By Sheri Mueller
Sheri Mueller of Wadesville, Ind., was seven months pregnant when she climbed into her stand on opening day of the '05 firearms season. "Smoking" a giant buck was not detrimental to her health! Photo by: Adam Mueller
WARNING: Smoking big bucks during pregnancy can result in a taxidermy bill.
If I had listened to my friends and family who said I would not be able to hunt while seven months pregnant, I wouldn't have taken the fabulous buck I shot on Nov. 12, 2005. But rather than listen to the naysayers, I forged ahead and followed my heart.
I'm so glad I did!
I woke up early on the opening day of Indiana's gun season. In short order, I was carrying my .50-caliber muzzleloader and pack full of hunting supplies to my stand. Soon after I'd climbed into position, a nice 8-point buck walked within 20 yards. Since my husband, Adam, and I had agreed not to shoot anything we wouldn't want to have mounted, I decided to let the buck grow for a few more years.
About an hour later, after seeing a few more small bucks and some does, I got hungry. I had not eaten breakfast.
Just when I opened a PowerBar and started to take a bite, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye and looked up to see a doe trotting straight toward me.
Sheri's hunting partner, Jade Briley Mueller, can claim to be a successful hunter before being born. When mom made the shot, baby became so excited that she got the hiccups! Photo by: Adam Mueller
I didn't think much about it, at first. I had been seeing deer all morning. But then I remembered that the rut was beginning. So I looked back where the doe had come from to see if she was being followed.
Much to my surprise, there was indeed a buck back there. I didn't have much time to think about what was happening. I just got my gun ready in case it was big enough to shoot.
The buck was heading straight to me. To slow it down or stop it, I grunted with my mouth. It stopped and grunted back!
The buck then resumed walking, but it stopped long enough for me to get a 15-yard shot. Once the smoke dissipated, which seemed to take forever, I saw my buck hit the ground in the middle of the field.
I was ecstatic, and so was my unborn baby girl. She got the hiccups shortly after the shot.
Wanting to share the excitement with others, I called my dad and lifelong hunting mentor, Don Koester, and told him, "I just shot the biggest deer I have ever seen!"
Dad, knowing how much hunters are prone to exaggerate, calmly asked, "How big is it?"
"BIG!" I replied.
Soon afterward, Dad and another hunting buddy joined me. Only then did I get out of the stand to look at my trophy up close. I wanted to wait for Dad because he has been there with me since I started hunting at age 8, 20 years ago.
Dad was shocked, even before we reached the deer. The weeds in the field were up past our knees, but we still could see the rack rising above them.
They loaded up my buck in the back of a six-wheeler and headed downhill toward our hunting camp. Along the way, we passed Adam, who was hunting.
When my husband saw the rack dangling from the back of the ATV, he decided there was no way he could continue hunting.
Before we made it back, we were also joined by another hunting buddy who could not stay in the stand. He had seen the same buck a few minutes before I shot it.
Shortly after we reached camp, the neighboring hunters came over to see what all the hoopla was about. During the picture-taking, someone noticed that the buck's left ear had been pierced by a broadhead. That's when one of the neighbors confessed that he'd taken a shot at a 150-class deer the previous season, but he'd missed his target. Now he knows where his arrow hit.
A lot of people have asked me if I've lost interest in deer hunting, since it will be hard to top this buck. Not a chance!
Getting this deer hasn't spoiled me. I think it has made me even more appreciative of the whole experience. Now if I could just take another one like this with my bow!
Adam says that I'm a deer magnet. So maybe it'll happen.
We're calling my deer the "Paradise Buck," a tribute to the hunting camp we've come to regard as paradise.
Editor's Note: The Muellers are selling replicas of the "Paradise Buck." For more information, e-mail Sheri at SAJ3LOVE@yahoo.com.
Hunter: Sheri Mueller
Official Score: 179 5/8"
Composite Score: 201 5/8"
-- Reprinted from the October 2006 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine