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A Girl's Muzzleloader Hunt
There is a certain defiance that was instilled in me at a young age. I refuse to bend and crack under the stereotypes that have been thrown around about girls hunting. All my life I have heard it said by other kids at school that girls can’t hunt or shoot as well as men. I’ve been hunting with my dad, literally, since I was a baby. We are a family of locavores, what this means is that we live off the land. We grow our own vegetables and we hunt and fish for our own meat. So when hunting season comes, it is all hands on deck to get the amount of meat we need, which is usually at least ten deer a year. Our favorite time to get out is during the deer rut because this is when the deer are moving around and are obliviously looking for mates. Usually the rut falls around the start of muzzleloader season in Virginia.
Last muzzleloader season, at the peak of the rut, I went to try my sister’s spot in the middle of an oak stand on a ridge. There had been deer scrapes, rubs, and droppings disseminated throughout the area all season. I had extra time before my college class and decided I would give her spot a try. I got dressed in my camouflage gear and grabbed my CVA muzzleloader. The air was chilly and brisk and there was a breeze that stirred up the smell of dead leaves. There was something about the taste of the air and the feel of the atmosphere that seemed promising. I walked quietly through the woods, cautiously placing each foot, stopping every five paces to listen and look around. When I was almost to my spot, I saw a huge deer scrape on the ground that was freshened earlier that morning.
I sat on a finger, near a swamp, facing down into a valley under a big tall oak tree. I looked around to locate possible shooting lanes and looked through my scope at some of them trying to get a feel for the area and what to expect. When I go out to hunt, my gun and I become a team. I have full confidence in my firearm. If I don’t, then I won’t hunt with it.
It wasn’t long before the squirrels and birds came back out and started rustling and running around. After a couple of hours of scanning between trees a flock of geese flew in an arrow over me, heading toward the swamp. The sky was a beautiful pink color with a few clouds. It looked like it was going to rain soon. Darkness was creeping in and I had been sitting still for a while and I needed to shift. I slowly looked around and didn’t see any deer. I set my CVA muzzleloader next to me so that I could adjust my seating. Right about the time I set the rifle down, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. My heart started to race. I looked and saw that a buck was coming up from the valley heading toward me. He had his head to the ground and was oblivious to anything around him. He looked like a decent meat-deer, probably a four-point. I felt for my gun and carefully got it to my lap. I started to raise it; each second my target getting closer and closer. At this point my heart was beating so loud I could hear it in my ears. The stock of my muzzleloader was almost in my shoulder and the deer looked up and I froze. My arm was almost shaking. I was trying to control my nerves. The deer put his head back down and kept walking and now he was almost directly to my left. I finished getting my gun in my shoulder. I looked downrange and saw that the deer had made a loop around one of the oak trees and was heading back down the hill. I still had a decent view of him. I found him in my scope. I took a deep breath and put the crosshairs behind his shoulder. I could see his muscles flex in my scope. My heart was still racing. I let out half of my breath and squeezed the trigger. The sound blew up the woods, my ears were ringing, and the WhiteHots hung in the air. I knew I made a good shot. I looked around the smoke and saw the deer stumble a little and race away toward the swamp. My teeth chattered with excitement. I couldn’t stop shaking. I text my dad to let him know I had gotten one, because he was hunting another property. I didn’t have much time because I was losing light which would make it hard to track him down. With this in mind, I started to look for blood.
The gloomy clouds dropped rain and the blood was going to be washed away before long. I saw a few splashes of blood and scuff marks on the hill where he had fought for grip against the steep slope. It wasn’t long before my dad showed up to help me track him. When we first saw him from the top of the hill, he was lying in a creek. It wasn’t until we got closer that we truly realized how big he was. I tried to see around my dad as he lifted up the rack that was stuck in the mud. When he got the head up, we realized that it was a huge eight-point buck. About an hour later when we finally got him home, muscles sore from battling with steep, wet slopes, he dressed out to be 166 pounds. I have God, and my CVA muzzleloader to thank for such an amazing hunt.