Hmm, where to start. As deer season is quickly approaching and we are all out scouting, setting up cameras, putting minerals and bait sites out, I couldn't help but look back on the deer that I was so obsessed with only a few years back. I wanted to tell you about how good God is. God is ALWAYS good and faithful, but this is one prayer that was sent his way every day, every night, every single second that I was thinking of this deer...this was one prayer that I desired to have answered with everything in me.
I'm sure as hunters, you have been there. It was June 2011 and it was time to start scouting and putting my cameras out. I had two leases that I could hunt that year, but one lease was extra special to me. I had hunted that lease since I was 16 and had so many memories there, that I had to give it a go. The other lease that I was on was just not producing that year, or maybe I just wasn't finding the honey holes, but whatever it was, I am glad that I chose to scout my favorite place.
I was bound and determined, some may say I have stubborn tendencies, but I wanted to first of all, go by MYSELF, find MY OWN spot, put MY OWN camera out, and look for MY OWN deer. I wanted to be all in, all invested, so I could feel as I hunter that I could truly do this all by myself with only the help from the good Lord above. As a female, people often assume that someone "takes you hunting" or "does all the hard work for you", well that was something that I wanted NO PART of. I wanted to put my time in and EARN my trophy! So...I asked God to lead me to the right place to hunt.
I decided to do some scouting and put a few cameras out myself. I found this one place in particular that was literally right beside the property gate entrance beside the main road. I was driving by and noticed a deer path! I thought, "what the heck". This would be close walking especially at night when things can tend to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up and I repeatedly say my favorite verse over and over in my head while walking in or out in the pitch dark of night, Joshua 1:9, " Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” This always calms my nerves if I get spooked. Only us ladies are ok to admit that the darkness can be spooky even though we know, you macho dudes feel the same way whether you admit it or not. I followed the trail into the woods and to my surprise this close to the gate by the main road, there were deer paths EVERYWHERE! I immediately got excited and decided I was definitely putting my camera out here! I chose my path to put the camera on, threw out some corn (which is legal in West Virginia) and I left there and anxiously waited for week to check it.
The week passed and I had been reading some hunting magazines learning about scent control. This year I had decided to really take it serious. I decided I may as well give it a try to see if it really worked, especially while looking around and not seeing a buck of my own on the wall, I figured "what do I have to lose!" So I put my rubber boots on. some gloves, and sprayed down before going in. I took my computer with me and headed to the woods! My corn was gone which is always a good sign and I took out my memory card and put it into my computer! I couldn't believe what I was about to see within the first 10 pictures, MY BIG BUCK! I got so excited that I started doing the happy dance and taking pictures to save on my phone. He was an 8 point with nice long tines and just a plain out great deer for West Virginia, and deer that some people their whole life in West Virginia would never get to harvest, let alone see! He was coming in at 9:00 pm or midnight or 4 am. He wasn't hanging around to eat, he was just passing through. I got many pictures of him throughout the next few months which only made my obsession and love for this deer grow. I would go to bed every single night, look at the picture of this deer on my phone, give the picture a smooch (yes kinda weird I know), and then say my prayers and ask God to please please please bless me with this deer. I really think that I prayed about this deer so much that God probably gave him to me so I would stop asking haha. I would think about him during the day, at night, and in my dreams. I was literally all in for this buck and THIS buck ONLY. I have a habit of finding a deer and immediately claiming him to be mine no matter what, and I kind of get possessive over them. I can't help that I do that, but I do.
