Father, daughter bond over girl’s first deer
Ten-year-old Alexa Singer had been sitting in a ladder double tree stand all day near Somerset with her father. It was nearing dark and she was a little disappointed. It had been a long nine hours in the stand with not much activity, and the first day of the youth mentor hunt (Nov. 22) was drawing to a close.
As they were getting ready to call it a day, the Hillside Elementary fourth-grader saw something that makes every hunter’s pulse race: deer movement.
“We were sitting there waiting,” Alexa said, who admitted to being so excited at the sight of the deer that she was shaking. “But then we saw some deer walking along the tree line.”
At first, the deer were moving along quietly, nosing the ground. But then a big buck walked toward the Singers and stood looking around. It was standing in the perfect position for Alexa to try and make a killing shot, about 200 yards away.
“I took my gun off safety and tried to find it in the scope,” Alexa said. “I found it in the scope and put the crosshairs on the shoulder. Then I squeezed the trigger.”
The shot wasn’t pulled off as hoped. The gun didn’t fire, and Alexa had to reload and try again. The deer’s acute hearing picked up the sound of the attempted trigger squeeze and went on high alert. Alexa said she could hardly breathe as she rushed to reload before her chance slipped away on four hooves.
“I reloaded and lined it back up. I squeezed the trigger and the deer kicked its back legs up really high,” Alexa said breathlessly. “My dad kept saying ‘You got it, you got it!’ I cried I was so excited.”
Of course Alexa wanted to go see if she had killed the deer, an impressive nine-point buck that her dad Ryan estimated weighs well over 200 pounds. But Ryan told her they had to wait, to make sure the buck died, so they didn’t spook it and make it start running if it was still alive.
After what probably seemed like an interminable wait for Alexa, they climbed out of the stand and walked toward the area where the buck had fled. They found a small amount of blood on the ground.
“We found some blood, but it wasn’t much, where the deer had been sniffing around,” Ryan said. “Then we found a bunch of blood. It didn’t even go 10 yards.”
Alexa turned around from the blood trail and when she saw the buck, she admitted to screaming with joy. She nudged it with her foot, and the beast was indeed dead.
“I was excited and kind of nervous and shaking and breathing real hard,” Alexa said when she first saw the buck.
But Ryan had taught his girl well. They had practiced breath control while shooting, memorized the best places on a deer’s body to make killing shots and pored over photos of deer from game cameras. When her time came, Alexa made a double lung killing shot with her brand new Savage .243 and her dad couldn’t be more proud. He didn’t even mind dragging it the 300 yards to the vehicle.
“It was by far the best hunt I’ve ever been on,” Ryan said. “We look forward to making it a lifelong tradition.”
As part of that tradition, Ryan dubbed Alexa’s cheeks from her first kill with spots of the deer’s blood. The buck has been taken to Longview Taxidermy (1247 County Road I in Hudson), where it will be mounted in an alert, sideways stance, the way it was positioned when Alexa shot it.
For Ryan, hunting with his daughter is a huge bonding experience.
“It’s not only teaching kids about the outdoors and an appreciation for the outdoors and hunting, it’s a great father/daughter experience,” Ryan said.
While it will be hard to top her first hunt and her first buck, Alexa said she is looking forward to more pheasant, deer and duck hunts with her dad.
“It sure was worth the wait,” Alexa said about sitting for nine hours in the tree stand that day.
For more information on youth mentor hunt rules and regulations, visit dnr.wi.gov/education/outdoorSkills/mentor.html.