By Arthur E. Tome, Bowdoinham, Maine
I have been deer hunting for more than 70 years and I’ve got to say that one November, I had the pleasure of experiencing one of the most exciting hunts of my life. It was Nov. 4, and we were hunting out of my son’s camp in Embden, Maine. My two sons and I arrived at camp on Thursday evening and were in our stands before daylight the next morning. At about 8 a.m. I had a massive buck walk by my stand, but was unable to get a clear shot at him.
That afternoon, my grandson’s girlfriend, Ashley, arrived at camp and was very anxious to go deer hunting. She stayed out until quitting time and had a doe come by, but with a buck-only permit, she had to pass on the deer. That evening, my grandson, Evan, who was working in northern Maine, called Ashley, and said he was going to be passing close by with a piece of heavy equipment. He wanted Ashley to meet him and travel home with him to drop off the equipment, which she did. They didn’t arrive back at the camp until 1 o’clock the next morning.
Although she was running on little sleep, Ashley was the first one up in the morning, making her the first one out the door to her stand. My two sons and I were all sitting in different locations, and at about 8 o’clock that morning I heard a single shot come from the direction that Ashley was sitting. Within the next 10 minutes, I heard four shots come from the direction that one of my sons was sitting. I got a text from my son saying he had shot a nice 8-point buck and that he had talked to Ashley who had shot at a buck, but was unsure if she hit it.
My two sons and I dragged the 8-pointer back to camp. In the meantime, Ashley had gone back to camp to get Evan to help her look for the deer she thought she had shot. They soon discovered that she had hit the deer and began following a scant blood trail. We caught up with them, and assisted with the tracking for another hour. We realized that we were getting near a main road and didn’t want to push the deer across the road if the buck was still alive. We sat Ashley and Evan down, and my son and I circled down toward the road and headed back toward them.
We hadn’t gone 100 yards when my son called me over, and there was Ashley’s deer, a nice 6-point buck! I went to get Ashley and told her we had found some new sign and wanted her to come help us. When she got to where the deer was and saw her buck, she was beyond thrilled. I have never seen anyone get that excited about finding a deer. She has been deer hunting since she was a teenager, and this was the first deer she had ever shot. I asked her if it was going to bother her to watch us field-dress the deer, to which she replied, “No, I got on YouTube and learned how to dress one earlier.” The excitement of that first kill still shows on her face to this day whenever someone talks to her about her hunt.
Hearing her tell her version of her hunt is even more heart-pounding. She was sitting in her stand when a big buck came across the opening. She was ready to shoot him but he disappeared behind a ravine out of sight. When he came out of the ravine, he was almost into the woods and she was unable to get a shot at him. Trying to shake off the buck fever that had taken over, she took out her phone and pulled up a deer app that had deer calls on it and tried to call the buck back out. Another buck popped his head up and came running toward her and stopped. He was 130 yards away and Ashley ended her hunt with a single, fabulous shot from her .243 Winchester.
I couldn’t be more proud that I was there to witness her first deer kill. Ashley got her bowhunting safety certification this year and is looking forward to hunting with a bow. She has a lifetime hunting license, and with her enthusiasm for hunting she will be a wonderful role model for other women interested in the sport.
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