Editor’s Note: Montana reader Mary Hally shared the deer hunting story about her first archery kill on Game & Fish’s Camera Corner bragging board. Here’s her recollection from the October 2016 hunt south of Whitehall, Mont.
By Mary Hally
I started out my second season of archery last fall. I had practiced for a year now with my bow and was determined to get something.
Every Friday I would work through lunch to get off work an hour early to drive an hour and a half, making sure I was getting there in time for an evening hunt. I would spend all weekend hunting, and then leave at 5:30 am on Monday morning to drive back to Bozeman and go straight to work. A few days I would drive over during the week to get a week day hunt in.
I wanted my first bow kill and was not giving up. I had a huge buck that kept taunting me. He would not get close until it was dark. The few times he did come close, he had his “body guards.”
He had a small two-point buck that would get close to me, not allowing me to move or I would spook them all. This buck I named “strap.”
“The buck made his way to the trail and started to come right to us. I turned to my hunting buddy, gave him the nod. I was going to shoot this buck. He kept coming closer; we had the range finder on him. I pulled back my bow. The buck stopped at 7 yards from us. He had no idea we were right there. I put my pin on him and let an arrow fly, perfect shot” — Hunter Mary Hally
He was in velvet, huge and he taunted me so much I wanted him. After a month of hunting, I had to decide to move on and find a different buck.
A week later I got my chance. I was out on an evening hunt on a Monday night. I had left work early for this hunt.
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A huge 5-point buck walks out. My heart was racing. My hunting buddy had the range finder on him. I was comfortable only shooting at 40 yards, nothing more than that. He got to 40 yards. I pulled back, put my pin on him and shot.
My mind was racing and going so fast I forgot that I should have probably got him to stop before shooting. I hit him, but barely — arrow didn’t stick, it got his butt. He ran off.
I instantly started to cry. The rush from the hunt hit me at once. I was disappointed in myself. But that is the way hunting goes. I was worried I hurt him.
I waited a few days made sure I saw him before I went after another dear. I saw him from a distance. After I knew he was okay I went forward with hunting. If he had been injured or died because of me, I would have not used my tag on another deer.
The next weekend I got back out. The weather was crappy, it was a down pour. We went out in the dark, in the rain and thought let’s go look at least for maybe an evening hunt. The rain came to a slight drizzle.
We sat down on the ground by a fence post and watched nothing in sight. Then a 4-point buck walks out from some trees. We were sitting right on a trail; it was too late to move to hide anywhere. We had no coverage besides this one fence post for me and my hunting buddy.
“When I took my picture with him, the scenery was an amazing back drop and my smile was huge. As we finally got back to the truck it started to rain again. It cleared up just for my hunt.” — Hunter Mary Hally
The buck made his way to the trail and started to come right to us. I turned to my hunting buddy, gave him the nod. I was going to shoot this buck. He kept coming closer; we had the range finder on him. I pulled back my bow. The buck stopped at 7 yards from us. He had no idea we were right there. I put my pin on him and let an arrow fly, perfect shot. He only went 20 yards before falling to the ground. I was so excited. I was smiling cheek to cheek. I did it, first bow kill.
I went over to the buck. He was not the biggest buck I had seen all year. Getting a buck at 7 yards while sitting on the ground is a pretty nice first bow kill.
The rain had stopped as I shot him. Cleared up enough for us to field-dress him and get him out of there. When I took my picture with him, the scenery was an amazing back drop and my smile was huge. As we finally got back to the truck it started to rain again. It cleared up just for my hunt.
Now that I have my first kill under my belt with my bow this fall, I will go after strap again, hoping he made it through winter. But better yet, I am ready for an elk. The buck is now on my wall as a European mount the arrow lying across the antlers. I am beyond proud of myself for the hours or practice, hours of being in the field, and not giving up.