Kelly’s Story – Nocked and Hooked

Ever since I was a little girl I have always been obsessed with nature and exploring the great outdoors.   There was just always something inside me that was sparked by watching butterflies flit from flower to flower, or listening to the different songs birds sing, or even so simply as studying squirrels gather their food for the oncoming winter.   I was always in awe of it.  When I was a kid, if you wanted to find me all you had to do was walk down the road through the neighbor’s pasture, to the little patch of timber down by the creek.  I’d be busy making maps of my little forest and would give different areas and trees their own individual “names.”  I grew up eating fried mushrooms, deer steaks, squirrel, and fried rabbit as my dad was an avid hunter and my mom was an amazing cook.    Nature has always been a passion for me and a place I feel most at home.

By the fall of 2009, I had lost both parents and was basically “orphaned” at the age of 45.   The passing of my mother hit me terribly hard and it was in that life altering event that I began to question whether or not I would be able to provide for my family, if times got tough enough, to have to go out and kill something.    Would I be able to shoot something?  What would I do after I killed it?  How would I gut it and skin it?      Heck, I didn’t even really know how to load a gun, let alone shoot it.   Although my children were grown and were living their own lives, these questions weighed heavy on my heart.  It was then God sent me an angel, the love of my life, my very own hunting mentor…and he bought me a bow.

From the very first time I buckled my release, nocked my arrow and drew back, I was hooked.  There is nothing, in my opinion, more rewarding than bow hunting.   My hunting experiences began with a rifle in 2010, where I shot my first spike,  but my passion is hands down bow hunting.   There is just something more challenging and traditional about hunting with a bow and arrow.   Over the last five years I have shot and killed several does, a spike, even this past fall a wild hog.  However, the deer I am most proud of is my first “mature” buck that I harvested this year during fall bow season…my 8 pointer.

That morning is still very vivid in my mind.   The rut had just started and that particular morning, here in southwestern Missouri, was colder than it had been in the weeks past.   Although I’ve only been hunting for 5 years, I have already acquired quite a hunting wardrobe and I was struggling between Under Armour Early Season or Scent-Lok Late Season.  This might not seem like a big decision for some but for me I have a hard time pulling my bow back when I’ve got bulky clothes on so I was not really wanting to wear the heavy fleece.  However, with the cold temps…heavy fleece it was.

I always believe that early is better and waking up early to prepare for your hunt is key.   I normally get up at five o’clock so I can have my coffee and relax a little and think about what I need to take with me out to the stand.    That morning was no different.  I had my fanny pack filled a grunt call, doe bleat, rangefinder, and release.   I sprayed down my clothes with scent free spray and my drag rag was saturated with doe estrus.  I was ready to head to the stand.     At about 6:15 I was in the stand, sitting in the dark, just listening and waiting for all the little critters to wake up.  I always find it very peaceful in the stand.  There’s just something about watching the darkness disappear as the first light takes over because for me it’s a little unnerving to walk out to your stand in the pitch black.    As I sat there for what seemed like a very long time listening to the quiet sounds as well as watching my breath in front of my face, all of a sudden out of nowhere I heard the loudest, noisiest CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH coming from down the draw behind me headed straight up to my stand with the sound of purpose and intent.  My first thought was someone was trespassing on my property.  What I found when the  heavy footsteps stopped and I looked down was an 8 point beauty strutting right out in front of me about 20 yards.   I quietly stood up and positioned myself to draw back.   With a racing heart, I calmly pulled back and put my 20 yard pin right on his vitals and “meh’d” at him to stop and turn and THWACK…I shot.    He ran off.  Although I know you’re supposed to stay in your stand for at least an hour or two to give the deer time to lay down and die, I was anxious and impatient and got down early and ended up pushing the deer farther than I needed to.   That one mistake was costly.   I shot the deer at about 7:30 a.m. and by 2:30 p.m. we were still following blood without finding my buck.  Long story short we didn’t end up finding him until the next morning a very long way from where he was shot, down by the lake’s edge and the coyotes had been feasting on him all night.    We dragged the buck back to the house and I tagged him but that moment was bittersweet for me.  We all worked hard tracking him but in the end all we had was a rack and no meat.  I take pride in putting meat in the freezer for all of us and I fell short with my first “mature” harvest.

The advice I would like my fellow huntresses to take away from my story is to appreciate the journey of hunting first.  It’s about gaining more knowledge each season over the prior season and constantly growing in your experience.   I think it’s important to learn new things every year that you can apply in order to grow as a hunter.     If I could give three tips that I feel are most important I would say safety has to be number one because you won’t be able to hunt if you get injured.  Secondly, live by the philosophy to fill your freezer first.  Big bucks aren’t the most important.  Feeding your family is.  And last but not least…when you hit your target…WAIT!  Be patient and sit.  Pushing your deer could cost you all the hard work you’ve put in.

 

 


Mar 21, 2016 | Category: Blog, Deer hunting, Fan Photos | Comments: none

 

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