First Anniversary Buck
July 10, 2018
Editorial Staff (296 articles)

First Anniversary Buck

Couple celebrates wedding anniversary with a deer hunt

By Bryan Hope

For our first wedding anniversary, my wife, Cassandra, and I decided to spend it in a way special to both of us: in a deer stand. We couldn’t think of a better way to get out of the busy hustle of everyday life than spending it outdoors. Cassandra and I have both been hunting our entire lives, but this was only the second time we had ever shared the experience together.

She has a long tradition of hunting with her father, Donnie, and since the time I met her, I had heard stories about deer camp and the ones that got away. So, when she asked if I’d like to wake up at 4:30 on a Saturday and freeze in a deer stand with her, I was honored.

When the alarms went off that morning, she was up and ready to go before I knew it. I had never seen her so motivated or determined. Her nephew, Taylor, had killed a really nice mature buck a few weeks prior, and she was intent on outdoing him. It’s friendly competition the two have shared for several seasons.

We had a 30-mile drive to her parents’ house where we would meet up with Donnie, Taylor, and Nancy, Cassandra’s mother. Nancy had volunteered to watch our eight-month-old daughter, who awoke in quite the energetic mood herself. After a brief discussion on which blind we would use, Donnie handed Cassandra the same .243 she’d used for years and we loaded into his pickup.

Before arriving at the deer stand, we had a very nice buck run across the road in front of us. We slowed down to admire him as he jumped a fence into the pasture just west of where we were headed. Cassandra made a comment that she hoped to see something that nice during the hunt. Little did she know the day would get much better.

Once we got to the stand, we grabbed our gear from the truck with help from Donnie and Taylor, and climbed into the “Condo,” as her family has named this particular blind. With my coffee in hand, I watched the taillights of Donnie’s truck fade in the distance. I prepared for a nice long day in the blind. But Cassandra had other plans.

She has a reputation for being a pretty fortunate hunter. She never seems to wait very long before a shooter buck walks out, and this day would be no exception. As I attempted to glass over the dark fields before sunrise, she had the smarter idea of closing her eyes and curling up between the propane heater and the wall. She did so, knowing there would be her shooter buck in the field when the sun finally came up. Boy, was she right.

First light

Once the sun broke over the horizon, she woke up and immediately asked for binoculars. She quickly handed them back to me and grabbed her trusty .243. She saw the buck step out of the thick overgrowth of what had been a wheat field last season. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen him.

How could she spot him so quickly after her peaceful nap? Judging by the pictures I had seen, and her stories of deer from the past, I knew this must be the biggest one she’d seen in person. Not to mention her immediate nervousness and quick breathing. As the buck continued his path to a nearby feeder, I soon realized he would walk right underneath us.

Patiently, she waited for her shot. Eventually he stopped right in front of the blind and almost seemed to look up at us. We froze.

She had her rifle ready, but felt uncomfortable with the shot. Then suddenly, he turned and ran.

Our hearts dropped. Cassandra felt devastated she didn’t have the shot she wanted. Then, just as suddenly as he ran, he stopped. At roughly 120 yards he turned slightly, quartered away and presented her with the shot she wanted. “I’m going to take the shot,” she whispered.
As I watched through binoculars, I held my breath and waited. Like a seasoned professional, she exhaled and slowly squeezed the trigger. BOOM! The perfect shot.

The buck fell where he stood, and the two of us were completely overwhelmed with excitement. It was one of the proudest moments for me to witness. My beautiful wife had taken a beautiful deer on our first wedding anniversary.

After our short celebration, she grabbed her phone and said, “I have to tell my dad!” Knowing they were together in the truck, she texted Taylor and Donnie to let them know what had happened, and maybe to brag to Taylor a little bit about it as well. We knew it would be another 20 minutes or so before they arrived in the truck. So we started packing our things and reliving the morning’s events.

Where did he go?

Just as I opened the door to the blind to climb down, I heard her gasp. She stared out the window in disbelief. I turned just in time to watch the deer disappear through the trees. What happened? The shot was perfect. He lay motionless for half an hour. How could this be?

When Donnie and Taylor arrived, we explained the situation and collectively decided to drive the long way around the pasture and see if we could locate a blood trail to follow. We hopped out of the truck, with rifle in hand, and immediately spotted the blood. It was small. Not much to work with, and we couldn’t find a trail in the direction he had run.

It was a confusing moment. Cassandra felt sure about her shot. I felt just as confident, but the deer disappeared. Taylor ran off into the wood line with Cassandra close behind.

I stood there scratching my head as I heard the screams of joy. They had found him 20 yards behind the trees. The excitement was contagious. The pride in Donnie’s eyes, the joy on Taylor’s face, as well as a little jealousy, and Cassandra, standing proudly in front of her trophy buck. It was a magical moment that I’ll never forget.

After Taylor begrudgingly field dressed the deer for Cassandra, we finally had the buck in the back of the truck and drove to have him processed. She decided not to shoulder mount this beauty and went with a European style mount instead. She said she needed one bigger than me before she hung a shoulder mount on the wall. That’s my wife: strong willed, confident, determined, and slightly competitive.

I wouldn’t want it any other way.



Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff


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