So fast forwarding to bow season. I had a climbing tree stand so I picked MY OWN tree and began to sit. I sit every morning going in at least an hour before daylight and I would sit every night that I could get out of work. Luckily I had a job that I made my own hours so I could really use that to my advantage during hunting season. I don't think I hardly missed a day, especially a morning. I was sitting in my stand one morning (I could always hear deer traveling because I learned that I was in a travel corridor for these animals who would come from the river and the cornfield across the road in the mornings and come into the woods where I was set up, and cross the dirt road and head into the holler in the clear cut the rest of the day. This one morning in particular it was really cold and there was frost on the ground. I will never forget this day. I was sitting in the tree before daylight listening to the deer walking around and wondering if I was actually sitting right above the deer I was so passionate about. It was about 5:30 am when I heard tires screeching and a horn blow. (Big deer had been ran over by vehicles here in the past because of the main road). My heart almost stopped as I prayed to God that MY buck had not just got hit. The sun began to shine that morning and of course I am begging God to please bring MY buck in. At about 8:00 am that morning, I heard a deer coming from the left towards the main road, I excitedly got ready and to my surprise, here HE came walking in from my left and going down the path that was behind me. I couldn't get him in bow range and I was freaking out. So i decided to use the grunt call to see what would happen. As I blew, he stopped dead in his tracked and looked RIGHT AT ME! I was in awe at his beauty as he stood there for that brief second looking right at me. This was the first time I had ever seen a buck this big in the woods while hunting let alone the buck that I was certain was MINE! By heart went into a million pieces when he jumped and took off down the path leading to the clear cut. I watched as long as I could see him and begged God to give me one more chance, but off he went out of my sight. My hunt was DONE. I was going home with tears in my eyes as my one chance had been ruined and all my hard work and prayers went down the drain. I had a hard day that day thinking about all the "what if's" that may have changed the outcome. As night fell, I kept the faith and continued to ask God for this deer that I was so passionate about and truly felt in my heart that he was MINE.
I continued hunting the rest of bow season and moved my stand into a group of 3 trees that was closer to the the path that I had seen him and many other deer take, but I didn't see him anymore. I had him pass through once on my camera but then a two week span came by with no pictures or sightings of him at all. I was once again devasted, but I continued on thinking, " You just never know what may show up" although my heart was taken by MY BIG 8 point and I didn't want ANY other deer. Then came rifle season....
Not a lot of people hunt on this lease during bow season, but when rifle season comes in everyone shows up and EVERYTHING IS FREE GAME. Let me just tell you, if God wasn't tired of hearing my prayers for MY BUCK from June to October, he surely had to be the first week of rifle season. I had to cover other clients for one of the girls that I worked with during the 1st week so my time was going to be limited the first week. That added to the stress factor that I wasn't going to be there and someone else was. So I hunted every chance I got and prayed every free second that I had for this deer.... and then comes Thanksgiving day 2011. It was really cold that morning. I remember. I woke up at 4:30am and didn't even give my car enough time for my windows to defrost before I headed to the lease. It was 17 degrees with a cold crunchy snow on the ground. I didn't need any kind of light to see that morning. I had my .300 Winchester Magnum (which I have a special bond with ol' Bertha) and I had just got a new scope for my gun. I was ready! I climbed up in my tree but not as far this morning. I sit down and got ready. It was still dark when I heard someone pull up to the property gate. It was so still and quiet that morning that the rattling of the lock and the gate could be heard for miles it seemed. I heard that gate open and then close, but the car had took off back down the highway. Well not too much later just as it was breaking daylight, I caught movement coming down the path to my left. I immediately saw those beautiful tines glistening as he was walking with his head towards the ground and he wasn't stopping for me to get a good shot. I got my gun up and then I heard it....someone was pulling up to the gate and making all the noise trying to unlock the lock. My heart really started pounding because I thought he's going to run and get away from me again..but to my surprise he STOPPED dead in his tracks!!! I couldn't believe it, this was my chance...God was giving me my chance!!! I found the vitals and prayed for God to guide my shot and I squeezed the trigger. I saw him jump two times and then I didn't see anything else. I couldn't see that far ahead of me because of the briers. Then excitement went to panic. I didn't know if I missed or if he was down! I immediately called my mom and come to find out..she was the one who was just passing through the gate!!!! She had come earlier and forgot her hat so she went back to get it. If she hadn't forgot her hat and had to come back and open the gate, he may have never stopped long enough for me to get a shot! I asked her if she would stop and help me find MY BUCK that I just shot. She ran into the woods and we followed the BLOOD trail! I had hit him! He only ran about 20 yards from where I shot him and he was dead! I couldn't believe it! MY BUCK that I had Prayed for every single day, the one I had found on MY OWN was laying at my feet. I immediately hugged mom and we jumped for joy. I thanked God over and over for answering my prayers, and then I just had to hold his antlers and take pictures with the deer that I had stared at on my phone for months and then spooked during bow season. The funny thing is, my brother and dad were hunting on Cheat Mountain together and they heard my .300 go off down in the valley that morning and radioed my mom to see if I had just shot MY deer that I had so passionately been pursuing all season and the one that would have ruined family relationships if any one of them went after him haha. That was a season and a deer that I will forever hold close to my heart. It taught me so much about hunting, myself, and how with God all things are possible. Nothing is impossible with God and everything will happen in his time. He says ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find. God is good all the time. All the time God is good.