We’ve come a long way, baby. Or have we?
The Cabela’s parking lot was full of men looking for a back to slap.
They’d gathered around a pickup truck to gawk at a buck wearing nearly 200 inches of antler, and after wiping the drool from their chins, they cast about for the one man who looked most like a cat with a mouthful of canary.
Linda Funk, who’d drilled the canary with her .270, took it in stride for as long as she could.
“It was really funny,” Linda grinned. “They were all looking at each other, wanting to know which guy was the lucky hunter. ‘Is it yours? ... Yours?’ they asked. It never occurred to them — not once —that it might be mine. So I set them straight.”
A girlfriend and Linda had loaded her gnarly 12-pointer, shot on opening day of Kansas’ 2007 rifle season, and hauled it 40 miles to enter it in the store’s big buck contest. Linda was pushing 60 that year, and the buck was bigger than anything she’d shot in the decade since she’d made the late leap from gatherer to hunter.
Deer season is a big deal for the family from Atchison, which is why nobody blinked when Linda announced she was ready to add her own stories to the mix of tales shared by the rest of the clan. A lifetime of hunting vicariously through her husband and sons had prepared her well.
She’s still the primary venison chef, despite the fact that she’s never gotten over the nightmare of having burned the first deer roast she ever tried to prepare for her then-new husband. One of her contributions to the family’s annual butchering day is chili. The men cut, and the women wrap.
Three of her sons are gaga over deer hunting, while a fourth is more smitten with turkeys. She likes shooting whitetails.
“When you’ve got four boys, you pretty much do what they do,” she said.
That means participating in the opening-day ritual of hunting, and then returning to her house to ogle deer or swap stories. She also likes the gentle ribbing, the competitiveness, the picture-taking and even the blood-trailing, when necessary.
Linda hunts her usual place with her husband’s .270 Winchester, its stock whittled down to fit her. Her sons built the stand for her about 10 years ago. The 4x8-foot box sits atop four telephone poles, 16 feet high, with windows on all sides. It has tin walls, a heater, and it overlooks one of the family’s Atchison County fields.
The day she shot her best buck, the one she entered at Cabela’s, Linda drove her truck into the nearby brush and walked to her stand. She was inside, sitting on her swiveling dove bucket by 6 a.m.
Two hours later, a couple of does popped out of the woods flanking the field, but they were skittish and didn’t hang around for long.
Linda had originally planned to hunt until 11-ish. But since she was comfortable, which isn’t always the case there in December, she decided to stay an extra hour.
Her hunt, however, was over before 11:00.
Around 10:30, a gorgeous buck sauntered out of the timber and into the bean field at an easy-breezy 150 yards. There were no aw-look-at-the-pretty-buck or oh-my-God-it’s-huge moments. As soon as it stopped and turned to look at something, Linda dropped it.
Rather than go to the downed deer, she drove back home, where she knew her sons would be. She needed help, and she didn’t want to wait and lose the buck to coyotes, which had once happened with a doe she shot.
Besides, it was a big one. She thought it was anyway.
“I told Jamie (one of her sons), ‘I don’t know if he’s as big as I think, but I hope so,’” she said, giving voice to one of the biggest understatements ever uttered.
—Photos Courtesy of Linda Funk
Hunter: Linda Funk This article was published in the July 2012 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
Official Score: 179 5/8
Composite Score: 198
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