by Madee Kelley
I had been in the woods four hours and was still hunting. Two turkeys came by and had scared me out of my wits. Two does and a small four point buck had also already crossed my path and the squirrels were starting to get on my nerves. Everyone else that was hunting in the immediate area had already shot and the pressure was on. Though the leaves were falling like God’s grace on me, I kept reminding myself of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” I trusted that God had something special in store for me. When the cold started to nip at my nose, I stood up to stretch my frozen legs. A small sight of movement caught in the corner of my right eye.
I slowly eased my head to the right, being careful of every move I made. The body of a deer moved in and out of the brush about 70 yards from my stand. I caught a glimpse of his gorgeous antlers and instantly knew this would be the one I was going to take a shot at. I grabbed my gun and looked at him through my scope. I knew that if I shot now, it wouldn’t be an intelligent shot so I followed him in my scope until I couldn’t see him anymore. An idea popped into my head like toast pops out of a toaster; I was going to try and rattle him back in. All morning I had been rattling but nothing had seemed to want to fight me. After waiting a minute or two I gave the bag of sticks a real hard slide between my stiff hands. Over the sound of my rattling I can hear this fighter buck and he was coming in hot.
Dropping the Hunter Specialties rattle bag (shout out to Heath Wood) in my backpack, I held my 7 millimeter 08 with a hard clutch, the adrenaline moving me faster than my brain. I lifted the gun in ready position with one quick motion. The six-point stopped dead in his tracks and stared right at me. I tried my best to remain stealthy while my nose started to drip. Through all the excitement I could feel my heartbeat pumping, and I thought for sure this buck was going to hear it too. He slowly walked out from the brush he had previously stopped behind and stopped again, curiously. Remembering I was covered in Mossy Oak from head to toe, I knew that it wasn’t possible for this deer to see me if I was still enough. After 10 seconds of an eye to eye stare down he began a leisurely pace through the woods once again. He stopped to look around but a tree was blocking the vital organ I was aimed for. The last time he walked out again, he put his wet, black nose to the ground and stopped for the last second of his life.
I steadied myself, slowed my breathing, flicked the gun off safety, and gave the trigger a nice and easy squeeze. “BOOM” echoed throughout the stilled woods. Immediately, I flicked the gun on safety and watched as the buck ran 30 yards and collapsed in a struggle to live. I waited a few minutes then got down from my stand. As soon as my chilled feet touched the ground, I looked around realizing it was actually quite scary in the woods by myself. Though I had a gun I caught myself thinking things like, “This is going to be the one time that I see a bear,” and “What if a bigger buck comes in close to me for the fight I called in?” All kinds of possibilities were running around in my head. Getting more and more worried, I climbed halfway up my tree stand and waited on the ladder for my rescuer to come and save me.
My father and grandfather soon arrived. Embarrassed, I quickly climbed down and acted like I was stretching. I led my father to where I shot my deer and there was an immediate blood trail. The blood trail was so wide that I knew my buck wouldn’t be far away. There he was, a wide six-point and a fighter. I named this buck Hulk Hogan because he was the largest bodied deer I’d ever seen and he was marked on his back from where he had previously been fighting. All in all the great buck made for a great hunt. I would like to again thank Heath Wood from Hunter Specialties, Mossy Oak, and Mossy Oak pro Ron Kelley (my dad) for great scouting. If it weren’t for them, I would have never been able to pull off this successful hunt.
Madee Kelley is the 13-year-old daughter of Mossy Oak ProStaffer Ron Kelley of Kimberling City, MO.