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Off of the Sidelines

Donna Lambeth

Non-hunter gets into the game after learning hunter's role

By Donna Lambeth

I readily admit, I grew up in a non-hunting family and had always considered myself an animal lover. I would've never considered trying hunting until I met my future husband, outdoor writer Mike Lambeth.

Mike is an avid bowhunter, and I enjoyed watching him shoot on several occasions. He took the time to explain his hobby to me in a way that actually made sense.

We married soon after we met, and Mike suggested I take up archery since the activity was a good way to relieve stress.

He bought me a bow, helped me dial in my sight, and after a few shots I became proficient at hitting a bulls eye from 20 yards away. Shooting our bows together became a daily habit.

Mike explained to me why he enjoyed hunting and carefully explained the merits of wildlife management. Soon, I understood that God had placed certain animals like whitetails on this earth for mankind to use for food and to be stewards over.

I learned one of the best ways we can ensure animals like white-tailed deer will flourish is to have controlled hunting.

One day I decided to get off the sidelines and get into the game. I told Mike I wanted to go hunting with him. Admittedly, one of my main reasons for trying hunting was to spend more quality time with my husband.

Our trips were usually successful, and I was able to take several bucks and does with both rifle and muzzleloader.

My best blackpowder buck scored nearly 170 inches! However, taking a deer with a bow had eluded me.

We received permission to hunt on a suburban acreage that held good numbers of deer. Best of all, the spot was only 15 minutes from our home in Edmond, OK.

Mike and I set up two ladder stands and two game feeders. We placed a game camera near each feeder and we soon had lots of deer photos.

Last year my ladder stand gave me a front row seat to plenty of action every time I sat in it. I had deer very close to my stand, but I couldn't stand up to shoot without being seen by wary whitetails.

Donna LambethAfter the Oklahoma winds blew all the leaves off my tree, I really became easy for deer to see. That's when I decided I needed to try bowhunting from a ground blind.

In the fall of 2013, after seeing some decent bucks on our game cameras, we decided to set up a pop-up blind near our food plot.

We backed up the blind into a cedar and cut limbs from another cedar to brush it in. We knew the deer would likely enter the food plot through a pinch point and would come by within 15 yards. I anxiously awaited my first time to hunt from my blind.

When my husband returned from a media archery hunt, plans were formed for my hunt, and two days later, the wind was perfect.

I got off work at 3:30 p.m. and hurried home to change into my camouflage. Mike and I snuck into the ground blind around 4:30 with high hopes.

The evening was peaceful, and soon two mature does walked onto the field to begin nibbling the tender green wheat. Four doe yearlings and a spike buck soon joined them.

Seconds later, Mike placed his hand on my knee and whispered. “There's your buck.”

Standing 18 yards away was the 9-point buck we had designated as the number one buck on my hit list!

Instantly, my heart began to race and Mike reassured me that I could easily make the shot.

I drew my bow, took careful aim and grimaced as my arrow flew directly over the buck's back!

The deer ran about 20 yards and stopped just inside the woods, unsure of what had just transpired. Meanwhile, my illuminated nock shone brightly atop my arrow sticking up from the ground. I was so upset!

I asked Mike what I did wrong. He told me not to worry about it and to quickly nock another arrow.

I thought I'd blown my chance, but my husband assured me the buck would eventually return to the food plot.

The other deer slowly came back out and resumed eating while my buck cautiously watched from 60 yards away.

In horror, I watched as the buck began to walk off. But then it made a sudden U-turn and made its way back to where the other deer were now feeding.

Mike reassured me I could make the shot and soon ranged the buck at 20 yards.

Once again, I pulled back my bowstring as the buck cautiously fed nearby, occasionally lifting its head as if it knew something was up.

I released an arrow and saw my G5 Montec broadhead strike the buck in the front shoulder.

It whirled and the glowing nock, along with my deer, ran out of sight.

Hunting Stories Wanted!After waiting until almost dark, Mike and I went to look for my buck. We found good blood, but with darkness upon us, Mike felt like we should back out and come back the next day.

After a sleepless night, I got up and went to work knowing that Mike was going out to look for my buck.

At 9 a.m., his younger brother Ronny joined Mike, and they found my buck not far from where we abandoned the search.

Mike texted a photo of the buck to me and it made my day! The 9-pointer was beautiful and my shot had been perfect.

That evening after work, Mike took me out to a good place to photograph me with my buck. Weeks later, I'm still wearing that same goofy smile.

I can't wait to go deer hunting again, especially now that I've been educated about my role in proper management and harvesting surplus does. Admittedly, taking a buck with a bow is one of my proudest achievements.

Now my husband and I are inseparable hunting partners and have already shared great adventures together. I'm truly grateful Mike introduced me to archery and hunting, and I encourage all women to give archery a chance. Maybe you will take your first deer, too!

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