Tennessee girl, lover of deer burgers, shoots a whitetail that’ll wind up on more than a plate.
Brad Bentz and his 11-year-old daughter, Brooke, teamed up with friends Calvin Blevins and his daughter, McKenzie, to participate in Kentucky’s youth-only deer hunt Oct. 10-11. They drove up from Maryville, Tennessee, the night before the hunt.
The men had put out eight trail cameras on their 144-acre lease in Christian County in June, which yielded photographs of an amazing buck with lots of points. The western Kentucky farm has wonderful deer habitat with a 55-to-45, timber-to-crop ratio.
Except for a power line that runs through the area, the rest of the land is relatively flat. Calvin shot a nice 160-inch buck the first year (2014), and Brad and Calvin’s daughter each bagged does.
As soon as Brad and Calvin returned home from retrieving the first set of trail cam photos, Brooke was eager to see what kind of bucks were roaming the farm. The one with all the points had stepped in front of the camera on July 11.
Its rack was massive, and points grew in every direction.
They nicknamed it Santa Claus because, according to Brooke, he had so many points you could hang all your Christmas ornaments on his rack.
Brooke started deer hunting when she was 8 years old. By age 11, she had already hunted in three different states and taken four deer, two of them small bucks. She shot them all while accompanied by her grandfather, Mick Bentz.
“I really wanted to shoot a deer with my dad along,” she said.
During her first three years of deer hunting, Brooke had an apprentice hunting license. In September, she passed her hunter education course, so 2015 was a milestone in her young hunting career.
“I enjoy hunting because I like to hear nature (sounds) and be near it and be in the woods,” Brooke said. “And I like venison hamburgers.”
Brooke and her good friend McKenzie (Mac) were looking forward to the October hunting trip to try to score some Kentucky venison.
“Mac and I were busy with school and softball and couldn’t go up on any of the early scouting trips,” Brooke said. However, the photos their dads brought back really stoked the girls’ interest.
By the time the fathers and daughters arrived in Kentucky, Santa Claus had mugged for all eight trail cams.
“The four of us drove up on Friday and got a motel in Hopkinsville,” Brad said. “We found one that had a pool to make it fun for the girls. We had several options for places to hunt on the property, including double ladder stands and a shooting box. The weather forecast looked good with temperatures in the 50s.”
“I just had a couple of donuts for breakfast,” Brooke said. “We went to the shooting house by a hay field the first morning. Mac and her father were in a two-person stand about 150 yards away. They were watching the power line.”
About 10:15 or 10:30, Brooke and her dad heard Mac shoot (the adults weren’t hunting). After sending a text, they learned she’d shot a spike, so they went to get the UTV to help with retrieval. After loading the deer, they took it to a processor.
It was about 4:00 when Brooke and her dad went out for the afternoon hunt. That time, they chose a ladder stand overlooking a bean field.
Around 5 p.m., a little buck came out into the field about 130 yards distant.
“I was going to shoot it, but it wouldn’t turn broadside,” Brooke said. “It fed for two or three minutes, and then walked away.”
The buck never offered the girl a clean shot, and day one came to a close.
It was colder on Sunday morning, and the foursome decided to sit together in the shooting house. Mac was trying to fill her doe tag. After it got daylight, they saw a couple of dogs running all over the place.
“That pretty much messed up the morning hunt,” Brad said. “We went back to the motel, ate lunch, and then took a nap.”
The hunters decided to split up for the afternoon sit. Calvin dropped Brad and Brooke off at a spot close to one of the ladder stands about 4 p.m.
“We were just easing along the edge of the field, talking and trying not to get hot,” Brooke remembered.
They arrived at the stand, climbed up, and clipped their safety belts in place.
“I checked the time, and it was 4:18,” Brad said. “I asked Brooke if she was ready. She said, ‘Yes,’ and I unzipped the cover of the blind.”
“We had some corn out, and I was supposed to be watching it, but I wasn’t,” Brooke said. “All of a sudden, a buck walked out of the woods into the bean field. I looked out across the field, and I could see its head sticking up above the beans.
“I knew it was Santa Claus. He was standing in the beans about 100 yards away,” she said.
Brad told her to breathe normally and to relax.
She raised her gun, put the crosshairs on the big buck, and squeezed the trigger. The deer ran toward the startled hunters and collapsed before a second shot was necessary.
“My heart was just quivering,” Brooke admitted.
That was understandable, considering she had just shot a 30-point giant that is sure to be one of the top five deer taken in Kentucky in 2015. Brad was apparently a little shaken up, too, because his attempts to text Calvin and tell him what happened all failed.
He finally gave up trying to punch in the message and just called to share the news.
Hunter: Brooke Bentz
BTR Score: 223 4/8
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This article was published in the June 2016 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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