With only six hunts under her belt, Stacy Rogers arrows a trophy buck to be proud of during a hunt last fall in Tippecanoe County. Here's her story! (September 2008)
Stacy Rogers may be new to deer hunting, but her hours of practice and patience paid off big once she came across a trophy 8-pointer in the deer woods.
Photo by Don Pickell.
Growing up, I knew very little about the outdoors let alone deer hunting. However, during the last five years, I have learned to enjoy the outdoors from my boyfriend, Don Pickell. Don has been an avid hunter for the past 25 years. During our time together, I have been told many stories from Don and his twin brother, Dan, about all of the many deer they have taken over the years.
Hunting is their life. They live it 24/7. It all started when they were 11 years old and their dad introduced them to the sport. Deer hunting has since been their passion. To hear the excitement of hunting and the passion these two guys had for it made me want to get out and experience it for myself.
It all began in mid-July of 2007 when Don started preparing his stands; he asked me to come along and help out. We went out in the hot July heat and hung stands, trimmed out shooting lanes, and raked paths to the stands for easy access. This wasn't just a day job. It went on for several weeks. After all, these two avid sportsmen have around 60 stands placed around three counties. We worked three to four hours every evening to make sure things were in order. Believe me when I say I found out first-hand how much work goes into preparing for your hunt!
After watching Don shoot his bow for the last several years, I thought it would be fun to learn to shoot one myself. I kept telling him how much I wanted to shoot a bow, but he never really took me seriously. Then one day he was telling some friends at work that I was interested in a bow. One of them mentioned he had a bow he had bought for his wife that she never used. His friend offered to bring it in for us to look at.
This time I would be on my own. Being dropped off to do it alone this time was really different. To say I was a little nervous would have been an understatement.
Don brought the bow home the first week in October and immediately went to work on it. He put on new sights, a drop-away rest and a new peep sight. Having no experience shooting a bow, I began practicing with the help of Don, of course. He taught me how to hold the bow, how to aim it, and how to follow through with my shot. It wasn't long before I was consistently hitting the bull's-eye at 20 yards. After about two weeks of seeing me hitting the target, Don told me it was time to buy a tag. Before this, he had no intention of taking me out on a bowhunt. The next day I purchased my first deer tag and went out the next day for the first time.
During my first deer hunt, I had a doe and a yearling close to my stand near dark. There wasn't enough light to get a shot. It was exciting, though. The second and third times out hunting were about the same. We moved to another stand and had deer near us but no shot again. The fourth hunt it was drizzling rain. After about an hour into the hunt, we spotted four does that had come out of a bedding area. For well over an hour, we watched them feed in the stubble of a corn field.
My sixth time out in October was a slow night. With only about 45 minutes of light left, I felt as though we wouldn't see anything. It was then that Don tapped me on the shoulder and told me to turn around and get ready. I reached for my bow and drew on a doe passing through at 25 yards behind me. Don decided it wasn't a good shot for me, so I slowly let my bow back down.
The deer walked past us and Don reached for the camcorder. To our surprise, the deer turned back in our direction, only this time on the edge of the field in front us. With my bow still in hand, I waited patiently for the shot.
At 20 yards, I drew my Darton bow and put my pin on her. I took aim and slowly pulled on my release. The arrow went flying; I knew immediately I had a good hit. She took off across the field and then slowed. After a few minutes, she was down. I was in shock and so was Don. I had just shot my first deer ever! I can now say I have experienced buck fever first-hand! My heart was beating so fast and I couldn't breathe. I had to sit down and catch my breath before climbing down from the stand. What excitement! It felt so good!
After a few minutes to catch my breath, we decided to climb down from the tree stand and go take a look at my deer. She was lying about 100 yards across the stubble corn field. We slowly walked up to the doe, still in disbelief of what had just happened. She was a beautiful 120-pound doe, a true trophy for a first bow kill. We began celebrating and making phone calls to let everyone know what I had just done.
Upon taking this doe, I thought I was done. Don was ready to get serious about the up-and-coming rut. A couple of days later, he checked one of his Cuddeback cameras and discovered he had a picture of a nice 135- to 140-inch 8-point buck. He immediately began hunting for this buck. A few days later, he actually saw this buck at 40 yards, but he could not get a clear shot. He had hunted several locations in this area and been optimistic of taking this deer. To my surprise, it was already Nov. 2 and I had not been out again since bagging my doe.
Don called his brother and me. He told us it was time to put some hunting pressure on this buck. He knew the buck was still in the area. On the day of the hunt, the wind was perfect and the plan was set in motion.
This time I would be on my own. Being dropped off to do it alone this time was really different. To say I was a little nervous would have been an understatement. I managed to get to my tree, climbed up into it and settled in. It was a beautiful afternoon. I immediately texted Don on his phone to let him know I was set and OK. It was 3:45 p.m., and Don told me sit back and enjoy the evening.
Time passed and it was now 5:10 p.m., and Don texted me to let me know he just let a small buck pass on by, but there was no sign of the big one. I immediately responded, "There's nothing but squirrels here." He responded, jokingly, "That's what you think." Just a few minutes later, I heard the crunching of leaves off in the distance and what sounded like a deer coming down off the hill behind me.
