Brian on the other hand was watching the huge buck make his way closer and closer.  Brian had his bow ready, but knew he would have to wait until the last possible second to pull back so the doe didn’t spook the buck too early.  It was wishful thinking.

The buck was within thirty yards, all Brian needed was one more step so he’d be out from behind a tree to give Brian a kill zone.  The does, however, couldn’t let that happen.  They hightailed it away from us when they finally decided what was going on which spooked the big buck away from us too.  Brian was devastated, but it was cool to have seen so much in one night.

We didn’t get out of the stand until almost 6:15pm due to more does coming in.  We didn’t want to spook them and let them know where we were for the following day.  When they finally left, we went home to shower and change then went shopping for food for our packs for the following day’s Opening Day of regular season.  But that wasn’t all. When we got home we had to get all of our stuff ready then go back out into the woods.  Brian wanted to set up another stand for me for regular season, one that I’d feel safe sitting in all day.

It was tiring, we didn’t get to bed until midnight and the alarm was set for 4:45am.  Even as we lie in bed, about to pass out from exhaustion, we couldn’t help talking about the day we just had.  I missed my first shot ever on a deer.  Brian lost the opportunity to shoot one of the biggest bucks he’d ever seen in our area due to doe.  Not very fortunate events for us, but still one of the coolest memories to have, and we got to share it with each other.

 

Regular Season 2013 Happy Hunting!

I had pressed the snooze button twice.  The night before’s tasks didn’t allow Brian or me to go to bed until almost midnight, but at least we had all of our stuff ready to go near the door.  When he realized what time it was, about 5:25, he threw the blankets off of us and started running around the house.  I took my time rolling out of bed, played with our dog for a minute and casually walked out into the kitchen to start making breakfast.  “There’s no time!” he yelled.  “Get your gear on, we have to go!”

“Honey, sunrise isn’t until 7:05.  First light won’t be until 6:30, we’re fine.”

“No, I have to walk you up to your stand then get down to mine,” he replied. I hadn’t realized how badly he wanted to make sure I safely got to and up into my stand. As sweet as that was, I really wanted breakfast.  But knowing how much of a hurry we were in now I reluctantly put the eggs back in the fridge and put all of my gear on and grabbed my pack and rifle.  Brian didn’t even bother putting any of his stuff on since he’d have to come home anyway to get his things to drive to where his stand was.

Getting to my stand I was already sweating, but I didn’t want him to know that.  He’d get worried that I’d start to freeze once my body temperature started cooling down.  He climbed up the tree first, hanging my pack and rifle on a spike, then came down to let me climb up.  It took my about three minutes, finding my footing in the darkness and pulling myself up into my seat.  He climbed up to give me a kiss, any last minute advice and a quick “Good luck, I love you.”  With that he was gone, and when I couldn’t hear his footsteps anymore I became nervous.  I had missed that buck in archery the day before.  What would I do if I missed a buck today? I couldn’t bear the thought of it.  About ten minutes later I heard the beeping of a car as it zoomed down the road; Brian’s final “good luck” as he drove to his own stand.

Needless to say after the excitement of getting ready and sitting in the stand, I fell asleep.  I was probably out for about an hour when I heard footsteps and rustling coming towards me.  Slowly looking up I saw a coyote, a huge one, nearing my stand.  Before long it was ten yards away with no idea I was twenty feet above it.  This was at 6:55 am, sunrise was in ten minutes and the anticipation brewed inside of me.

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About a half hour after sunrise I saw the first deer.  A huge doe grazed about one hundred yards in front of me. I grabbed my rifle and practiced with the scope, zooming it in and out, figuring out the best way to angle my face to look in it to have a full lit view of a target.  About an hour after that a button buck came by, and I considered shooting him.  But the night before’s scenario told me not to, that more deer and more bucks came later in the day.

Over the course of the ten and half hours sitting in the stand, I fell asleep about seven times.  Three of which were deep sleeps at least forty-five minutes long.  The rest were just innocent dozes.  At one point while I was awake I had accidentally knocked my muck boot to the ground while I was changing my socks to dry ones from sweating so bad. That was an awful feeling.  I couldn’t go without a boot on for the rest of the day, but I also didn’t know if I could climb out and back up my stand without Brian’s help.  After a couple minutes of contemplating, I decided I needed my boot so climbed down with only one boot on.  I think the fact that I climbed down basically only using my arms and one protected foot gave me the confidence to be able to climb back up with both boots on, and I did it.  Safely back in my stand I managed to stay awake for the rest of the day.  But I was beginning to wonder if I should just be done for the day.  I had so much homework to do and work around the house to get done.  Surely I could come out the next weekend to hunt.

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At this point it was about one o’clock.  Sunset was at 4:58 and I was getting restless.  I hadn’t seen the deer from the night before, which wasn’t too surprising since Opening Day is always such a random day for deer appearances due to getting spooked non stop.  Brian’s phone had just died too, so there was no way for me to ask him what he thought I should do.  I ended up deciding to wait it out.  It became a countdown: three hours left, two hours left, two and a half hours left, two hours and fifteen minutes left.  It was dragging!

