By Wendy Jennings
-- My name is Wendy Jennings, and I wanted to tell you about my 19-point buck that I took in Putnam County, Fla.
It was opening morning of blackpowder season, Oct. 28, 2005. My husband
Chuck dropped me off at my treestand around 7 a.m., and then he left to go to his stand about four miles away.
After an hour in my stand, the wind picked up and the temperature started to drop. Two does and a nub buck came in under my stand, and a few minutes later, my two-way radio went off.
Chuck was concerned about my fear of heights and the fact that the wind was swaying the bay tree I was in. He asked if I wanted him to come get me, and
I gave a quick, "No," which he translated as "something is under my stand, stay off the radio."
I waited about 30 minutes, and as I was scanning the saplings in front of me, I saw a set of antlers through the gullberry bushes, coming right up the path to my stand.
I have a habit of standing to shoot from archery, so my first response was to stand and take aim before the deer spotted me. You just don't think too clearly when you see antlers. There wasn't a single part of me inside or out that wasn't shaking, and it wasn't from being cold.
I could not get it in the scope and I knew I was wasting time and in a matter of seconds the buck would be in the opening in front of my stand. I told myself hold still and let it walk into the crosshairs.
I never saw antlers, only a brown target and then squeezed the trigger. It was blackpowder, and I knew I would only have one chance before the animal would bolt. I never heard the shot or felt the recoil. As I lowered the rifle, I saw the buck fall, then get up and trot off.
I grabbed my radio and told Chuck to come get me, and that I had just shot a good 6- or 8-point buck. I don't get out of my stand without Chuck there because of my fear of heights, and my stand is 22 feet up, which is pretty high for me.
That was the longest 20 minutes of my life. I couldn't see the deer, and I knew this would be my first buck if it was a successful shot. When Chuck got to my stand, I climbed down and we went into the saplings and brush where I last saw the deer. Then Chuck heard it jump up and run.
We had a friend bring his dogs in to trail the deer, which was a short job because the buck only ran about 40 yards. With the dogs in front of us, I can remember Chuck and Allen hollering my name as I was running in what seemed like slow motion. I took one more step, and there it was in the clearing, sitting up, looking at us. I couldn't believe what was in front of me.
What I thought was a good 6- or 8-pointer turned out to be a 19-point buck.
I was so shaken up by antlers in the stand and concentrating on the shot that I never realized just how big its antlers really were.
Turns out that for our hunting club (free range), which was established more than 30-plus years ago, my buck is the largest ever harvested.
The following weekend back at camp, men, women and children had their fingernails painted bright red. They said if that was the secret to my success then they were willing to give it a try. That was truly a sight to see.
I still sit in that same stand, look down the trail over the gullberry bushes and wonder if lightening really could strike twice.
Greencove Springs, Fla.