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Late Night, Early Morning

By Kelsea King

-- Like your average 17-year-old girl, I was out late, and I didn't get home until somewhere around 1 a.m. It was the beginning of Nov. 2007, and I had to be up three hours later for the second day of rifle season. I hit the sack for a short rest. Four o'clock rolled around, and I awoke to my dad, Ron, shaking my shoulder. The only thing running through my mind at that point was five more minutes!

This was my first year to go hunting, so I didn't quite know what to expect. Eventually, I hopped out of bed, donned my hunting gear and was ready to go. We started walking through the field and headed toward our two-person stand that waited for us at the edge of the woods. It was dark and very cold. I practically sleep-walked my way to the stand.

We made it to the stand and got settled in. Dad made fun of me, and asked if I was certain I could make a shot if we saw a deer. I told him he must be joking, and that there was no way I would miss. On the inside, I wasn't so sure of myself. I had heard about buck fever and thought if being tired didn't make me miss that trophy buck, I knew that the fever would do the trick.

We waited for hours on end. I began to think that all the deer were still sleeping in their comfortable, warm beds. Then a deer appeared in the distance. It was a doe but was too far away. I thought this was a good sign that the deer were finally moving around.

Another hour passed (which seemed like a year) as we played the waiting game. My head felt like a ton of bricks that I just couldn't hold up any longer. I began to doze off, and my head rocked back and forth in desperate need of a comfortable pillow.

I could hear my dad snickering beside me. I look over to see him smiling, which made me smile. He put his arm around me and told me I could lay my head against his arm if I wanted to. So I did. I will never forget the next thing that he said to me.

"I'm so glad that you are starting to like hunting," he whispered. "This is the coolest thing ever to have my daughter next to me in the stand."

I looked up at him, smiling from ear to ear, and whispered back, "Me, too!"

Twenty minutes has gone by and I heard something in the distance. I lifted my head and listened quietly. I could hear the leaves crunch as the sound made it closer and closer to our stand. I looked to the left, and at the edge of the field, I noticed an 8-point buck walking toward our stand.

My heart beat faster as the buck walked closer and closer. I bumped my dad in the side and pointed to the buck. He sat straight up and told me to get ready. I immediately understand what it was like to have buck fever. I didn't want to let that get in the way, so I tried to stay cool, calm and collected. My dad shook with anticipation. I started to think he had buck fever, and he wasn't even holding a gun!

Eventually, the buck walked right in front of us. I put the buck's right shoulder blade in the rifle sights and waited. My dad's breathing was labored as he whispered instructions to me. He was so excited for me that he would not have noticed a mosquito biting him on his nose. The deer heard our commotion and spotted us in the treestand. Not a second later, I took the shot. As the deer ran off into the woods, I couldn't help but to grin. I glanced over at dad, and he wore one that stretched from ear to ear.

We waited for an hour before climbing out of the stand to track the buck. I looked at my dad before getting down and told him that even if we did not find the buck it was the coolest thing I've ever done and that I will go deer hunting many more times.

We walked toward a tree line, and I looked down a hill that goes deep into the woods. "I SEE HIM!" I shouted. We walked faster and faster until I reached the buck. We both could not stop smiling. It was the best moment of my life!

A year has passed since I harvested that buck. Hunting and the outdoors have become a big part of my life. This year I put down the rifle and started shooting a bow. I've practiced all summer and plan on bowhunting with my dad this fall. I just hope I don't get buck fever!

Kelsea King
Mt. Vernon, Indiana

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