“There is deer season and there is waiting for deer season.”
In my house we are hunters. We keep the above saying to the letter. From October to March our weeks are all about preparation for the weekends. That is when we drive four hours every Friday to the Hunting Camp just to be in the woods waiting for the perfect buck. We hunt Saturday morning and afternoon, and Sunday morning. This is the best time for us to bond as a family – no electronics, and we all enjoy everything that is involved in hunting.
In the woods, each of us has a spot to be, either a tree stand or a box blind. First time Vivian went with us, she reassured my husband she could stay by herself. Reluctantly, he agreed after reminding her of several rules and gave her a .243 riffle, which is the weakest one we have. He left her in my box blind because it is elevated from the ground about 5 steps, a little safer, and that was the place we saw the most number of deer in the motion camera.
We usually arrive at our spot in the woods around 5:30 am when it is still pitch black, having only the path underneath our feet to guide us. We don’t use flashlights. We stay there until around 11:30 am when we go back for lunch and return in the afternoon. I wish we could stay much longer but for us girls there is no bathroom break. No fun in that!
On this particular day, my husband and I didn’t see a thing. Not even a skirl entertained us. All was dead calm. Then, around 10:15 we heard a shot from the direction Vivian was sitting. Immediately my husband called her on the radio in a very low tone to avoid noises.
“Was it you?”
“Yes, I killed a buck,” she answered still with a trembling voice.
“Do you see it?”
“No, he jumped into the woods.”
“Stay put till I get there. Do not get down,” he said emphatically. There are many hogs in the area and they attack. Wagner was being a protective dad.
I was excited for her and so proud. First time ever and she kills a buck? Or so we thought.
Time to leave. Wagner came from down the stream where he has his stand in a tree, met me up the path and we both went to see Vivian. From a distance she saw us through the box opening and came down excited to tell us how it happened, pointing to the spot where the buck was when she fired.
No blood. No pattern to follow. We looked, and searched, and nothing.
Frustration grew stronger as my husband, a veteran hunter, kept saying she probably missed the shot. After all, it was her first time and the riffle was not that strong for such a distance. She insisted. We broad the search area to no avail. No signs of any killing.
We tried to comfort her for the disappointment. In private, she would say to me that she had shot in the right spot, and she was absolutely sure that the buck was there somewhere. She always talks to me more than with dad – a closer bond, I guess. What could we do? Maybe the shot just scratched him and he fled…
One week went by. We, the girls, had an event to attend so Wagner went by himself to the camp. He decided to try his luck at my box. As soon as the sun started to push down the cold fog and warm the woods a little, he felt a stench coming from where Vivian said the buck was. He went to check and sure enough there he was, at least what the coyotes left of it. He called us.
“You’re not going to believe it, Vivian really killed a buck. An eight-point buck.” He said like he was so regretful for not finding it the week before.
And he continued,
“It was about ten steps further than where we stopped looking. The coyotes ate most of it but I’ll take the head for her to see.”
“Imagine that, she was right all along,” I responded with a grin on my face.
We boiled the head with borax to clean it. The skull had been crushed but the antlers were fine. It’s hanging on our wall as Vivian’s proud reminder to all of us that she had the right shot just as she had said. For us it is a reminder that we should not doubt the inexperienced. With patience, attention, and determination one can accomplish great things.