My Trophy Whitetail Buck

Just a few years ago at the age of fifteen, I was personally introduced into the hunting world. Growing up with a dad and brother that went hunting every season, as the daughter, I was never included in their traditional man’s world. As daddy’s little girl in the family, I was never considered for a hunting trip. One day I finally stood up for myself and insisted to be taken to the gun range. After a full afternoon of shooting skeet at Carter’s Country with my dad, I was finally given the credit I deserved. That day, daddy’s “little” girl, earned her spot on the next hunting trip at our deer lease in Rocksprings, Texas for November of 2011.
Weeks leading up to my first trip to the deer lease was filled with excitement, nervousness, and of course many questions. At the time I had no clue what to expect. I had heard stories from my brother about his experiences at the deer lease.  Little did I realize how much work actually went into a hunting trip. To start off our hunting weekend, I never knew the first hour after we arrived would be spent putting up the camper where I would be sleeping for the weekend. It wasn’t as easy as it looked. Around the camp fire that first night my dad and I joined our family friends for stories I assumed were to scare me for the following morning. As we sat around the fire, I heard the sound of coyotes, the fire popping, and cricket sounds. To everyone’s surprise I wasn’t afraid or nervous. To be perfectly honest, that night I fell in love.  I fell in love with the fellowship; the beauty of the night sky filled with bright stars; and the dream of shooting my first deer the next day. 

While I lay in my camper bed with my mind racing, I was going over scenarios of how the next morning would play out.  Before I knew it, my dad hopped out of bed and told me it was time to load up the ranger. On the ride out to the deer stand I quickly learned that silence was key. The Silence, cold air blowing against my face, and not to mention the darkness that surrounded us, played wonders throughout my mind on that long, dark ride into the unfamiliar. After parking the ranger approximately a quarter of a mile away from the stand, my dad and I made the long walk that felt like a decade. My mind and eyes were moving in every direction possible. Yet the most important thing to worry about at that time was where to place my foot next that would be the quietest. 
For the next five hours my dad and I sat next to each other in complete silence. We experienced the sun rising, a few red foxes playing in the brush to the left of us, and a couple of noises that turned into false hope. Also, I quickly discovered what an Emu was. As my stomach started to rumble, my dad realized the morning hunt was not going to be successful. It was time for a well-deserved father daughter breakfast at the only restaurant in town, King Burger. The trek back to the Ranger was even longer than the journey to the stand.  That morning crushed my hopes. I was devastated about missing out on seeing my buck. My dad saw the disappointment in my eyes. He said everything he could to bring my hopes back up.  He did the one thing that put a sparkle back in my eyes. We headed back from a late breakfast and went straight to the stand. 
My dad opted to take me to a different stand. This one was located on the opposite side of the property. There was one small issue with this stand. It was only made for one person. My dad had a good feeling about the location, so as I sat on the chair swiveling back and forth, he kneeled down on the floor next to me and helped keep look out. Hours dragged by. As the sun started to set, my eyes filled with tears. I knew as soon as the sun lay it’s head to rest, it would be time to head back to camp. How could my first hunting trip come to a close without seeing anything?  As a tear fell down my check, my dad knocked my knee and whispered “Look!” There he was… walking along the dried up stream that ran through the property. 
Time was running out with the adrenaline rushing through my body as I looked through the Leupold 3 X9 scope on my dad’s Weatherby 270 rifle. Once I had the buck in my sights, without hesitation I pulled the trigger. With a single shot, the 6 point buck fell to its side. He landed only a couple yards away behind a pile of brush. I can’t explain the sudden overwhelming joy I experienced at that moment.  The wait was over. After all the years of being the watchful observer to my dad and brother’s world, I had finally shot my first buck. Without a second thought I took off towards the brush he fell behind. My dad followed behind with the ranger to load him up. After a quick photo shoot we headed back to camp to show of my first buck.
What I soon learned was that I was the only hunter to shoot a deer that season on the property. According to the land owner, the drought the year before had greatly damaged the deer population in Rocksprings, where there weren’t many reports of successful hunts. That 6 point white tail became even more special to me. I had shot the “trophy buck” of my life; a trophy not because of how big or impressive he was, but because of the meaning behind him. I knew from the very beginning of this hunt I would create a memory that would last a lifetime. I will never forget that first hunt with my dad and the blessing God gave me that weekend. After that first year, my dad and I have returned to a different property in Rocksprings, TX quite a few times. Many of them were not successful. But I will forever keep with me the memory of my first hunt with my dad. That’s the blessings I take with me.
Michaela ODonnell