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An Epic Outcome
Probably the most exciting thing in my life was in October of 2009. It began in August of 2009, when I was 12 years old, I took the local hunters safety course with my mom and twin sister, Lydia. I scored 100 percent on both the written and field tests, and, when I graduated the course, I received a free buck tag for the hunting season of 2009. My dad decided to take my sister and I hunting on our families property in Ashland, Wisconsin for the junior hunt. The hunt was over October 10th and 11th. My first time hunting so I didn’t know how it would go, but I knew it was in God’s hands. I prayed that he would provide a deer or two, because my family pretty much lives off of meat throughout the year.
It was on Friday October 9th that we were leaving for the hunt. My mom, dad, sister, and I went to Wal-Mart and got our supplies. Things such as snow pants, jacket, back tag holder, blaze orange vest, and food. We went home packed and got the food and other supplies together and my dad, sister, and I left for one of the most exciting weekends of my life. It was a four and a half hour drive from our home to the hunting land in Ashland, but the time passed quickly because we had contests to see who could spot the most Eagle nests on the way there. My dad of course won this because he had driven this way so many times that he knew where every nest was. We drove straight there except we stopped once to get gasoline, and we went through the drive through at McDonald’s for lunch.
We got to the hunting camp in the late afternoon and had to quick unpack before we ran out of daylight. The ground was all slippery and messy because it had rained earlier that day. Our boots were soon coated in a layer of clay. We unloaded the food and took it into the cabin. We then got our clothes and bedding out and made our beds.
The hunting cabin was made of all scraps that my grandfather pulled together. Above the door hung a sign that read “Camp Valiant” in honor of my grandpa’s favorite dog that got killed by a bear on that land. There was a small “screen porch” in the front of the building that had fire wood inside for heating. A screen door led in there where another door led into the living area of the cabin. When you walk in the main door there is a metal sink to your left and a picnic table to your right. Next to the table, on the wall, hung a coat rack and a gun rack. There were a few plaid wool coats hanging on the coat rack, and my dad placed my sister-in-laws .280 Remington rifle, we had brought with, on the gun rack.
Beyond the table sat a couch and a rocking chair. Along the back of the main room were cup-boards with silverware and other small supplies such as matches inside. Down the middle of the room were three poles reaching to the roof. We had brought our own water from home, and my dad now placed the jugs under the sink. There was a barrel for water standing between the sink and the stove. On the barrel was my grandpa’s “signature”, his own sketch of a wolf that he signs our birthday cards with. Also on the far back wall was an opening with a cord strung between and a light blue sheet hung over it.
Beyond the curtain was the bedroom. There were three home-made bunk beds in that room. One on the right, one straight in front of you as you walk in, and one forward a couple feet and to the left. Directly to my left as I walk in however, is another curtain strung between the bunk and the wall. On the other side of the curtain was a door leading outside. To your right, on the side of the building as you walk out, is a light switch that turns an outside light on. About ten feet from the door stood the outhouse that stunk horribly from its many years of use.
Back in the bedroom our beds were made and ready for us to sleep in that night. They were made of small poles and two by fours. Most of the headboards had either one of my brothers, dad, or grandpa’s names carved in it. My dad and grandpa’s bunks each had a small night light on it. The mattresses were nothing more than scrap pieces of carpet nailed over the frame of the bed. After I had explored the cabin I went back in the main room where I found my dad hooking up the propane to the gas lamp.
When he saw me he said, “Could you girls please bring some firewood in, and I will start a fire.”. Lydia and I went into the front screened area of the cabin and brought in plenty of firewood for that night. My dad started a fire in the small stove and the room was soon filled with smoke, but we were soon warm. We closed the curtain leading into the bedroom so that it wouldn’t be filled with smoke when we went to bed. It was now dark out and we only had the gas light and the little light coming through the vents on the stove. Earlier my dad had connected the extra car battery we had brought to the few electrical appliances. There was an electric light in the main living area also, but we had to ration the electricity we used because we only had the one battery.
After we were settled in we ate a cold supper, and played rummy at the table. We all were tired and retired for the night at around eight o’clock. My dad set the alarm on his cell phone for 6 o’clock the next morning. I was expecting the beds to be very uncomfortable, but when I got in bed I was surprised at how comfortable they really were! “Good night”, my dad said.
“Good night”, Lydia and I replied.
I lay in bed that night and heard some sounds outside in the distance. “What do I hear?”, I asked my dad.
“Oh, okay.”, I replied as the howling animals were getting closer, and I could now tell that the sound was howling.
I rolled over and pulled my blankets up over my head. I knew that the next morning the fire would be out and it would be cold. The walls of the cabin were not made of much. There was a two foot base made of boards and from there up they were only tarps and insulated plastic. I laid there listening to the animals outside until I slowly faded out into a peaceful sleep.
