Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo have been together for numerous hunts, most on their "Archer’s Choice" or new "The Choice" TV shows, but Vicki didn’t need any help harvesting her first buck.
With Ralph hunting in Texas, Vicki was at their Lanark, Ill., homestead when he called asking her to check their property for buck activity.
“I was into hunting, but not in going and checking all the scrap lines and rubs,” she said, “so I took the dog for a walk and checked. There were scraps everywhere.”
Vicki decided to grab her bow and venture out on her own, describing the impromptu hunt as rather remarkable, even funny when she looks back on it.
So she climbed into the stand on a misty Halloween almost two decades ago, and soon a group of does began to walk by but they nowhere close enough to shoot.
“I heard my first buck grunt and then I saw him, but he was real far away,” she said. “I started trying to make a grunt noise out of my mouth, which probably didn’t sound anything like it. I’m making some noise and the buck probably figures there’s a goose stuck in a tree.”
She could see the deer as it made its way through some timber then lost him in the trees. Drawing on her experiences hunting with Ralph, her next attempt to bring in the buck might have done the trick.
“I was taking the release from my bow and rubbing it up and down on the tree trying to make it sound like antlers,” she said. “Curiosity brought him in, and I shot him.
“I called one of our buddies and had him help me get it back from the woods. The next day, I got Ralph from the airport and didn’t tell him. I bit my tongue the whole time, which is almost impossible for me to do.”
Vicki said she wanted Ralph to be surprised. She purposefully placed a garbage can so he would move it back to the side of the house and discover the hanging buck. It worked, but he was incredulous.
“ Whose deer is that?”
“Seriously, who’s buck is that?”
Ralph remained skeptical, thinking it was some Halloween trick.
“I was like, ‘Come on, you didn’t do it,’ because if I wasn’t there I didn’t think she would be able to do it,” he said.
His mother walked out about then and gave Vicki verification.
“Mom, who’s is it?” Ralph asked.
When it sunk it, Vicki said Ralph gave her a big hug. Despite 19 years passing, she still recalls the little details of her first buck.
“That hunt, I will never forget, because of the way it happened. I can remember all of them -- a huge one in Colorado that went over 200 inches -- but the first buck always has a special place in my heart.
“Even though it was a little 8-pointer, he was huge to me.”