It was just nearing four o’clock, I was about to stand up and stretch when I saw a patch of brown move about 150 yards away.  Three patches were moving, no, four! I grabbed my rifle to look through the scope, but the first three deer I knew right away were the doe I had been seeing the past two days; it was a momma and her two babies.  Behind them, however, was a buck. I could see the white of his antlers.  I rested the barrel of the rifle on the bar of my stand and looked through the scope.  Yup, it’s definitely a buck,  I thought.  Without even bothering to count the points, only knowing it was at least a four point or just a really tall spike, I lined up my lines of the scope on his chest; he was standing broadside.  He was moving slowly, casually chasing the does.  I looked up from my scope to see where the next big space between trees were and spotted where my next chance would be;  I lined my scope up with that area and brought it back to him. I followed his path, waiting for him to be in that space.  As his body moved into the space I wanted, I grunted loudly which made him stop in his tracks.  With a deep breath, I slowly let it out and began to squeeze the trigger.

BOOM!

Wait, what just happened? The three doe took off which was what I expected.  But the buck took off too, in the opposite direction.  And he was booking it big time.  Jumping along like nothing touched him.  I was 90% sure that I heard him crash about fifty yards from where I hit him, but I wasn’t positive.  For about three minutes I just sat there, mouth agape, wondering what I did wrong.  How did he take off so quickly?

I had to have missed.  There was no other explanation.

But, no, I couldn’t have missed.  I lined everything up.  I even recreated the scene for the next couple minutes: lining up my firing lane with where he was standing, looking through my scope, practicing pulling the trigger again.  Everything should have been perfect.

Since Brian’s phone was dead, and mine was close, I texted my sister to call my dad to ask him what I should do.  He said that I should wait fifteen minutes then go look.  By this time it was nearing 4:15pm, so I decided to wait until about sunset to get out of my stand and look around.  On the chance that I did miss, I didn’t want to spook anything else, particularly that big buck that Brian and I saw the night before which came out around 4:45.

The time ticked by slowly.  I just kept replaying the scene in my head.  Around 4:30, another buck did come, but it was a button buck again with no clue of the scene that just occurred.  Finally 4:45 rolled around.  I unloaded my gun, lowered it and my pack to the ground, then climbed down the tree myself.  Walking over where I was sure I hit him, I began searching for blood.  My sister and mom were anxiously awaiting my call or text that I hit it, and my sister’s boyfriend was getting packed up in his stand ten minutes away to come help me look for it.

My excitement started to turn to panic.  There wasn’t any blood.  I searched a five foot radius, then a ten foot radius.  Nothing.  I seriously missed him. My disappointment was getting the best of me and I was about to give up, but taking one more step and turning around I saw red.  A two foot circle of red splattered blood.

I started to cry I was so happy.  My first reaction was to call Brian to leave him a voicemail, I don’t know how understandable the voicemail was since I was a blubbering fool at that point, but I was just overcome with joy.  I had shot a buck! Now it was just a matter of finding him.  Never having tracked by myself before, I wanted to give it a go.  Each drop of blood added to my adrenaline rush of actually shooting a deer, but after thirty feet the trail went cold. I searched for five minutes longer before I walked down to the house and waited for my sister’s boyfriend and Brian.

The three of us started searching where the trail had ended.  It took us about ten minutes to find the next blood droplet, then Brian decided a couple notches in the ground were actually from the deer running/jumping away.  We followed those for about fifteen feet until we found another spot of blood.  At this point the brush was becoming thicker, so we had to start looking on branches and twigs for blood instead of on the leaves.  The guys found a drop of blood on a broken branch, and followed that into thick brush where my sister’s boyfriend found another twig with blood on it.  We were getting closer, I just knew it; I knew he had crashed someplace close it was just a matter of where.

Before I knew it, my sister’s boyfriend yelled, “He’s over here!” I sprinted as best I could over logs and mounds of dirt to where he was laying.  And again, I started crying.  Brian hugged and kissed me; I was so happy. He immediately made me get next to it for pictures.  I was ecstatic.

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After gutting it, we dragged it out of the woods, and Brian loaded it on the three-wheeler to bring down to the house.  My family came for pictures and to see it for themselves.  They were so happy for me.  Phone calls and texts came all through the night; the word had spread fast between family members and close friends congratulating me on my first deer and a buck at that matter.

The buck ended up being a five point, bigger than I thought although he had a little body.  Either way it was neat to know that at some point this winter Brian and I would be eating steak from my harvested deer, rather than his.  His mom joked around that I was the one putting food on the table now since he hadn’t harvested anything yet.

Brian, being the type of jokester he is, kept busting on me all night and all the next day, “I really thought it was the huge buck from the last night of archery, Babe.  When I listened to your voicemail I was really hoping it was.” He then went on to “complain” about having to be the one to get the big buck now.  After his jokes he always made a point to tell me how proud of me he was, that my deer was an awesome first deer, bigger than his first deer and a couple other ones he had harvested even after hunting for years.

It felt good to be on the flipside of things.  This whole experience never would have happened without him.  Brian taught me how to be patient and calm in a stand or any situation. He taught me the basics of hunting.  He taught me how to love hunting.

If someone would have told me five years ago that I would have sat in a stand for ten and half hours before shooting a five point buck, I would have laughed in their face in disbelief.  But now, I am an active hunter.  I do love the sport. It was an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life, and I’m so blessed to have had the privilege of getting the chance to be out there, and the chance to shoot such a beautiful creature.  I couldn’t have asked for a better day either; I lucked out in every area there was and am so grateful for all of the support I’ve gotten from family and friends over my first harvest. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and I’m eager to start practicing bow again to hopefully harvest one in archery next year.

IMG_0044IMG_0042andi 5pt (2)

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