Headlights. My very first Buck.

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I may lose you on this one. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. I have to write this story because it’s hunting season and I can’t stop (won’t stop) thinking about RealTree Ap and food plots. 

You know that I love to bake  bread, and sew. You know I love all things pregnancy, birth, cloth diapers, and babies. What you may not know is that I hunt whitetail deer. Now before you get all Peta on me, just hear me out. 

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If there is one thing I’ve learned from gardening, raising chickens, following Christ and hunting, it’s that something must die, so that I may live. It’s no small thing and I do not take it lightly. None of us do. Hunting isn’t just about a trophy on the wall. It’s about watching the sun rise from a tree stand tucked within the timber. It’s about slowing down, being still, and quiet enough to hear God’s voice. It’s about making memories with family. It’s about leaving a legacy. It’s about the pure adrenaline and weight of reality as you center on your target. You’re truly alive. You’re in the moment. It’s a big deal. 

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My family has 3 farms in Pike county Illinois totaling about 450 acres. My Dad bought them after a long conversation with Lloyd Frey about family, legacy, and property value. “Land will always have value, nobody is making more.” It took me a while to finally get there. My brother was going to go from our college, so I hopped in the Jeep and took the trip to surprise my dad. We have a big red pole barn on the Vin Fiz with a construction trailer that we sleep in tucked inside.  It was so much more than hunting. It was about family and nature, it was about soul searching, and watching the world wake up over a dewy meadow. I was hooked. 

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I got my bow that summer and fell in love with a whole new side of deer hunting. It doesn’t stop when you leave the woods. Some of my favorite memories about hunting are from lining up with my brother, dad and husband and all trying to shoot a dollar bill pinned to the Glendel
. It’s challenging, it’s fun, and it gives us something to do outside to enjoy a beautiful day. 

I love this picture. Pregnant with Lila and practicing at the lake.

I love this picture. Pregnant with Lila and practicing at the lake.

Well, I have hunted for years. Years. I went pregnant with Lila, I went when Lila was two months old and dealt with nursing and pumping and even cloth diapering at the farm. I put so much time in and I mostly got skunked. Sometimes, I didn’t even see deer. 

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Then, I went again, last season. Jordan’s parent’s watched Lila for us and we made the trip down. I was 5 months pregnant with Daniel at the time. I went early freezing mornings, while it was still dark, and saw nothing. Late in the crisp night, nothing. I read all of The Hunger Games, and enjoyed the beauty of stillness in the woods, but they were too still. I wanted to see some movement. On the last night of the weekend, I was defeated. I tried to shoot at a doe at last light the night before but my primer was a dud and I felt like I wasted my whole weekend sitting with a water pistol in the freezing cold. I went to the blind that night with a little bit of sour attitude. Whatever. Just stick me in Cove 2 (we name our spots) and I’ll serve my time-out there. Wah wah waaaah. We all had our group text going and I found out Jordan got a doe! I was pretty excited for him. We really wanted the meat. Then, soon, I returned to my wallowing. I texted Jordan individually and told him that I can’t keep doing this. It’s a huge sacrifice for me to come hunting. Jordan’s family has to watch Lila, and they totally love it, but she is a lot of work and they run their own business so they are already busy. Then, I come and freeze my “Royal  Rastafarian nay-nays off” and come home empty handed. He told me to hold tight. There was still shooting light yet and I may get lucky. 

I held out some hope. I prayed. It’s another perk of being in the woods. You just talk to God more. I waited and kept my eyes peeled. Then, I saw them. A doe and a Buck came out from the corn and stood at the edge of the food plot. I was frozen. I really only planned on taking a doe. We have really strict shooting standards and don’t take bucks unless it’s a mature monster or  for herd management, but this buck looked pretty good for my first buck…. I was torn. The deer were just standing there, so I snapped a picture and sent it out asking for feedback, and this is what happened next. 

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When I got the go ahead from my Dad, I took about 10 minutes to steady myself, breath, aim, and….nothing. I left the safety on.

 

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I was shooting a Traditions Vorteck 50 calliber Muzzleloader

Smooth Darla. I looked up, afraid I was going to miss my chance but he was standing broadside like….a deer…in headlights. When shooting a muzzleloader, you pretty much only get one shot. I aimed again for another 10 minutes (slightly exaggerating but that’s what it felt like) released the safety and put my crosshairs just behind the shoulders to try to get a nice, clean, ethical shot. Deep breath. Prayer.

Genesis 27:3 “Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow and go out to the field and hunt game for me.” 

Trigger finger. I was in shock. I blanked. When the smoke cleared and I snapped out of it, I saw him run for the forrest and begin to loose his footing right at the field edge. My ears were ringing and I didn’t hear him crash. I had no choice but to wait until dark to see if I got him. 

The guys heard my shot from their spots on the farm and quickly responded. 

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{I WAS FREAKING OUT} 

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Did I really just do that? Is he big enough? Did I get him? Is he injured? Will we find him? I have to pee. Where is my Dad? Brothers? Husband? I can’t believe this is happening. I have to see him. I have to see him. I hope we find him. This is so worth the wait. 

I didn’t want to spook him, so I waited patiently for my Dad and brother. I love surprises so I didn’t dare go peak to look for him without them. This is the stuff of life. This is what hunting is all about. It’s about your family. Your team. We search together. We celebrate together. When they came I was shaking like a leaf. We hugged and high-fived and took a second to soak in our surroundings. We were living in a moment. This is going to be a memory we’ll have forever and we all knew it. We walked to where I shot him and started to look for blood. 

Nothing. 

My stomach started to drop. What if I missed him and this is all for nothing? I called them over to where I swear I saw him start to stumble. No blood. None. I grabbed the flashlight, just let me look into the woods. He has to be here. 

And he was. He was peaceful and posed. Waiting for me.    

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I went up to him, and I whispered, “I see you brother, and I thank you.” 

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It was a profound moment. My Dad and brother came to take pictures and then we prayed thanking God for his creation and provision. Then we loaded him up on the bad boy and went back to get Jordan’s doe and went back to camp. 

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I’ve relived this day over and over again in my head. It was so memorable for me to go and get my first buck with my family there. I’m so thankful for the experience. 

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Now, we have a new season on our hands. I’m going out on friday, Oct. 31 for one day. Jordan is coming with to watch the baby and I’m going out to take my chances. There is a cold front coming in, I’ll be in a spot that hasn’t been touched all season and I’m going to sit on a beautiful food plot. Everything is set up, I just need a big guy to walk by and steady myself as I draw back.  

Hopefully, I’ll get my first deer with a bow and I’ll come back with another story for you. 

 

 

 

 

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