11-year-old Addison Shelby from Aiken, SC has been looking forward to the 2023 season since December. What she wasn’t ready for was all the hard work leading up to this season. Addison worked throughout the summer helping plant food plots, hanging stands, and all of the not so fun stuff that you have to do prior to season.
Once season began she couldn’t wait to hit the woods. The warm mornings and sweaty afternoons were less than ideal to her, but she continued to hunt. This particular piece of property has held good numbers of deer, so hunts were usually not so bad seeing deer nearly every time. Addison was getting trigger happy. Never have taken a deer before, each big doe and small buck was looking more “appetizing” to her. I assured her that patience pays off, and she’d get a good buck at some point.
The first few weeks of October were challenging to say the least, with several of her “target” bucks showing their faces but not offering shot opportunities. Addison passed on nearly 10 smaller bucks in hopes at the chance at one that was on her list. For about a week the buck sightings died down, and once again her patience was wearing thin. She started wanting to go less, and it seemed like her hopes were burning out.
The buck activity started picking up again on camera, with some chasing happening and several of her targets appearing again after a couple week hiatus. On the afternoon of November 7th, she climbed into my truck in car line after school and asked “which way is the wind blowing for Stand 2?”
I assured her the wind was perfect for that spot, but that’s not where we’ve been seeing the bucks on camera. She replied “well today is the day, I want to hunt stand #2.”
We rushed home to get her TC .243, threw her boots in the truck, and we headed towards Monetta, SC in northern Aiken County where our hunting land is located. Still in her school clothes, we made our way to her favorite stand.
It had been warm a few days leading up to that Tuesday, and with the afternoon sun in our faces, sweating was on the menu. Shortly after getting settled in, we had a family of pigmy wasps run us out. After taking care of that problem, we got settled back in hoping to at least see some deer.
Five minutes in, we had a pair of yearlings show up, almost frolicking like two school age kids. We watched them for nearly 10 minutes when a few bigger does began to show. We watched deer skirt the edge of the opening, browsing on the grasses and what was left of the acorns.
Daylight was slowly turning to darkness when I spotted a deer standing down a draw to the right. She pulled up her .243 and found it in the scope, almost squealing when she realized it was one of the deer on her target list. Her excitement quickly turned to disappointment because he was on the neighboring property, and colors and shapes were disappearing as fast as the sun.
One of the does that we had been watching earlier was still hanging out and turned to make her way towards us. Once she moved, the buck put his nose to the ground and a chase ensued. He chased her back and forth until he finally made his way across the property line. With daylight almost non existent, and Addison trembling and breathing hard from an extreme case of buck fever, he finally offered a shot. The buck was almost quartering towards us by this point, but she’s practiced taking less than ideal shots, and studied deer vitals like it was a school project.
I asked if she was steady and she replied with a shaky “yes sir”. I told her to squeeze it, and before I could get the word “it” out of my mouth, she pulled the trigger. 115 yards later, the 100gr bullet hit it’s mark dropping the buck in his tracks. It was definitely one of the most memorable hunts I’ve been a part of, and it was even more special to watch my 11-year-old daughter take her first deer.
Bag A Buck Contest
Congratulations to Shelby, who is now in the running for our monthly prize of a free 1-year subscription to Carolina Sportsman Magazine, a Mini Maglite, an 18-ounce Yeti Rambler, a two-pack of Lowcountry Seasonings, as well as our Grand Prize, which includes a 3-year-subscription to Carolina Sportsman Magazine, a 2-day two-person hunt at Cherokee Run Hunting Lodge in Chesterfield, SC, and other prizes to be determined.