You ever just need a weekend where you can hang with our friends and just let all the cares of the world slip away? Everyone has. Those weekends for me, are few and far and in between. Being a full-time working mom and wife, free time isn’t easy to come by. But when the opportunity to have “deer camp” presented itself with my Wildlife Women family, I had to jump and run. I had never experienced deer camp before, but I had heard the stories. Stories of fun, laughter, and chasing those whitetails with friends, made my heart race with excitement and I knew that I had to be apart of it. In late August Wildlife Women was offered the opportunity to hunt some private land in Perry County, Kentucky so I seized the moment and set us a date for mid-September. This amazing weekend was going to happen and happen soon!
We all formed a group on Facebook and the planning process began. Tina Thornsberry, our amazing chapter leader for Letcher and Harlan County took the lead on scouting out the area and getting our deer spots set up. We ordered new deer feeders and we all pitched in on feeding supplies and other items we needed, blinds, deer cams, etc. I was super pumped when I found out that our Chapter Leader from Alabama, Kristin Carlisle, was going to be joining us. We had never met her and what a great way to welcome her to the family! My double blessing came when I found out my Mom was going to tag along for our weekend of fun. This was going to be her first taste of deer hunting and I couldn’t be more excited!
We all worked hard getting our camp organized and ready for our weekend of fun and hunting. The night we all arrived at deer camp you could tell we were all excited! Hugging, laughter, and smiles filled the cabin! As we all unpacked our vehicles, I couldn’t tell which we had more of, food or deer hunting gear HAHAHA…I did know we wasn’t going hungry and if you couldn’t kill a deer with what we all had brought you might as well head back to the house. Once we were all settled in it was like we had all known each other our whole lives. Hunting stories were shared, life stories were shared, and planning started for our hunt first thing that morning. Around 2 in the morning we decided to finally catch a few zzz’s before we had to be up at 5. After all, we did plan to leave camp by 5:30 a.m. that morning, lol.
With three hunting spots and six women in attendance it was easy to figure out who was going where that morning. Me and my momma teamed up in one blind, Erin Stump and Kristin teamed up in one, and Melissa Blair and Michelle Ralston hit the other. We all got up, put our camo and face paint on, sprayed down with scent blockers, and headed out to the wood. I will never forget this morning. Like I had said before, this was my Momma’s first ever deer hunt. She didn’t take a bow and she wasn’t there to harvest a deer, she was just there to take it all in and see if this was something she wanted to try. As we were walking out to our deer spot I remember thinking is this really what it feels like. The woman who has always taught me in life, I am finally able to teach her something that I love. I get to show her what the world of hunting really is all about and why it pulls at my heart strings. I never felt such a feeling before and it just took me back for a few seconds.
The morning was perfect! it was cool walking in, there was no rain, and the wind was a steady breeze. We got into our blind before day break and settled in. Within the hour we heard noise coming from behind us. I knew right off what it was, but I could tell from the look of amazement in my Momma’s eyes she had never heard that noise before and she didn’t know what it was. I got to tell her that it was an elk bugling and they were actually pretty close to us. That was it, she was hooked. She kept searching the windows of the blind hoping at the chance to see one. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see it, but the sound was all we needed. Later on, turkeys gobbled in the distance and around 10 we had some deer heading our way. We could see four doe walking in a near by field. We watched them for several minutes until they walked out of site. We didn’t have any more luck that morning, but that’s okay. Sometimes hunting isn’t all about the harvest, it’s about showing someone else the sport and introducing them to something they have never done, and I had done just that.
The other ladies had also seen some deer that morning, but nothing that any of them could get a shot on. It was okay though, because we had already made plans for two more hunts before heading home Sunday afternoon. We all headed back to camp around noon and Momma fixed us a breakfast of champions! Our bellies were full, and a nap was in our future.
After resting we all got out our bows and shot a few rounds in some targets outside. By this time, two more ladies joined us. Chapter Leaders, Linda Campbell and Samantha Lewis had joined the fun! Kristin, the photographer of the group, captured some great pictures of us and we spent the afternoon sharing more hunting stories and laughter.
That evening, disaster struck for me. We had decided that I was going to hunt with Erin, Michelle and Sam was going to hunt together, and Kristin and Melissa were heading out together. By the time Erin and I had made it to our blind, a stomach virus had hit me. My three little ones that week had suffered through it, and unfortunately shared it with me. I quickly made the decision to head on back out and not ruin the hunt for Erin.
And here is where I take over…this is Erin! Cassie left me in the blind. It wasn’t long before a spike came in. He was in full velvet. He came into the corn pile and ate, took a nap, ate some more, napped some more… Thankfully for him, it was too early in the season to fill my buck tag. I enjoyed watching him. He had a young doe come in to play with him. And they left as quietly as they came in. The other girls saw some out of range. We all piled in the cabin, for burgers and hotdogs on the grill.
The next morning, poor Kristen fell ill to good ole’ Kentucky allergies with a headache. With an 8 hour drive home, she opted out of the morning hunt. So Melissa, Michelle and I loaded up determined to get Michelle’s first deer. Before daybreak, we had action. That same spike that had taunted me the evening before was at this blind. For an hour we watched, waiting for shooting light, and just as daylight fell…he walked away.
Just like that spike, we all walked away from deer camp Sunday afternoon. All headed in different directions, but forever changed from the weekend. Wildlife Women is one of the most diverse groups of women you have ever seen. But we all share the same heart, the same passion, and the same dream to share that with women all over the world…