By Holly Sidebottom
Josh Sidebottom took this 11-point Illinois buck during a honeymoon trip with his wife, Holly, in Brown County, Ill.
-- My husband Josh and I married Oct. 18, 2008. As outdoor enthusiasts and bowhunting fanatics, we planned the honeymoon of our dreams to Brown County, Ill. We prepared vigorously for our trip, often putting wedding plans on the backburner. Finally, we headed to Illinois with that nervous excitement that every hunter knows.
After an 11-hour sit on the first day of our hunt, Josh connected on the deer of a lifetime - a 167-inch, 11-point buck! Our love of bowhunting moved up a few levels after he had the privilege of harvesting a buck of this caliber.
While Josh enjoyed the rest of our honeymoon in the lodge, basking in the joy of his amazing accomplishment, I set out with hopes of following in my husband's footsteps.
By the end of the week, poor circumstances and a bit of bad luck left me devastated and on my way home to New York without an Illinois white-tailed buck of my own. Although I could not have been more proud of my husband, it was difficult to mask the despair of my own defeat.
We traveled back to New York, knowing that there was still work to be done. The morning after our return, we headed out to our local hunting spot, an 800-acre farm where we had not seen much activity or sign in the past.
Holly Sidebottom redeemed herself when she harvested this 9-point buck from a local hunting spot on the last day of New York's bow season.
On the last day of New York's bow season, my opportunity for redemption stepped out of the thicket - a 148-inch, 9-point buck! I rubbed my eyes in disbelief due to the fact that I had only seen small bucks and does on the property. My heart was pounding out of my chest; I knew I had to make it happen. Then, right on cue, the buck stepped broadside, 10 yards away.
I got my buck of a lifetime just in time. As a hunter who has been in the woods my entire life, I have never experienced so many highs and lows in one season. We could not have asked for two better wedding gifts.
Holly and Josh Sidebottom
Lockport, New York