Rack Magazine

Beyond Blessed

Beyond Blessed

By Jenna Gregg

Jenna Gregg’s first-buck story will be hard to top, in print and on screen.

I grew up around hunting with my parents and their friends, but I never really got into it until I started dating Floyd, now my husband, who suffers from OCDHD — obsessive-compulsive deer hunting disorder.

Floyd pulled me into the fold during our high school years, though my time seemed always limited. After graduating, I went straight on to college and pharmacy school. And it wasn’t until last year— late in the season — that I found myself with time to spare.

Going into the 2013 season, my goal was to shoot my first buck. In addition to being a hunter and taxidermist, Floyd is co-owner of an up-and-coming TV show called “Licensed to Kill Outdoors,” so I wanted to shoot a buck for TV (I’d already shot a doe).

I tried bowhunting in high school, but I sold my bow after missing three bucks. Thus, it would have to be by gun.

And So It Began

I quit hunting for about five days during the week of finals, but I resumed the day after all the tests were taken. To that point, Floyd and I had spent all our time on one side of the farm, where the bucks would come out well past dusk.

When muzzleloader season arrived, we went to a place we’d been saving for that time of year; nobody had hunted there to that point. We had to have a straight north wind to do it, and one finally blew in, after dumping a fresh layer of snow.

We knew this property held at least one really big buck. It had been seen twice in 2012. Its rack was taller then, but it didn’t have as many points. In 2013, someone got footage of it during bow season from 150 yards.

On the afternoon of Dec. 14, we started the long walk back to the far corner of the field. With 8 inches of snow on the ground, the going was tough and exhausting. Each time we took a break from walking, my husband assured me that it would be worth it.

“You never know what is going to walk out back here,” he said.

We found the perfect tree around 3:30 p.m. and settled in beside it. My husband got all of the camera equipment set up, and I got my shooting stick and gun ready to go.

We were enjoying the beautiful snowscape when, about 4:30, I looked over and saw two does in the field about 100 yards distant. As soon as I pointed them out to Floyd, I noticed at least two more deer just inside the woods.

After a few minutes, I noticed a fifth deer even farther inside the tree line, too far for us to really tell much about it.

Eventually, a small 8-pointer and another doe joined the others in the bean field. I could still see one deer well back in the woods, but I hadn’t mentioned it to Floyd.

Beyond BlessedWhen my husband asked if I wanted to shoot the small 8-pointer, I told him I first wanted to see what the other one was.

Meanwhile, one of the does in the field began acting spooky, like she might’ve seen us. She never did blow, but she stomped her foot. The entire time she was acting that way, the one deep in the woods remained back there.

Floyd and I were convinced our hunt was finished. We had both frozen like statues, hoping the doe would calm down and resume feeding, and she finally obliged. That’s when the deer in the woods came to the edge of the field.

Floyd was looking at it through binoculars (I’d forgotten to bring mine), trying to determine if he was seeing antlers or tree limbs. Even without optics, I could tell the buck was PLENTY big enough for me!

“He’s definitely a shooter … the biggest deer I’ve ever seen," Floyd finally said. He then started shaking so badly that he could no longer glass the deer. He was too nervous and kept hitting his face with the binoculars.

I asked him twice, “You’re going to let me shoot him?” And his response, both times, was “Of course!”

The buck began skirting the field, keeping inside the tree line, and I thought for sure there was no way a buck like that was going to step into the open while it was still daylight.

Even the smaller bucks on the other side of the farm would never come out before dusk, and it was only 4:45.

The antsy, foot-stomping doe was still out there, feeding in the field and getting closer. Fortunately for us, she didn’t go berserk again.

Beyond BlessedThe buck walked down to the corner of the field, and Floyd lost it in the viewfinder for a few seconds.

Nevertheless, I positioned my shooting stick and raised my gun.

A couple of minutes later, the buck walked right out into the field. I tried to avoid looking at its rack.

My husband informed me he had the buck on camera and it was okay to shoot whenever I felt comfortable. I was acquiring the deer in my scope when Floyd noticed I hadn’t pulled back my muzzleloader’s hammer.

I tried my best to remain calm, but I was shaking, too. I took one last, deep breath and slowly tightened my trigger finger. I have a history of jerking the gun up when pulling the trigger, so I was very cautious to not do that.

The deer was at 85 yards when the trigger broke, and it kicked after the shot and ran back into the woods, along with all the rest of the deer.

I felt pretty good about the shot, but I don't think Floyd really thought I could’ve hit that deer. He has always had confidence in my shooting, but those weren't ordinary circumstances.

I wanted to go look for the deer and blood immediately, but Floyd talked me into waiting for his dad to get there so we could film the recovery as it unfolded. So Floyd called his dad and told him what I’d shot.

He did not believe us, at first, but he finally agreed to join us and bring the four-wheeler.

It took everything I had not to run out there and begin looking for my deer. But I knew the filmed recovery would be better if we waited. Even so, I did talk Floyd into at least looking for blood where the buck was standing. We saw it coloring the snow from 20 feet!

There was so much, we had no doubt the deer was dead. Floyd even began tearing up because he knew it would be a simple matter of walking into the woods.

It seemed like we waited forever for my father-in-law to arrive.

About 15 yards into the search, which didn’t even require connecting dots, Floyd pulled up his binoculars. I knew instantly he was looking at my buck.

I handed the gun to him and took off running through the woods. It was dreamlike.

I’m thrilled to have been able to experience this with my husband and mentor. I am beyond blessed to have even seen this animal on the hoof, let alone harvest it as my first buck.

Hunter: Jenna Gregg
BTR Score: 226 1/8

– Photos by Brittany Buchanan Photography

This article was published in the November 2014 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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