By Angie Neal
Mom always wanted a daughter. She wanted a little girl who would dress in cute dresses and be a girlie girl — you know, the type all moms dream of. Instead, she got me.
I always wanted to play with trucks, oer baseball, football, basketball or any other boy things that my big brother, Eric, was doing at the time. He complained when his friends were around, but he and I played pretty well together. I was a pain in his you know what sometimes, but all in all, he would tolerate me and teach me things. Mom would still try to insist that I be a girlie girl and leave my brother alone.
When I finally grew up, I did and still do try to keep my hair nice and makeup and nails done, but I would rather be doing anything but the girlie girl stuff.
The one thing Eric and I have in common to this day is hunting. I didn’t really start getting into it until about two years ago. I would listen to my brother’s hunting stories but could never understand it until my boyfriend, Al, took me on my first hunt.
My first experience was a big disappointment. It wasn’t because I didn’t get to experience anything, but that everything went completely wrong.
It was muzzleloader deer season. I got to the tree stand around 3 o’clock and was comfortable being on my own. Al wasn’t far from me in another tree stand.
My stand overlooked a food plot. There was a creek to the left and plenty of woods around.
I didn’t own a gun, but Al let me borrow one of his. He spent plenty of time prior to the season making sure I was comfortable loading and shooting it alone. He was more patient teaching me then I could have ever dreamed.
After I had been in the stand about an hour or so, I was getting bored and irritated at the chattering of all the squirrels, especially the one right over the top of my head. I was almost to the point of shooting him!
Just as I was about to give up and climb down, movement to the left of the food plot caught my eye. My heart began to race. I took out my binoculars to get a better look. I could see what appeared to be a deer’s rack moving behind the brush and coming toward the food plot.
When the buck rounded the edge of the brush and stepped into the opening, my heart skipped a beat. He was a nice, large 8-pointer. My heart began to race, and my breathing got kind of heavy. I was so nervous that I began shaking from head to toe.
My muzzleloader was loaded, so all I had to do was put the cap on, aim and pull the trigger. I carefully pulled a cap out. As I was putting it onto the gun, my hands were shaking so badly that I dropped it. It went down the tree stand, clanging the metal as it went.
I froze. The buck looked toward me. I feared he was going to bolt. I sat quietly, hoping that he would go back to grazing. Thankfully, he did.
I got the second cap in and slowly laid the barrel on the gun rest. I leaned in and lined up the buck in the scope crosshairs. It felt like my heart was going to pound right out of my chest. I took in a deep breath, held it and pulled the trigger.
Can you believe it? The cap popped. The buck ran, and I missed a great trophy.
I didn’t see any bucks worth shooting from that stand the rest of the season. They were either too young or too far away. So, I had a disappointing first year. However, I decided to be prepared for the next year. My boyfriend took me out and bought me a CVA Wolf rifle. I practiced a lot with it and made sure that it was sighted in. Again, my boyfriend has been great with helping me learn about hunting.
Last year was much better. During muzzleloader season, I saw a few nice bucks from a different spot, but never could get within range to shoot .During the season, Eric took Al and me hunting on some property he leases. Now, since I had my own muzzleloader, I was ready. I had been practice shooting with it until I was comfortable. It was a nice afternoon, but once the sun started setting, it was a little on the chilly side.
My brother put me in a nice tower stand. There were big open fields in front of me, a deer feeder to my right and a creek behind me. It was toward the end of the rut. After I had gotten situated in the stand, I was looking around with the binoculars. I could see a few bucks chasing does, but it was way too far to get a shot.
Just as the sun began to go down behind the tree line to my far right, two does came out. I was looking into the sun, so it was hard to see them clearly. They moved into the field, nibbling grass and making their way toward the deer feeder.
I noticed they kept looking back into the woods where they had come out. I had always been told to watch for that type of behavior as a sign that something else might be trailing behind them. As the sun dipped down behind the trees a little more, I saw a buck come out after them. I looked through the scope, and he seemed to be a large-bodied deer with a nice rack. I thought he was a large 4-pointer.
My heart began to pound, and I was shaking all over again, just like my first attempt last year to shoot a buck. I waited and watched as he chased the doe around and they moved in closer to me. I raised my gun and used my deer call to try to stop him. It worked! He stopped. I looked again through the scope, lined up and fired. After the smoke cleared I noticed he hadn’t budged! He just stood there!
I was just staring at him. He was still standing perfectly still. All of a sudden, my phone buzzed. It was on vibrate. Eric was calling me.
“Was that you?” he asked, sounding excited for me.
“Yes. But I missed,” I replied in a whisper.
“Did he run?” He asked.
“No, he is still standing here, he is nibbling grass again,” I replied.
Eric yelled, “You big dummy! Why are you talking to me! Hang up, reload and shoot again!”
I lay the phone on the floor, fumbled around for another sabot, reloaded my gun, raised it and put the crosshairs on his shoulder one more time. I took a deep breath and fired.
BINGO! He was hit. He began running. He ran right toward the deer stand and fell 5 feet from it. I could look out the left side window and see him. I called Eric and Al to tell them I had one down.
Soon they were on their way to help retrieve my very first buck. Eric told me to stay in the stand until they arrived, but I was already on the ground by the time they got there. I couldn’t wait. I wanted to see my deer!
As I approached him, I got really excited. He didn’t have four points but seven!
I didn’t much like the cleaning and gutting part, but I loved everything else. I realized the best part of my hunting experience was being able to spend quality time with the ones I love.
As the new season is approaching, I am getting ready. I really want to try bowhunting this season. Hopefully, I can get a better buck this year.
So, for all you moms and dads who are hoping for the girlie girl daughters, my advice to you is don’t let them go hunting, because once they do, you may lose them to the woods and the adrenaline rush that hunting gives!