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Maiden Hunt

RyanBy Brenda Ryan

-- 2008 was my first year to go hunting. I accompanied my father during the early doe season in southern Iowa. Actually, that represented two firsts: my maiden hunt and my father's first time to take his 43-year-old daughter afield with him.

Dad was very happy and anxious to get started. We made a habit of getting up before sunrise to go to some of my father's favorite areas. The weather was chilly, but not damp, so walking was quite pleasant. I was dressed in my husband's army gear and the proper orange.

There were many deer moving about after daybreak on our second outing. My father took me to an excellent field where deer were plentiful. But they knew we were close and weren't having any of it -- moving about constantly.

At one point, I was skirting the tree line, while Dad was easing along a distant road. Suddenly, I heard a rustling in the nearby woodlot. A young buck and five does burst out of the trees to my right, spotted me and halted abruptly a mere 60-70 feet away.

I was so nervous! There was my chance, and I was all by myself.

I was carrying my father's 20 gauge loaded with deer slugs. I brought it to my shoulder and fired at the closest doe. I was so afraid I was going to miss, but the doe dropped immediately. I pumped a fresh round into the chamber and took a second shot at another feeling doe, but I missed.

I was in a daze as I walked over to my first deer to make sure I hadn't been dreaming.

Whoopee! There she was ... my first deer! My shot had taken the doe in the neck and dropped her where she stood. I was so excited about it that I got out my cell phone and called my father, who was still walking along on the road. I then dialed my husband to give him the good news.

RyanI guess I was pretty excited because my husband had me stop talking and repeat myself because he couldn't understand me the first time.

My father and husband were pleased with my shot. It was wonderful to see the smiles on their faces. It wasn't just the large doe that pleased Dad. She was also the first deer taken that season.

My father wouldn't stop talking about the deer his daughter got on her first hunt for several days afterward. What really made this special was that my father and I were separated when I was 6 years old. We weren't reunited until I was 33.

We never got to do the things that most other fathers and daughters do. Missing are memories of special occasions. But this event helps to bridge the gap of time lost, and I doubt either of us will forget it.

--Brenda Ryan

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