Deadly Determination: Hunting While Pregnant

Deadly Determination: Hunting While Pregnant

Pregnancy can't stop a hardcore woman from capturing her fall 2017 deer goals.


How many women do you know who've gone bowhunting when nine months pregnant? I know exactly one: Crystal Vomacka of South Dakota. Vomacka vowed that, no matter what, 2017 would be the year she'd fulfill her whitetail-hunting dreams.

Vomacka started bowhunting seven years ago. Despite her effort and passion, it wasn't until last November that she finally nabbed her first buck with a bow while carrying a child in her womb. Here's her story.

Season Opens

Eight-month-pregnant Crystal Vomacka began bowhunting immediately over South Dakota's 2017 archery opener and into the following weeks. She hunted every chance she got, even taking her 4-year-old daughter along on several outings when husband Aaron had to work.

"I was determined," Vomacka said. "Aaron had positioned a treestand for me to hunt from, and I had my eye on a particular 4x4 buck that would score 150-155 inches. One evening he wandered within bow range, but I completely missed him. I wondered if my belly had gotten in the way, and I almost gave up right then and there. A couple weeks later, I decided that pregnancy wasn't going to stop me from doing what I love."

Up to the Challenge

Vomacka said that being pregnant involved many challenges, including fitting into camo clothing. To my knowledge, camo-clothing companies don't even produce maternity bowhunting apparel.

"I wore some bib overalls and just let my belly hang out," she laughed.

During the last week of October, Vomacka hunted every single evening after work.

"I just wasn't seeing anything," she said. "It was difficult to keep a positive attitude, but I didn't lose sight of my goals."

Persistence Pays

On Nov. 2 at nine months pregnant, Vomacka headed afield to bowhunt.

After seven years of bowhunting for whitetails, South Dakota's Crystal Vomacka connected with this nice 4x4 from the ground while 9 months pregnant. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Vomacka)

"I told Aaron that I had to try harder," she said. "I told him I had to get something before the baby arrived, because I knew my bow season would be over due to a C-section procedure."

I assume very few expecting mothers can relate with that level of bowhunting drive and determination.

That evening, Vomacka spotted some bucks in the distance while approaching her stand.

"I crept up behind some cedar trees and hunkered down," she said. "One buck, a nice 4x4, was about 100 yards away, and he watched me disappear behind the cedars. Obviously, I thought he would run away, but he didn't. So, I nocked an arrow and continued watching him."

Oddly, the buck made a beeline toward the cedars Vomacka was hiding in.

"I soon realized he wasn't going to turn around," she recalled. "He was either curious as to what I was, or he mistook me for another buck and was coming to fight me. I dropped to me knees and drew my bow, expecting that he'd pass by me broadside. However, he kept angling my way and appeared to be ready to charge. He was 15 yards and closing when I released my arrow."

On impact, the buck backed up, then circled before expiring 50 feet away.

"Once he fell, another smaller buck appeared, and he too was coming at me with the same posture and intentions as my buck had, so I waved my bow to scare him away," she told. "I've never had anything like this happen in the past. We spend all sorts of time and money on treestands, ground blinds, etc., and this all happened in 20 minutes at eye-level. It was an adrenaline rush!"

Under the Knife

Just four days following her successful bowhunt, Vomacka underwent a rigorous and painful C-section.

"I didn't expect to feel the things I felt," she said. "I could feel tugging and pulling'¦almost like they were pulling my ribs out."

Still, the result was a healthy little boy. However, the days following the C-section were "rough going," as Vomacka explained it.

The worst part was that she knew firearms season was opening soon. Yes, she had deer on her mind despite what she'd just been through.

"I knew my job was to relax and take care of my baby," she said. "The hospital provided me with a belly wrap, and once I was able to tighten it up enough, I decided it was time to go out hunting with my rifle. My first time out was only a week and a half post C-section."

Post C-Section Monster

Regardless of her determination, Vomacka certainly had limitations.

Less than two weeks after a C-section procedure, Crystal Vomacka endured pain and many other challenges to pursue her whitetail dreams. Her incredible resolve yielded this bruiser 158-incher on the final evening of South Dakota's firearms season. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Vomacka)

"I prefer to hunt from stands and blinds to take advantage of natural deer movement, but I was unable to do that," she shared. "I mostly had to sit in the vehicle and watch from a distance for deer to stalk. I saw very few deer, but I did pass up a heavy 3x3 and a few other decent bucks. I'd taken some 120- and 130-class bucks with my rifle in seasons past, but this year I wanted to wait for something larger, even if that meant not filling my tag."

Some days proved quite painful and difficult for Vomacka, but she knew her limits — resting when she needed rest, hunting when she could hunt.

She and husband Aaron finally encountered a buck of interest on the final morning of the season.

"I stalked approximately 600 yards across a pasture and hunkered in some trees, hoping he'd come my way," she told. "Of course, he stayed on the adjacent property. Later on, some neighbors to the north fired a shot, and the noise spooked the buck. So, we headed home for lunch.

"I told Aaron I was going to spend the evening in that same spot," Vomacka continued. "He agreed to take our children, and off I went. It was a blessing that I even made it out there, because I got a flat tire on my way. I waited about an hour for the tire to be fixed, and I finally made it to the property around 4:30 p.m. Once I neared the location where we'd seen the big buck that morning, I hunkered in some bushes and began waiting."

Two does quickly appeared across the property line.

"Once the sun started dipping toward the horizon, I heard several shots, but no bucks were moving in my area," Vomacka said. "Suddenly, the two does became alert, as if they'd seen another deer."

With her view obstructed by bushes, Vomacka got an adrenaline jolt when a monster buck popped out from behind the cover.

"I thought he was a mule deer at first," she said.

Vomacka didn't know exactly how large the buck was; just that he was a shooter.

A hand-to-beam comparison portrays just how massive the buck's antlers are. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Vomacka)

"He wasn't the buck we'd seen that morning, but he was on my side of the fence, and I knew this was my opportunity," she told. "I had to be very careful with how I used my muscles as I shifted into position. Once I lined up my crosshairs, I shot. I don't know where the bullet went, but the buck just stood there. I quickly reloaded, aimed, and shot a second time. That time, he dropped. At that point, adrenaline was flooding me, and I felt a pain surge through my body to the point that I couldn't move. It felt like a back stab. I called my husband and told him I'd shot a buck, and that I couldn't get up."

Once the back-stabbing pain subsided, Vomacka rose and ventured out to the downed buck.

"I couldn't have been prouder of him," she said. "The antler sticking up from the grass looked like a moose paddle with all the mass. I'll never forget that moment."

One Hardcore Woman

Through a difficult chain of events, Vomacka killed her first bow buck, bore a son, and then killed the biggest buck of her life with her rifle, a 158-inch monster. Some people believe in luck, but it's obvious that Vomacka believes in hard work and determination, no matter the cost. Those values yielded a season she'll be talking about for years to come.

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