Hunting traditions run deep in the Marshall family, where even the ladies are mentors.
By Austin Marshall
I had left school early to get to my hunting spot at the right time.
I traveled to a field on our family farm in Carroll County, Ohio, and put a hang-on stand in an old tree where my Great Aunt Kay used to hunt. She passed on a few years ago, but I'll always remember her for her love of hunting.
After hanging the stand, I went down and had lunch with my grandfather. Shortly afterward, I headed out with my shotgun for an evening hunting vigil.
I had been sitting for about three hours when it started to wind down to the final few minutes of daylight - that time of day when every hunter expects to see a big buck step out of the shadows.
Sure enough, I looked up and a for-sure shooter was suddenly standing there!
Using my dad's single-shot, smooth-bore 12 gauge, I took a steady bead on the buck's vital area and pulled the trigger.
It took off with its tail tucked, indicating it was hit hard, but I had no idea if the shot hit true in the vitals.
After I got down, I found a little blood, but I decided to wait until morning to continue the search with a little help.
At daybreak, I decided to take the gun Aunt Kay had left me when she passed.
My father, Mark, and Uncle Tom joined me to look for sign. It didn't take long for us to find a good blood trail, which we followed until it suddenly disappeared.
I told Dad, "I bet he's laid up under those pines."
Sure enough, when I walked over to get a better look in the pine thicket, there was my buck, lying underneath some limbs.
I yelled for my partners to join me and then poked the buck just to make sure it had expired. Imagine my shock when it blinked! I quickly fired a finishing shot.
I couldn't help but feel as if Aunt Kay was there with me, helping me get that deer. I later found out I'd taken it the day after her birthday.