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Antlers Are Great...

Amanda Higginbotham

But Indiana girl says you can't eat 'em!

By Amanda Higginbotham

We awoke early one morning, excited to begin our first hunt of the year near Franklin, Indiana.

As my dad and I drove to our property, we made a plan. If I didn't get a deer in the morning or early afternoon, we'd go get lunch and then go back and stay until it got dark.

About an hour passed and we finally made it to the barn cabin.

Dad and I made sure we had all we needed and began to walk to the treestand. Once we got there, I climbed up in the dark and got comfortable, preparing to be there for a while.

My dad whispered, "Good luck!" and we touched knuckles. Then he left to go find somewhere to sit.

As the sun came up, squirrels were playing mind games; tricking me into thinking I heard a deer rustling in the leaves. 

About 15 minutes after daylight, Dad grunted, just to let the deer know we were there.

More time passed and we didn't see anything besides birds and those annoying little squirrels.

Amanda HigginbothamAround 8:30, Dad decided to rattle, just to try something different that might catch a deer's attention.

About 20 minutes after that, I looked to my left and saw a huge rack walking right toward me!

I immediately looked down at my dad, who was about 10 yards away, and tried to get his attention.

The buck stepped behind a tree, but my dad still had no clue this was happening, so I stood up, aimed and shot. Dad jumped up and saw the deer just standing there beside a tree. I shot again, missing that time.

We heard it crashing into things, so we thought we were hearing it go down.

My dad went straight to the last place the deer was and found blood. Then he asked where the deer was the first time I shot. He found a lot more blood there.

The whole time I was still up in the tree, shaking like crazy and nagging at my dad to let me get down. 

He finally agreed, and I was ready to go find my deer, but dad insisted on waiting at least 30 more minutes. That was the longest half hour of my life!

Finally, we started to blood trail and immediately found good blood until it reached a grassy field. In the field we found one small drop of blood, but then it was like the deer just vanished!

We marked the last blood with an orange hat and searched in every direction, hoping to spot blood.

After nearly two hours passed, I began to tell myself I didn't get the buck. I was ready to give up, but my dad thought about it for a minute and decided to line himself up in a straight line with the last blood and just walk straight.

Hunting Stories Wanted!Amazingly, he found one more tiny drop of blood.

I went to the edge of the woods, aligning myself with my dad and found even more blood. Now I was beginning to have some hope again.

I went around the woods to walk a path while Dad continued to follow the blood into the woods.

I remember hearing him say, "Blood . . . more blood. Here's even more blood."  I was very anxious at that point.

Dad though he saw a big rock in the path of the blood trail, but when he looked closer, he realized it was not a rock; it was antlers.

He shouted, "We got him, Amanda!"

I raced down the hill to where he was and sat on the deer's back.

I told Dad I knew I'd made a good shot, and that's why it was so confusing to me when we weren't finding it.

We noticed the bullet never left the deer's body, so it was bleeding on the inside. That's why the blood trail faded out.

I can honestly say I was the luckiest and happiest 16-year-old girl that moment!  I learned killing a deer is never promised, and just because you shoot at one doesn't always mean you'll go home with it.

Yes, it was nice to finally have a nice set of antlers to show off, but you can't eat them. To me, the meat is the best and biggest trophy there is.

That feeling you get when you see a deer coming makes everything worthwhile!

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