I turned to my left to see what was coming and waited patiently. That's when I saw him. It was the big one, the trophy buck! From the moment I saw this buck, I knew it was the big one that Don had seen and had pictures of. All I could think was, Oh my God, this is him! He came down the hill slowly behind me. For a moment, I thought to myself, I can't shoot this deer, it's t
he one Don is after.
My advice to other women: Get out and enjoy the outdoors with the guys! It opened up acompletely new and exciting world for me . . .
Slowly the big buck moved closer to my first shooting lane. I hesitated again on reaching for my bow. Although I knew it was the big buck Don was after, I knew I couldn't pass this big one up. I soon reached for my bow and started to draw as the buck neared my second shooting lane. Then, once again, I hesitated. I was deciding whether I should shoot the buck or not shoot it. I decided to draw back and took my time.
This deer was in no hurry to move through the area. It was as if he were posing for me, nibbling around on the ground and all the while standing in my lane. I took a deep breath, took careful aim and slowly pulled the release. The buck instantly bolted out of there as fast as he could. I felt like it was a good hit, but everything happened so quickly I wasn't sure.
After watching Don shoot his bow for the last several years, I thought it would be fun to learn to shoot one myself. I kept telling him how much I wanted to shoot a bow, but he never really took me seriously.
My heart was racing so fast at this point and I was shaking like a leaf. I tried to calm down long enough to send a text message to Don. I told him I had just shot that big 8. He said back, "Yeah, right." I responded, "No really, I shot the big one!" Not knowing where the deer had gone, I sat in my stand for a while so I could calm down.
While sitting there taking in all that had just happened, I glanced down the field and thought I saw another deer. I drew up my binoculars to take a closer look. All of the sudden I was in shock all over again! My heart practically stopped! To my amazement, what I saw was the big buck I had just shot standing in the stubble corn field about 100 yards away. I could visibly see the spot where I had hit him and I knew it was my buck that was standing there. It seemed so close but so far! Would it become my buck of a lifetime so early in my hunting career?
I once again sent Don a message; he replied to keep a close eye on the buck. Light was fading fast, but I saw the buck lie down in the corn field. Don soon sent me a text and said to quietly back out. After waiting until it was dark, I climbed out of my tree and made my way out of the woods as quietly as possible. I waited for Don to pick me up. After discussing what had happened, we decided to leave the trophy buck alone and wait until the next day to pick up where we left off.
The next day we were both excited that we would find my deer lying in the cut corn field where I had last seen him. To our disappointment, my buck was not there. We began backtracking the blood trail to see what had really happened. We found good blood all the way out to where he had lain down. We were in disbelief; there wasn't more sign anywhere. The only thing Don said we could do was to keep searching. For three hours, we looked everywhere that we thought the buck might have gone, but still we found nothing. Now feeling frustrated and disappointed, I looked to Don and said, "Now what?"
He thought for a minute and said there's only one thing left to do and that was to check the creek in the opposite direction from where we were looking. From his years of experience, he thought the buck might have headed to water.
After a short search, I could not believe my eyes! There the buck, my buck, was lying in the creek bed. My big 8-point buck! Don and I were both in shock. With only two weeks of learning how to shoot a bow and being out only seven times, I had harvested both a big doe and a Pope and Young (P&Y) buck. No one could believe it, and neither could I. This experience is something I will never forget. I can hardly wait until next year. Then again, Don said he's not showing me where any other of his hot stands are located. We'll have to see about that!
* * *
Indiana may not be known for big deer like our neighboring state of Illinois, but they are out there. It's just a matter of doing your homework, so to speak -- getting out and asking for permission to hunt a piece of land, rigging tree stands and raking out paths to the stands long before the season begins and lots of patience.
I've learned first-hand how much patience it takes to harvest a nice deer and how lucky I was to have taken such a beautiful animal. It's a lot of being in the right place at the right time. Taking the time to learn a little about the habits of the deer, such as knowing the areas they might bed in and how to approach the stand without being noticed is also of vital importance.
Other things to take into consideration on hunts include wind direction and knowing what stands are better hunted in the mornings as opposed to the evenings. Also, the one-buck rule that Indiana went to has been receiving plenty of positive talk from our hunters. Hunters agree that they are seeing and taking bigger deer. The one-buck rule has meant many hunters are letting smaller bucks mature. With our Illinois and Ohio neighbors taking big deer, there is no reason, if we all learn to manage our herds, we couldn't harvest big deer as well.
My advice to other women: Get out and enjoy the outdoors with the guys! It opened up a completely new and exciting world for me, with experiences I never even dreamed about. I have enjoyed it all.
Even if you don't harvest a deer, just the excitement of seeing such a beautiful animal in its own world is a sight all its own. Ask to just go sit in the stand once with your husband or boyfriend, even if just to watch and listen to the sounds of nature. It's so peaceful and pure. That's how it all started for me and it's only the beginning. I am looking forward to this season's preparation already. I can hardly wait to get to the woods this fall season and beyond!
(Editor's Note: Stacy Rogers uses a Darton bow with 45-pound pull and 65 percent let off. Bob Graber of Peru, Indiana, officially scored her fine 8-point P&Y buck.)