by Ami Sprague
On December 14th, 2013. I had the opportunity to guide my friend Charity and experience her joy as she harvested her first deer.
Charity has been getting a deer tag for the last few years but has not had the opportunity to actually get a chance at a deer. She began her interest in hunting not by her father, boyfriend or brother, she started this journey on her own. After getting all of her supplies, she now had the challenge of finding land to hunt.
Last year she was allowed access to a small parcel of land which she had a stand put up but she never had the chance to go. She hadn’t ever climbed into a tree stand before and needed a little guidance to feel safe. So another year went by with no deer.
This year I decided to host a “doe camp” for all of my female friends during the opening weekend of Indiana Muzzleloader season. I thought it would be neat to have to girls hunting while all of our husbands either helped guide or stayed back and held down the fort.
I invited several gals who have been hunting before as well as friends whom have had an interest but never the opportunity. Two weeks before our “doe camp” we all gathered to sight in, and become familiar with shooting a muzzleloader. Even some of the experienced hunters in the camp where not familiar with using a muzzleloader as they have harvested their deer with either a bow or shotgun.
On the Friday before our hunt, we all gathered at my house to assign blinds and guides. Opening Saturday went by with several missed opportunities and only 1 doe harvested but the girls didn’t give up. On Sunday we were successful with 4 more does harvested. I wanted to make sure that each of the girls who had bought an out-of-state tag were going home with some meat for the freezer. By the end of the weekend all were successful but Charity.
I told Charity that just because the “doe camp” had come to an end, were were still going to be persistent at harvesting her deer. That Monday morning Charity came back and we sat in a ground blind but the morning passed without seeing a single deer. Thankfully that didn’t discourage her. She was able to come back on Thursday morning December 14th. The morning started with me getting a text stating that her alarm didn’t go off and she was worried that we wouldn’t be able to go. I told her to come anyway and we will sneak into a ground blind that sits on a field edge close to my house.
As we arrived at the blind it was now daylight, luckily we were able to sneak in unnoticed, The ground was still covered in a heavy frost as we got all settled in and set up. After about 1/2 hour we saw a few deer moving on a hillside just inside the woods about 80 yards to the left of us but there was no clear shot. Having hunted this area for years, I knew it would just a matter of time before they gathered in the field about 100 yards in front of us where my husband had put in a small food plot. Sure enough, about another 10 minutes had passed by before there were 3 does standing in the food plot. Charity then raised her gun and set her sights on the largest of the 3 does. Unfortunately the does were just passing through and did not give Charity the opportunity at a shot. As we watched them disappear up a logging road through the woods, I reassured her that there will be another opportunity.
The area of the food plot was still covered in the frost at this time, I told her to be ready when the frost clears they will be back to feed. As the sun rose higher in the sky, the frost then cleared on the food plot and sure enough we had a yearling come out to feed. The next thing we know, we had 2 more does come into the food plot, one being a nice mature doe which I ranged at 163 yards. As they started to filter in, Charity took aim at looking through her scope while I watched through binoculars. I then told her to keep steady and I taught her something my dad had taught me “BRASS” breathe, relax, aim, steady, squeeze. I told her that when she had an opportunity at the doe standing broadside that she could take the shot whenever she felt comfortable. The next thing I knew I was trying to keep watch through a thick cloud of smoke!
After her shot we were both so excited that we only sat there for about 30 seconds before we were out of the blind looking for a blood trail. As we approached the area where the doe was standing she started to get nervous because there was no blood (I knew she had a good shot by the way the deer reacted and also knew that it could be several yards before we would even see any blood). I then walked over to a small point of woods that divided the field and saw the doe lying on the small hillside (It only ran about 20 yards before dying and there was no blood other than a few feet before the deer.) As Charity approached and saw her deer lying there she said “I did it”! After several high fives and about 50 pictures later, our hearts were still racing.
I did not carry a gun the weekend of the doe camp nor while I was sitting with Charity but experiencing someones first deer harvest was just as exciting as if I were hunting myself. I felt so privileged to be a part of something that she, nor I, will ever forget. I got the funniest text from her later that day, it read….
Charity: I still cant believe I killed a deer this morning. I was beginning to think I was just meant to donate to the DNR…lol Thanks so much for taking me.
Me: No problem!! I had just as much fun as you, I’m still smiling!!
Charity: I’m still asking myself…”did that just happen?” lol.
All in all, 6 ladies harvested does. For 2 of them it was their first harvest ever and for 3 others it was their first muzzleloader harvest. It was definitely a weekend and week I will never forget and was proud to be a part of.
Ami Sprague is a Pro Staff Member of Shoot Like A Girl. You can find out more information about Ami in the Pro Staff Section at www.ShootLikeAGirl.com