By Susan Aleksa
-- My husband was a big deer hunter before we were married. In fact, the day I met him, he had just returned from a hunt in Colorado. Since that time, I have learned a lot about deer hunting. He also taught our two sons to hunt.
After listening to all their strategies, I began to think that I could do this. So in the summer of 2005, when I was 60 years old, I told him, "I want to deer hunt with you this year."
He thought I was kidding, but asked if I wanted to target practice. I said sure, and we practiced several different times. He even bought me a gun, but still thought I wouldn't go through with it. I wasn't good at shooting those targets, and he just knew I'd never hit a deer.
Opening day arrived and I was ready. I didn't go on the morning hunt, but when the afternoon arrived, I went out with him. I told him I didn't want to be up in a treestand; I might fall and break something. I picked where I wanted to sit. I know he thought I was crazy, but he was humoring me.
I went to my spot and sat down. I was sitting against a little knoll, with my feet against a large tree in front of me. I had on blue jeans, an orange sweatshirt, and hat with a net over my face. There I sat. I kept thinking - they say to shoot him right behind the shoulder.
I hadn't been there long when I heard something. I peaked around the tree to the left - nothing; to the right - a doe. I whispered to her to call her boyfriend. She kept looking back up the hill she'd come down. I assumed she was waiting for a fawn. She went back a few yards, then came out again a couple times.
Each time I'd say to her, "Tell your boyfriend to come on." Something, probably God, said to look on the left. I looked to the left of the tree and there stood a buck. My heart started pounding so hard and so fast. I told myself to stay calm and remember what I'd heard for years. I rested my elbow on my knee, took the safety off, aimed and pulled the trigger. The buck jumped and took off.
Then I prayed that I had either killed or missed the buck. I didn't want know that I had merely injured the buck and not be able to find it. My son had once said wait 15 or 20 minutes before you move. I waited 15 minutes when excitement took over. I got up to find the deer.
I looked for blood but didn't see any signs. Then I noticed that a doe was standing 25 yards from me and watching my every move. Finally, I found some blood and kept walking. Before too long, I found the buck. It was a forkhorn, but I felt like I'd killed a trophy. This was my first hunt, and I had my buck.
I kept wondering why my husband hadn't come to check on me. Eventually, he came. He said, "What did you shoot for?" I showed him the deer. He was dumbfounded! He said you were only there 15 minutes.
Of course I was teasing, but I just had to say, "I just don't know what takes you guys so long." He didn't seem to think that was at all funny.
You know what was most frustrating? I've listened to the same hunting stories over and over, but my husband didn't even let me give him all the blow by blow details. I wanted to show him how much I'd learned from all their stories and knew to wait 15 minutes. Nope, he wasn't impressed. I guess I made it look too easy, but he really is a great teacher. Not to be bragging, but that deer was the best we've ever eaten.
I got the hunting fever so bad, I've turkey hunted for two years now and shot a gobbler both years. This year my gobbler weighed 26 pounds and had a 10-inch beard. Now I'm dreaming about a big elk hunt. But I'd have to take my husband and son to witness the hunt.