At 6 the next morning I was awakened to my dads alarm going off beneath me. He turned it off, got out of bed and was heading out of the room when I sat up in bed. “Mornin’”, I said, as I was chilled by the cold, early, morning air.
“Good morning”, he replied. “Stay in bed until I get the fire started”, he told me.
“mmkay”, I mumbled, still half asleep.
I laid down again and covered my head with my blankets to try and warm up. In a few minutes my dad called from the main room, “You girls get up and get dressed while I get some breakfast.”.
“Lydia?”, I said in a questioning voice to see if she was awake. I got no reply so I just got up and dressed. Then I woke her up and told her it was time to get up. She got up, and changed while I went by my dad to get breakfast.
When I got in there my dad spoke again, “we have to be quiet from now on so that we don’t spook any deer that may be passing by the cabin, possibly heading towards my hunting stand.”.
“Ok”, was all I said, already using a quiet cautious voice. Lydia came out of the bedroom and we told her the same thing. We ate toasted english muffins topped with butter and jam. We got our bag lunches that my mom had prepared, and got all our camouflage and blaze orange on. My dad grabbed the rifle and ammunition as we went quietly out the door.
We made sure the four-wheeler had gas in it, and then we all squeezed on. My dad was standing up driving with the rifle on his back and a flashlight in his hand, because the light on the four-wheeler was burnt out. Lydia was behind him holding a couple lunch bags, and I sat behind Lydia on the very uncomfortable metal rack on the back of the four-wheeler holding the last lunch bag. It was about 6:30 in the morning and the moonlight was still shining brightly. There was a fresh blanket of snow on the ground from the night before, and that made it even more beautiful.
As we drove through the woods the moon shone through the trees whenever there was a break in the thick growth. We could see our breath in the light and the snow sparkled everywhere. After about five minutes we made it to the hunting stand. We stopped the four-wheeler in the trees below the stand and got off. We walked over to the stand and my dad put the lunches inside his jacket so that we could get up the ladder with them. He climbed up first and opened the door to the stand, when he had it opened he motioned for one of us to come up. Lydia climbed up next, and then my dad motioned for me to come.
I had the flashlight now so I stuck it in my jacket pocket as I climbed up the thirty foot ladder to the stand. When I got up to the top my dad grabbed my hand and helped me over the top of the ladder and onto the narrow landing by the door. I went into the stand, and my dad came after me. We each sat down and waited. At quarter to 7 the hunting started and it was just getting bright out. The stand looked over a field about 200 yards on two sides. One side looked down another lane, and the other side looked into the woods.
We waited all morning, Lydia and I rotated windows so that whoever was at the window when the deer showed up got to shoot it. We didn’t want to shoot anything except a buck. We saw many does and fawns cross the lane or the field. We even saw one bounding through the woods. However, by lunch time we hadn’t seen any bucks. We ate our sack lunches, and waited longer. Now Lydia and I asked our dad if we could go back to camp for a little bit, because it was still very cold outside and we were freezing, even though we had a little propane heater in the stand.
He consented, so we got out of the stand and drove back to the camp. When we got there we started another fire, and played cards for a while. After 45 minutes we went back to the stand until the hunt closed for the day at quarter to seven. We still rotated seats and watched contently. We saw yet more does and fawns, but still no bucks.
It was at about 6:40 pm, give or take a few, about five minutes before hunting closed. It was getting dark, and my dad was taking one last look around with his binoculars, when suddenly he stopped. I was at that window at the time so he motioned to me to come sit on his lap right at the window. He opened the window, got the rifle from the corner, and whispered in my ear where the buck was. I already felt the adrenaline coursing through my body.
I looked through the scope in the direction he had indicated and was looking everywhere for the buck. As I said, it was getting dark, so it was getting a little hard to see at 200 yards. I was communicating with my dad asking where it was because I didn’t see anything. He told me again, and as I was passing slowly over that area again, I saw the buck. It was just putting it’s head down to eat again, because most of the snow had melted so you could see the ground again. The reason I hadn’t seen him earlier is because he had his head down eating and only his back was above the bush, and it blended with the ground mostly. Now that I had seen him he had his head down again and was eating, but I knew what to do.
I aimed directly at his spine, got a full view in the scope, and slowly squeezed the trigger. BANG! The sound of the gun rang in everyone’s ears, but mine, because of my adrenaline. That must have fully awakened Lydia because she had been asleep until we awoke her when my dad spotted the deer. Well, the buck dropped in it’s tracks, he didn’t move an inch from where he stood.
“You got him!”, my dad exclaimed proudly, as I stared speechless.
We carefully got the gun and turned off the heater to leave. One by one we climbed down the ladder and got on the four-wheeler. We drove across the field, and I quickly jumped off the four-wheeler to see how big it was. I counted the points, and stood dumbfounded as I turned the number over in my head. My dad came over, made sure the buck was dead, and counted for himself. He exclaimed the number aloud, ”A TEN POINT!”. “I thought it was the eight point I saw bear hunting last week!”
