posted on August 17, 2014 09:06
By Mike Handley
Last deer season, Heather Artist scheduled a 10-day vacation to coincide with the opening of Missouri's rifle season on Nov. 16. No longer in college (she graduated the previous May), she was determined not to miss a day of hunting.
The night before the opener, she and her two sisters arrived at their parents' house and set their alarm clocks for 4:45. It was still dark when the trio left for the woods.
Heather's sisters shared a stand, while she went by herself to another. It was unusually hot and humid, the wind was strong, and it began raining after sunrise.
After being busted by a couple of does and seeing only one small buck in the distance, her eyelids began drooping. Before they shut altogether, she happened to glance up and see an enormous buck standing in a depression about 80 yards from her.
For maybe the first time in Heather's deer hunting career, she didn't get buck fever. There wasn't time.
Within 30 seconds of spotting the deer, she was settling the crosshairs behind its shoulder. It was so windy that her sisters never heard the crack of her rifle.
When Heather called to tell them what had happened, they didn't believe her at first. But all doubts were erased when they joined her later and saw the magnificent animal for themselves.
Since their father was working that day, their mother joined in the recovery, loading and skinning of the deer.
Heather had shot it in the heart.
"When my dad got home from work, we all met him at the door like little kids on Christmas," she said. "We couldn't wait to see his reaction."
Heather's story will appear in Rack magazine this fall, in her own words. The rack has a BTR composite score of 196 2/8 inches.