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Velvet Surprise

Velvet Surprise

When Mama’s ready to go to the hunting club, you’d better strap on your boots!

By David M. Cole

I wasn’t a white-tailed deer hunter until I met Donna Shuman at Georgia Southern University. The first time I traveled to her hometown to meet her family, I was instructed to go to their hunting club. I arrived just after dark, just in time to see my future wife dragging a nice buck under a fence.

After we were married, I became an avid deer hunter. Over the next three decades of our life together, we hunted together many seasons. Raising a family cut into Donna’s hunting time, so in 2013 I had a chance to join a club. It was a small club that, unfortunately, did not allow a guest or family to hunt until very late in the season. Donna was disappointed when I told her about the rule that would hinder her ability to hunt with me.

However, she went with me several times to scout and learn the terrain of this new hunting area just because she loves being out in nature. When another membership opened up, we snapped it up for her.

Getting ready for the early gun season, which is Aug. 15 in South Carolina, can be very hard because of the heat, bugs and very large snakes. Only dedicated hunters are really ready opening day. Donna had scouted and found some sheds. She picked her stand location and worked to clear shooting lanes during the heat to allow the area to settle down before the season started.

Opening day arrived, and when I got home from work at 4:30 p.m., Donna was dressed and ready to go. I reminded her it didn’t get dark until almost 8:30, and it was still very hot outside. She told me I could drive separately if I wasn’t ready to go. As we drove, we discussed the club’s rules covering the size of deer you could harvest — minimum of a 15-inch spread — and how you could determine this before you shoot.

We arrived at the clubhouse and signed in, and Donna left quickly for her stand. As evening approached I heard a gunshot from the direction of her stand, but I stayed put until after dark before I started walking back to the club house. As I walked, I called to see if she had made that shot I heard, and if she needed help.

She answered her phone about the same time she and our son James found her deer in the bushes. That’s when she became incoherent. I mean, completely! I couldn’t understand what she was saying at all. But I did hear “Wow! Amazing! Monster! Can you believe that?” and much more.

When I arrived, I was stunned to see a 201-pound, massive 9-pointer in full velvet. It was like nothing we had ever seen, much less harvested, in South Carolina. It was a great start to the 2013 hunting season in South Carolina for the entire Cole family. I hope every family enjoys this season by hunting together and sharing the American hunting tradition for generations to come.

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