By Colin Hulzenga, Highland, Ind.
About a month before gun season started, my wife asked me to take her hunting to see if she could get a deer. I was reluctant because it would mean I would have to sit with her, since it was her first time, and that would lessen my opportunity to get a deer. But I saw past all my selfishness and agreed to take her.
The Friday before Indiana’s opening weekend of gun season, I ended up shooting a nice big 9-point with my bow in Illinois. After shooting that buck, I was fully content with taking her hunting. I took her to the range before the hunt just to make sure she was confident with her chosen shotgun and to see what range she could shoot. After shooting, we decided her range was 70 yards or less. We got to the property and geared up. She wore all my old hunting gear. Now, mind you, she is 5 feet tall and I’m 6-foot-2, so she looked a little ridiculous, but it would do for now. We got to a buddy stand that has been very successful for many years; it sits in a treeline looking over two farm fields with some woods. There was about an hour left and we hadn’t seen anything, and I could tell she was getting discouraged. Then, out stepped two does at 400 yards. She wasn’t too excited since her tag was only good for a buck, and 15 minutes later three more does stepped into the field, also far away. But then out stepped a little 3-point buck and he started down the treeline. Just as he got to 100 yards he turned into the treeline and walked away. So close, but not this time.
The Friday after Thanksgiving we gave it another try. We were sitting there for about an hour and a half without seeing a thing when my wife happened to look over her shoulder to the right and saw two deer. I quickly looked through my binocular and could tell they were two little bucks, a 3-point and 5-point. I thought: Is she really going to get a shot on her second time out? They started trotting toward the woods, and I told her to get ready to shoot. They were still moving so I made a grunting noise with my mouth to get them to stop at 60 yards. I told her to shoot the closer buck; she did, and it looked good. We waited 30 minutes and then I got down to look for blood, but to no avail. We searched in the woods for another 45 minutes but only found some belly hair in the field. She grazed his stomach and I was confident he wasn't wounded so we packed up and left defeated.
She kept asking if we could go Sunday. Sunday was the last day of the season, and the weather didn't look promising. I could tell she was devastated. By Saturday afternoon the weather forecast looked better, so we decided to go. My dad tagged along hoping to get a buck himself. When gearing up, she insisted on wearing her rain boots. She claims they are lucky because she found two sheds on her first time out while wearing them. When we got to the stand it was windy and drizzling. After 45 minutes of seeing nothing, I accepted that we'd be leaving empty handed, but was happy that at least we got out. Continuing to look for deer, I eventually saw movement. I looked through my binocular and saw antlers—big antlers. She grabbed her gun. The buck stepped to the edge of the field behind us and just stood there. He was 90 yards away, and I knew it was out of her range. I had a shot, but I knew I couldn’t take the buck from her. Luckily, he went back in the woods and stepped out again—this time at 70 yards. That was a big mistake.
I told my wife to switch sides with me so she could get a shot. He was quartering to us, and told her where to hold. She used the back of the stand as a rest and took the shot. I knew it was a good hit. He ran off, and 40 yards later he was down. I texted my dad to join us and we all walked over to where the buck was lying. That was when we saw what she had just shot—the biggest buck ever taken on the property, a 160-inch 13-pointer! Talk about a first buck, beginner's luck and lucky boots!
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