Had 14-year-old Sabrina Nisly’s tennis practice not been canceled because of the rain on Sept. 13, 2012, she might have ended her first-ever deer season with a big fat “love.”
But rain it did. And because her father, Joe, decided a few raindrops never hurt anybody, Sabrina wound up winning the world cup of deer hunting.
Sabrina, a student at Haven High School in Partridge, Kan., and the oldest of four Nisly children, begged for two years for her father to take her deer hunting, but he didn’t listen until 2012. As soon as he saw the .243 in the sporting goods store, he decided it was time.
The Sunflower State’s youth season opened on a Saturday, Sept. 8. They went out that weekend, had no luck, and then the girl’s after-school commitments — she’s a multi-talented athlete — kept her out of the woods on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday would’ve been out of the question, too, if it hadn’t been raining.
About 5 p.m. that day, father and daughter went to a quarter-section of land where they’d erected an 18-foot-tall double ladder stand in August. The stand leans against a straight elm beside a creek that splits 160 acres of CRP.
The 75-yard-wide strip of trees is a main travel corridor for deer filtering out of the CRP to the neighbor’s bean field across the road and to the south.
Joe dropped Sabrina off on the road, at the creek, so she could walk to the stand while he drove on to the corner of the property to park well away from the crossing. He then walked in and joined her.
The rain lessened to a drizzle, and it stopped altogether about 6:30. They’d seen nothing to that point, but spotted a couple of does wafting through the trees not long afterward.
About 7:30, Joe saw a nice 8-pointer at 200 yards, pointed it out, and then told his daughter to get ready.
“I was thinking, Okay, this is the PERFECT deer for Sabrina,” he said.
When Sabrina turned to look and raise her rifle, she spotted a second and much larger buck about 30 yards behind the 4x4. A screen of trees prevented any kind of shot until the deer was to Sabrina’s left. She had to twist hard 90 degrees to aim, while both bucks were still moving.
Not satisfied, the girl eventually stood to aim, but the deer never slowed. They were actually circling the Nislys’ setup.
By the time Sabrina could actually acquire the big buck in her sights, it was to their right. She’d done an almost complete 360 before taking the broadside shot at the deer only 25 yards distant.
Joe didn’t see the buck’s reaction. His eyes had been closed, and he’d had his hands over his ears, since Sabrina’s rifle barrel was about 45 degrees from his face. When he did look up, he saw a buck running away and thought she’d missed.
So caught up in the desire for his daughter to take her first buck, his mind immediately shifted back to the 8-pointer, and he wanted her to shoot it.
It wasn’t until Sabrina nudged him and pointed that he realized the big deer was still out there, and it had stopped only 40 yards from them. A tree was blocking its vitals, however.
“I could feel Dad shaking,” she said. “I was shaking, too.
“When the deer turned and began walking away, I told myself to count to three before squeezing the trigger,” she continued. She did just that, and the deer fled after the shot.
Both of the bucks ran in the same direction, but one veered off, its white tail waving goodbye.
“I’d planned to wait awhile before getting down, but I just couldn’t do it,” Joe said. “I had to know … We had to know.”
The buck had managed to run only 60 yards before collapsing.
– Photos Courtesy Joe Nisly
Hunter: Sabrina Nisly
BTR Score: 191 3/8”
This article was published in the September 2013 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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