By Noelle Feltenberger
Picture a 10-point, 220-pound buck being harvested by a girl half its weight. That girl is me, at 103 pounds and 5 feet, 4 inches tall.
This story begins in college when “a girl” was needed for the archery team. I’d never shot a compound bow before, and I wasn’t interested in hunting. But when asked to shoot for the team for fun, I thought, What the heck? The team provided me with my first bow, a Darton. I shot for a few years, then graduated from college and became a dental hygienist.
In the fall of 2000, I began to hunt with my boyfriend, Travis, who took the sport very seriously. I learned the basics of hunting, but, because I loved animals, I couldn’t picture myself shooting one. Still, I was finding relaxation and enjoyment in nature.
A year later, I was hunting on my own. Travis would often walk me to my stand and put his climber a few trees down from my lock-on stand. I didn’t practice as much as I should have, and Travis would tell me, “You’re going to be upset if you miss just because you didn’t practice.”
Well, I guess I had to find out the hard way – on a 150-inch 10-pointer that I missed in Pike County, Ill.
After getting used to a lock-on stand, I decided to purchase a climber. I found a perfect lightweight model. Then I got a new bow. I was so excited knowing that now I was ready to hunt. My first deer was a button buck.
On Nov. 8, 2003, a day I’ll never forget, I bagged my second deer. Around 2:30 p.m., I was considering going hunting that evening. Travis told me to go to his lock-on stand; he had seen the buck of a lifetime there the previous week. I didn’t really like the stand because I rarely saw anything there. When I did, the deer was too far away to shoot.
I finally decided to battle the wind and cold, so I got dressed and headed down the road. I parked my Jeep at the edge of the field, grabbed my backpack and bow, threw on my hat and headed to the woods.
At exactly 4 p.m., I was ready in my climbing stand, but I didn’t think I would see anything. It was very windy. I grabbed my grunt tube and made three loud grunts.
A few moments later, I heard a loud crash behind me to my left. I slowly turned to see a huge rack coming my way. The buck was about 50 yards out and closing fast. My heart began to pound, and my knees began to shake. I had to get myself together before it saw me, so I quickly stood up and got into position. Things were happening so fast that I didn’t have time to think.
The wind was not in my favor, but the buck walked right under my stand and had no idea I was there. It was 10 yards from the stand when it stopped for a quick munch and quartered away from me. I drew, aimed behind the left shoulder and ... whack! My 75-grain broadhead hammered the buck. It was a perfect shot. I watched until it disappeared about 80 yards distant.
Only 30 seconds had lapsed from the time I saw the buck until I shot him. Afterward, I stood there shaking and in shock. It was just like the hunting videos; I was yelling and had a grin from ear to ear. I had only been on the stand for 13 minutes. After several tries to Travis and his brother, Chad, I finally reached Travis’s dad on my cell phone. He offered to meet me at the edge of the field.
I descended the tree and followed the blood trail, marking the last spot of blood with an arrow. Travis and Chad, after joining us, decided it would be best to wait a few hours before tracking. Around 8 p.m., with our friend Tom in tow, we headed back to the woods.
We began tracking with our flashlights and lanterns, and at first we didn’t find much blood. It seemed possible that we wouldn’t find the deer. But our hopes rose when we found tracks. Suddenly, Travis yelled for me to come to him. I said to Chad, “I bet they found him lying up there.”
And there he was, lying close to the last place I’d seen him. We couldn’t believe how big this deer was. People go out West to shoot something like the deer I harvested in York, Pa. We took about 80 pictures that night, and Tom even videotaped after we got the buck onto the field.
I can’t take all the credit. The guys had to drag him out of the woods (I couldn’t budge him). I never imagined I would harvest a buck this big. His Pope and Young score was 143 5/8.
Sometimes all it takes is to be at the right place at the right time. That buck had only one thing on his mind – a female – and that’s exactly what he got.
This article was published in the August 2004 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.