I still was speechless as my dad tied the deer to the four-wheeler to drag it somewhere so we could gut it. Lydia and I jogged behind the four-wheeler as he hauled it half way back to camp. He dragged it off the trail and taught Lydia and I how to gut it. I stood holding the legs in the air while he gutted it. It was now dark so Lydia stood holding the flash light for him. When he pulled the heart out he couldn’t believe it, the heart was the biggest he had ever seen he said. It was as big as his hand! He finished gutting it, cleaned his hands off in the grass, and we hauled it all the way back to the camp.
When we got back he turned our pick-up truck on, and we tagged the deer. With mine and Lydia’s help we hardly got him in the back end of the truck, he was still so heavy. “Clean up if you want, and we will go into town and celebrate”, he told us. Lydia and I got excited because we barely ever go out to eat. We quickly brushed our hair, got out of our camouflage and blaze orange, and were ready to go. We all got in the truck and drove into town. It was about 15 minutes to the town of Ashland from the camp.
When we were in the truck my dad handed me his cell phone, and told me to call my mom and tell her. I called her, and when she answered I was still wondering what to say. “I got a buck”, I said, grinning so hard that I could barely talk.
“You did! How big?” my mom asked.
“It’s a ten point!”, I told her happily.
“A ten point! Alright!”
“We are going out to eat right now.”
“Have fun, haha, the boys are all shocked right now.”
“Love ya, bye.”
“Love you too, see you tomorrow.”, she replied.
“Now call your grandpa”, my dad said when I got off the phone with my mom. “It is his land, he will want to hear the whole story.”.
So I now called my grandpa, and as my dad said, he asked to hear the whole story. I explained it all to him and could tell in his voice that he was proud of me. When I got off the phone with him we were just getting into Ashland and searching for a restaurant. My dad pulled into one that, he explained, is the one they always go to. He was afraid somebody might mess with my buck, so he parked by a window where we could watch it.
We went inside and got seated at a table where we could indeed keep an eye on it. When the waitress came to get our order my dad started bragging about my buck as I got embarrassed from everybody looking at me. She congratulated me and took our order. I ordered a Mountain Dew to drink, and chicken with mashed potatoes. While we were waiting we saw people stop by our truck to admire my buck. The dinner was very good and hot. I burnt my mouth on it, but I didn’t care I was so hungry.
After supper we went back to camp and went to sleep to go hunting the next morning. I slept in the stand while Lydia was waiting for something. At about eight in the morning I woke up to Lydia with the gun in her hand. I instantly knew to stay still and be very quiet, but I sat up strait so I could see out the window. She squeezed the trigger, but I could see she was a little shaky from cold and adrenaline. This time the bang rang in my ears, but I saw the deer get abruptly knocked on it’s left side, jump up and fall on it’s right side, then jump up again and run into the woods. We quickly got out of the stand and went to search for a blood trail.
We didn’t find any blood, but we found a chunk of fat with some fur on it and figured that it was from her buck. My dad said it was the seven point he had seen the week before while bear hunting. This deer was abnormal he told us. It had a black stripe down it’s back and the antlers went up rather then forward. We spent the next few hours searching the woods in the area for the deer. We didn’t find it so we gave up and went back to camp where we packed up quickly and headed home.
We stopped about a half hour to an hour later to register my buck. While I was filling out the slip we saw many guys standing around our truck admiring my buck. The cashier was amazed and congratulated me heartily. A few of the guys who had been admiring my buck came inside the building and saw me filling out the registration slip. They asked if that was my buck, and all stood surprised as my dad bragged that it was my first deer. When I finished registering it, we left on the remainder of the trip home. We went through the drive through at McDonald’s for lunch again, and then Lydia and I slept the rest of the way home.
When we got home my brothers came running outside to see my buck. We took pictures, and then we got on the Internet to test the Boon and Crockett score. The rack scored 136 2/8, my dad said it was perfect uniform, and when it was green the outside spread was 19 ½ inches. We all took well needed showers, and got ready for church that night. We got to church a little late and I sat by my friends. After church everybody, which is only about 20 people, went outside to see my buck.
One elderly lady in our church jokingly commented, “I should have brought my butcher knife.” Everybody laughed and joked, just having a good time. They all admired it, even my friends who don’t care about hunting or deer.
This was one of the most exciting things that I ever experienced. My buck was the biggest of my family. My dad’s ten point buck rack rattled inside of mine! All of my brothers, of course, were sore because they would have been hunting on that land in the regular season that year. My brother Alex still insists that I had beginners luck, and that the buck would never have come out into the open during the regular season. I, however, believe that it was God’s answer to my prayers to let me help feed my family.