July 05, 2023
Life in the military moved the Messenger family from North Carolina to Fort Riley, Kansas, in February of 2022. Devyn, her husband and four daughters soon found themselves in an unfamiliar area. However, Devyn is into hunting, the outdoors and photography, so she would spend nice spring days on Fort Riley public land photographing the resident elk herd. Since it was the time of year whitetail shed antlers begin dropping, Devyn says she stumbled upon a few nice antlers; but she couldn’t figure out why they were there.
“This got me interested more and more of the whereabouts of the bucks in the area,” says Devyn.
Later in the summer after she put out trail cameras, Devyn received pictures of several really nice bucks. One of which would become her target buck: a big 7x7 typical. Being a mom of four daughters (ages 4, 6, 8, and 12), Devyn occasionally had a hard time getting to the woods. Determined to be afield as much as possible, Devyn would often take all the kids with her hunting. The three younger ones would sit in a pop-up blind within close range of Devyn and her oldest daughter as they sat in a double ladder stand.
Devyn was in her stand on Nov. 4 when her target buck showed up, but he was at 35 yards and no shot was offered. Sitting at home that night she figured she’d go back to the same spot where she encountered her target buck. The next morning was calm and cold. Since she is originally from the South, Devyn was questioning her decision to hunt. Her husband was with her in the tree that morning with a Go Pro and rattling antlers.
“My husband just hit the rattling antlers together for about 40 seconds, and we instantly heard brush breaking from across the road down in a swampy ditch. Our stand was set up relatively close to a minimum maintenance road, but through the brush it was kind of hard to see clearly. I heard his hooves hitting the road as he was running down it towards our location,” says Devyn.
At first, Devyn didn’t know the buck was her target, she just knew he had a lot of points. She actually whispered to her husband, “He’s a shooter.” Devyn readied herself for the shot, and as the buck slowed down, she told her husband she was going to stop him with a grunt.
“Slightly quartering to me, I put the crosshairs on the buck’s chest and squeezed the trigger. It looked like a balloon exploding,” Devyn says. “Blood was everywhere instantly. My husband was sure it was a good hit as we reviewed the footage. We decided to wait about 30 minutes before blood trailing.”
After an easy-to-follow blood trail, the couple found Devyn’s buck piled up about 100 yards away in the thickest of brush and weeds. Her husband saw it first, and he turned back and gave Devyn a big hug and told her, “I’m so proud of you.”
“My first reaction when I saw it as I got closer was, ‘He is really big!’ I then began shaking,” says Devyn. With towering tines and the right G2 measuring 17 inches, Devyn’s buck green scores 203 net. Not bad for a first buck and from public land!