The Unlikely Hunter

Women Discovering Whitetail Deer Hunting

In 2003 I was a 32 year old, newly divorced woman with a boyfriend who had a passion for whitetail deer hunting.  At that time, I was more likely to go shopping or get my hair and nails done with the girls than to subject myself to the “woods” with wild animals and bugs or the cold, sometimes rainy or snowy weather.

Boy was I wrong! All it took to get me hooked was one weekend “Up-North” during gun season. Early (and I mean early) on a Saturday morning, I got up, showered, put make-up on, did my hair and went out with Tony to his gun blind where I sat on the most uncomfortable bucket next to him in the corner of his blind. That’s where I watched nature come to life.

It was so beautiful – peaceful, yet so noisy from the animals waking up to feed. It was exciting and calming at the same time. Still trying to adjust to the new surroundings for me, I sat so still, looking around for deer movement. Not long after we sat down, I saw what looked like a huge giraffe walking through the woods coming our way. As she got closer, I just stared in amazement (shaking of course). She was so beautiful standing and feeding with her fawns. I sat for many hunts watching does and fawns walk through, stop to feed and sense our presence before I got the opportunity to watch Tony take a buck.

The following Spring I bought a bow and took a Hunters Safety Course. I was still very naive. I never realized that women and kids whitetail deer hunt too. After passing the class, I was ready to hunt, or so I thought. Now it was time to really prepare, more importantly, it was time to shop – for clothes, jackets, boots, hats, gloves and all the other deer hunting supplies that I had to have to hunt.

Being terrified of heights made it difficult to get into a tree stand, so Tony found a great pop-up blind with a floor and shoot through windows which I am still using today. He also let me use his permanent gun blind until we finally built one for me this summer. Both blinds were perfect. I was very comfortable sitting on a foam covered bucket in my pop-up and a foam covered chair in his gun blind. There was still plenty of room for my portable toilet (a must have!) and my heater (another must have, especially during gun!) – Now I was ready.

My first two bow seasons were very educational. I was able to really watch the deer patterns. Whitetail deer hunting is definitely trial and error and I made a lot of errors my first two seasons. More importantly, I learned from them. I even got the opportunity to shoot at a few does but I was too nervous and missed.

My first two gun seasons were no better. I went both years without even seeing a single deer. It was pretty disappointing, but just a part of hunting. Nobody ever said this was easy. It takes a little work, a lot of practice and the passion to go after the thrill of the chase.

Finally, my third season was more successful, but not without heartache … It was early one weekend morning close to the rut. Tony had been hunting an active scrape and rub not too far from me. Out of nowhere, I looked up and saw the biggest 8 point buck I’d ever seen standing directly 20 yards in front of me, staring right at me. Very carefully, I picked up my bow as he started to walk away. My heart was pounding so hard and my breathing was so heavy I couldn’t believe he didn’t blow and take off. I was able to get to full draw and stopped him by whistling, broadside, 20 yards from me with his head and most of his neck hidden behind a tree. He couldn’t see me – this was a no-brainer, right? I took a deep breath, put that pin right behind his shoulder and let it go. I heard it hit hard as he took off. I was sure it was a good hit until I calmed down, looked up and saw my arrow sticking out of the tree where he was standing, about a half an inch from where I was aiming. I blew it – by a ½ inch. I still see it clear as day and occasionally still beat myself up but I’m not giving up! I never saw that deer again but a week later, Tony had it walk into his spot but was unable to get a shot off before he was spooked away.

A week later, I was able to get a shot off and hit a “big doe”. It wasn’t until I tracked and found it that I realized it was a “small button buck”. Add that to the lessons I’ve learned. It’s not always easy to tell the size of a deer when they come in alone but it definitely taught me to slow down and observe closely before I decide to take a deer. Still, it was my first whitetail deer and I’ll never forget it!

Going into gun season I had decided to only shoot a decent sized buck, but expected very little since I’d never seen a deer during gun season. It was towards the end of the morning hunt, I was freezing since my heater ran out of gas and I was ready to go. About 10 minutes later, I saw a deer in the distance, not following the “normal path”. I sat and watched as he turned and started walking toward my gun blind. He was an adult deer and as a bonus, had antlers. I picked up my gun, took the safety off and watched in disbelief as he stopped, broadside, 10 yards in front of my window never even looking at me. I was able to somehow get the gun in position and find him in my scope. It was a perfect shot as he ran and dropped about 15 yards away. That was it for me – I was done for the year and I know not to ever expect this kind of year again.

I’m here to say “thanks” to Tony for opening my eyes and getting me involved in something so exciting and rewarding. Three years of whitetail deer hunting with him and his family have taught me a lot, but I have a lifetime of hunting techniques and secrets to learn and I’m looking forward to every minute I can spend in the woods! I still get up before the crack of dawn, but now my shower comes after the hunt, my hair gets put back into a headband and my make-up has been replaced by camouflage make-up, but I wouldn’t change a thing!

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