By Sue Griffin
-- My father taught me to hunt and fish when I was really young, which cemented the bond between us. Being a girl was never an obstacle.
He passed away when I was 18, but he left me with a spirit of independence.
Twenty years later, I finally found a man who could fill the shoes of my earliest mentor. His felt you can do anything you set your mind to do, and he really loves to watch me attain the goals I set for myself.
He took me to Colorado for my first big game hunt the year we met. I shot a nice mule deer doe and became hopelessly hooked on deer hunting. We returned to Colorado the following year, and I shot a wonderful 5x5 muley.
After lots more hunting here in Michigan and in Colorado, I finally shot my first Michigan whitetail, a doe. To be honest, I thought this sport was easy.
Soon I got into archery, shooting in leagues. The first year was up and down for me, but I enjoyed practicing and competing immensely. When I mastered that, my thoughts turned to bowhunting.
In May 2008, I won a new Mathews bow during our archery banquet. With whitetails on my mind, I really put my all into practicing with it and learning to judge distance at the 3-D range. I’d decided I would never want to wound an animal and not find it. So I was flinging arrows every day from May until the Oct. 1 season opener.
I went to my stand on opening day with lots of advice from my boyfriend, Parry, who went to his own stand.
I saw mostly does and some small bucks. I even drew on one, but I let down after deciding it was too young.
My oldest son, Tim, joined Parry and me on Oct. 18. We were all in stands by 6:30, waiting for daylight and deer. Tim and I had walked into the woods together, splitting when we reached my stand.
“Good luck, Mom … Aim small,” he told me.
My son’s parting shot was a favorite line from a very dear friend who was in our archery league and a pro shooter. He was killed in a work-related accident in June 2007. It gave me goose bumps to hear Tim utter those words.
At 7:50, I had just finished a small cup of coffee and sat slowly back into my seat when a huge 8-pointer with a neck the size of my waist appeared. Everything everyone had taught me over the years was echoing in my mind. I slowly stood, got my bow and got ready. The buck never saw me.
As I turned cautiously to shoot, he was 20 yards from my stand. When he stopped walking, I shot. My heart was pounding so hard, I could hear it.
I thought I’d missed, at first. I watched him make a sharp turn into some downed branches and followed his progress until he stopped 60 yards from me and looked back at where the arrow had struck him. I truly thought my arrow must’ve hit a limb.
I immediately alerted Parry and Tim. We waited an hour before taking up the trail I so desperately hoped was there. While waiting for my son and boyfriend, I replayed that scene over and over, each time convinced that I hit the deer.
Parry found blood!
The 200-pound buck had gone down within 20 yards of where I’d last seen him.
The 17 6/8-inch wide rack tallies 113 3/8 – what an awesome first buck with my bow! I was so glad that Parry and Tim were able to share that moment with me.