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Deer Friends

Sheena Lauren, left, and Jade Estola
Good friends Sheena Lauren, left, and Jade Estola, proudly hold Jade's first buck taken during Wisconsin's 2008 deer season.
By Beth Lauren

-- It was -8 degrees on the opening day of Wisconsin's 2008 rifle season, when I awoke to the whispered sounds and occasional giggles of two very excited hunters, my daughter, Sheena, and her dear friend, Jade.

My husband and son were staying at the camp with the rest of their group while we women stayed home and toughed it out alone.

Seeing that it was only 4:30 a.m. and not having to get up for work for another hour, I lingered in the warmth of my bed enjoying the girls' hushed tones and praying for their safety as well as the other hunters.

This was Jade's first year hunting deer. Her brother and brother-in-law were using the only two stands sufficient on her family's property. Sheena didn't hesitate at all before she invited Jade to hunt with her. My husband was more than happy to allow them to hunt from one of the many spots he, my son, and other family members prepared for the season.

With two thermoses filled with coffee, along with pretzels, milk duds, and ham sandwiches they left the comforts of home and headed out into the cold early morning darkness. They drove about two miles from home, with arms full and somewhat fearing the shadows, they broke into a run to their stand a quarter-mile away.

The homemade, permanent stand, named "The Tower" stands 22 feet above ground and overlooks 40 acres of farm fields with wooded edges. A trap door on the floor allows access to the fully enclosed stand with four double-hung windows, allowing for a 360-degree view.

The Tower was previously used as a bow stand. Sheena sat on a chair while Jade sat on the floor. A propane heater kept them somewhat comfortable for nearly two hours.

The girls drank their coffee and snacked on their crunchy pretzels. Sheena closed her eyes and rested in the chair while Jade listened to her iPod. With freezing fingers and numbing toes, the girls decided they would give it one more hour before they went home.

Finally, the girls spotted some action. Right in front of them were two white weasels romping around the field. For 15 minutes they entertained the girls, which helped to pass the time. Too cold to care anymore, the girls talked without whispering and started eating the ham sandwiches, then quickly tossed them.

"Here comes a deer!" Jade said shockingly. "Oh my, it's a buck!" Sheena nervously handed Jade her .243 rifle and after bumping the gun on the wall, the antlered deer looked right at them.

Like frozen statues the girls waited until the deer looked down. Sheena whispered, "Shoot it, Shoot it!"

With Jade in position and the deer in the scope, she shot her first deer. Shaking afterward, Jade thanked God and said, "That was from the Lord."

The deer ran away, seemingly unfazed.

Sheena radioed her dad on the walkie-talkie, which also alerted her Uncle Irv who was hunting nearby. Not nearly as cold, the girls waited for Uncle Irv to arrive then climbed down and followed Irv and a bloodless trail with only the deer tracks leading to the edge of the field.

Spotting her buck, Jade excitedly shouted, "Oh my, there it is. I got it! I got it!" She proudly tagged her first deer, an 8-point buck. Definitely a wallhanger, according to her excited family. It was the biggest deer anyone of them had ever shot.

Sheena's brother helped dress the deer. Uncle Irv took a few pictures, printed them, and brought them to the camp that evening. No one else besides Jade took a buck.

Jade thanked everyone many times, even buying gifts for Uncle Irv and Sheena's brother. There's nothing quite like being with a friend when you bag your first deer. When you're girls, it makes the experience even sweeter.

Beth Lauren
Gurney, Wisconsin

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