By Mike Handley
For the third time since its inception in 1996, a woman will be awarded Buckmasters' prestigious Golden Laurel Citation.
In one of the tightest races in 16 years, one that included new state records in Arkansas and Louisiana, a world record by recurve and an Illinois buck that was the largest felled in 2011, Audrey Sharp's 24-pointer from Posey County, Ind., was deemed the most significant entry into "Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records" this past season.
Audrey's buck is a new rifle record for Indiana. It's also the second-largest whitetail bagged by a woman at any time, by any means, anywhere in North America. The largest (253 5/8 inches) was taken in Kansas by Jamie Remmers back in 1997, the first by a huntress to garner the Golden Laurel.
There was a moment, however, when Audrey's father, Tim, wondered if his daughter had lost her mind. The deer was standing just 20 yards away from the treestand they shared, while Audrey fiddled with the red dot scope atop her .44 Mag rifle.
They hadn't been aloft for long on opening day of the firearms season, when Audrey heard something and nudged her dad just after sunrise. Tim was the first to actually see the deer.
"I lifted my scope's flaps and turned it on, but the dot was too bright," she said. "While I was adjusting it, Dad kept whispering, ‘Shoot it, Audrey, shoot it!'"
It wasn't that Audrey doubted the scope's zero. She'd shot a few rounds through the gun the previous day, just to be sure. She simply didn't want to make a bad shot.
"I was trying to stay calm, but my heart was pounding through my chest," she continued. "I raised my rifle again, settled the red dot on the kill zone, took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger."
The heart-shot buck mule-kicked and took off running through the brush.
"I wanted to get down right then and go find my deer," she said. "I'd had opportunities in the past to shoot many does, but that was my first buck. My husband, Jerry, has always preached: ‘Get the deer for the meat, not just for the thrill of the kill.'
"I was plenty thrilled. All I wanted to do was go find my buck and do a happy dance, but Dad kept telling me to be quiet in case there were other hunters in the area," she added.
When they did get down, Tim spotted a brown-and-white lump about 60 yards distant, but they had to get closer to see that it was the downed whitetail.
"I looked at the buck and couldn't believe my eyes. It was huge!" Audrey said.
The full story will appear in RACK magazine in August. The deer will be displayed during the Aug. 17-19 Buckmasters Expo in Montgomery, Ala.