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The Hunt Less Planned

ChastainBy Brittany Chastain

-- I started hunting at age 15. My dad would ask me the night before if I would like to get up and go deer hunting with him. Being a Daddy's girl, I took any opportunity to have his full attention.

I always carried my little backpack full of items sure to attract any deer. We left early enough to eat breakfast at a little café near the property. When the fellows figured out which stand everyone was sitting in, they made sure I was in the best stand on the property.

Well, that "best" stand was definitely up for debate. I sat countless weekends with my dad, hoping for the opportunity to take my first deer. Four years and many mosquito bites later, I finally shot my first deer, a doe.

I'd have to wait another four years for my first buck.

There were many events that led up to the afternoon I harvested my first buck. After eight years of hunting, I never thought I would accomplish that on a day when going to sit in the stand was a spur-of- the-moment decision.

The big moment happened on Saturday, Oct. 25, opening day of muzzleloader season. I hadn't had much experience with a blackpowder rifle, but I couldn't wait to get my hands on a weapon that would allow me to shoot a deer at a greater (than bow) distance.

Before I get to the details of the minutes leading up to my first buck, let me expand on the events that occurred prior to my getting in the stand. These events lead me to believe that I was in place on purpose.

The day before, I spent countless hours in the hospital waiting room with my family, anxiously anticipating the arrival of my sister's first child and my parents' first grandchild. My handsome nephew made his debut into the world that evening, and we were ecstatic!

As I made my way home that evening, I was exhausted and decided that instead of hunting the next morning, I would catch up on sleep and then make my way back over to the hospital to visit with my new nephew. I spent the midday hours snuggling and smooching him, not even thinking about hunting that afternoon. My husband, Andy, and I were supposed to have company for dinner that night. Getting in the stand was just not an option.

I got home around 3 p.m. and decided to clean house before company arrived. Around 4:45, I received a message on my voicemail from our guests asking for a rain check because she was not feeling well.

I promptly changed clothes, grabbed the muzzleloader and headed out to my box blind in the middle of a 4-acre pea patch. I really wasn't expecting to see anything. I hadn't used any scent eliminator (shame on me), but there wasn't time to do much more than go. I was in place by 5:30. At least I didn't forget my calls.

I decided to use my bleat can and grunt call about every 20 minutes or so to see if I could attract a buck. An hour and a half later, just before dark, I turned to grab a drink of water from my backpack. When I turned back around in my chair, a 6-pointer was standing about 20 yards away from the blind.

I reached behind me, grabbed the gun and placed it on the window ledge. I took aim right behind the shoulder and pulled the trigger.

I'd totally forgotten just how much that gun kicked, but I was quickly reminded when it planted me up against the back of my chair. I didn't know if I'd actually hit the deer or not, but I quickly called my husband and brother. They were hunting doves together about 30 minutes away.

I wanted them home immediately to help me look for the deer.

My wise husband instructed me to go out and mark the spot where the deer had been standing. When I got out there, I peered into a little patch of trees and saw the buck lying on the ground no more than 20 yards away. I got him!

In the eight years leading up to that day, it had always been, “I got HER!"

This time, there were antlers. WOO-HOO!

I made my way toward the deer, marveled at him and went directly into my celebratory I-got-a-buck dance (soon to be a hit on "So You Think You Can Dance").

After the jig, I went to the house to wait for my husband and brother. Once the deer was out and ready to be cleaned, I received the long awaited ritual of "being blooded.” I was so proud. When I told my mom later about the ritual, she said "Yuck," to which I jokingly replied, "Are you kidding? I could have taken a bath in it!"

NOTE: Photo is of her first doe with a bow 

--Brittany Chastain 

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