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My First Shot!

Lyndsey Wesner

Michigan huntress earns date with vacuum sealer and taxidermist
By Lyndsey Wesner

Growing up as the daughter of a police officer, I was taught the importance of respect for guns. Dad wanted us to know just how dangerous guns could be and taught us by shooting and blowing up fruit at the firing range.

The joy of shooting and the outdoors continued at summer camp where I would shoot a .22 rifle, and later become involved with archery.

2011 was my first actual year hunting. My husband Rick is an avid hunter and fisherman. He decided to take me to the woods. He was pleasantly surprised I could handle firearms, and he taught me to shoot a muzzleloader. We went out, but it was a very slow season and we didn't even see anything.

Rick worked hard planting food plots, setting up trail cameras and finding the perfect tree for a two-man stand. We practiced archery skills in the back yard, and Rick taught me about a deer's vital area.

Finally, I was ready to get in the treestand with a bow.

The Michigan early doe season came and went without a shot being fired, but I gained valuable hunting experience. Naturally, we didn't see any does, but were able to hang out with several bucks that had no idea I was 20 feet above them with my compound bow and Scent-Lok suit with the pink trim.

My husband and I and thoroughly enjoyed watching deer in their natural habitat as they grazed without a care in the world.

My anticipation grew as early doe season ended. I eagerly waited for October to arrive when I could hunt bucks, too.

I took my hunting gear to work with me, and arrived at my spot around 5:30 p.m. I sat there until dusk, and the only thing that moved was a raccoon. I hunted by myself after work again on Wednesday, and slowly crept through the woods, trying to mimic the way my husband stalks.

Through the brush, I noticed two does standing directly beneath my stand. All three of us froze and it was a stare down.

Knowing I had no shot and couldn't stand there forever, I took one small step forward which prompted them to disappear into the dense forest.

There was a slight drizzle, so the normal sounds of stepping on dry leaves and branches were absent.

I climbed into my stand and got situated. It only took five minutes for a button buck to wander down the same path I'd just taken.

Having never even drawn back my bow on a real deer, I decided to make it my practice. The button buck was headed toward an opening where it would be broadside, so I drew my bow and made a braying noise so it would freeze. I fell silent again and it continued on.

I let down my bow and just watched it graze. It would stop and look to the south as if it heard something. The second time it looked southward, I looked too. That's when I first saw the 8-pointer.

My heart started pounding as the buck began walking on the exact same path that button buck took. I knew exactly where the clearing was where I could get a good shot since I'd just practiced the entire scenario.

As it neared the clearing, I drew my bow. My legs were trembling! As it stepped into the opening, I brayed, just like before. It stopped, and I released my arrow.

I saw my Lumenok light up and fly through the air as my arrow entered far forward in the buck's front shoulder. My heart began to sink.

As it turned to run, the arrow hit a tree and broke off. My first thought was sadness. I was so afraid I'd made a bad shot and the deer was going to travel far away and we wouldn't find it.

It's one thing to hunt for food, it is another to accidentally wound an animal just for it to rot somewhere in the forest.

Hunting Stories Wanted!I called Rick and let him know I had no idea if the shot was good or not. I waited 10 minutes, and then got down from my stand to see if there was any blood. There was!

Wanting to give the deer adequate time to lie down and die, I climbed back into my stand and waited for Rick. He arrived with our two girls and his friend Anthony, and the tracking began.

At first there was a little blood here and there, but then we found more. My oldest daughter found the front of my arrow, so we kept following the trail. The whole time I kept pleading with God that my shot was good enough and we'd find my buck. Then we did!

I did hit it far forward, as I had suspected, but its leg must have been positioned forward, allowing my arrow to sneak past his front shoulder and into the heart. My first shot was at 25 yards, and we found the deer only 50 yards away. I couldn't believe it!

I helped my husband field dress it, and then we drug it out to the car. Talk about buck fever!

That Friday night we processed it ourselves, and on Sunday I made a date with the vacuum sealer.

We took Sunday dinner to my parents with a feast of inner loins, backstrap and bacon burgers, sautéed mushrooms, roasted red potatoes and salad with homemade blue cheese dressing.

I was beaming! I later told Rick, it is one thing to go to work every day making money so you can provide food for your family, and something completely different to be hunting, tracking, processing and ultimately, preparing food.

My first shot gave me a sense of accomplishment and pride that nothing else can match. We will have my buck mounted as it is my first, and now I can't wait to get back out to the woods.

Thank you for taking time to share in my excitement!

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