July 03, 2023
I was born to be in the outdoors. I grew up on a farm in Michigan to a single mom, and my grandfather taught me all about farming, growing crops and raising beef cattle. I showed beef cattle through 4-H, and when I was 10 my mom signed me up for shooting sports. The club where I shot 3D and league at was my first job! That’s where I learned how to shoot a shotgun, and I started shooting archery right away. I shot 3D targets for five years before my mom gave me the go ahead to hunt. I harvested my first buck that first season, a nice healthy 5-point. My passion grew from there. I started putting in food plots and learning more about what it took to harvest mature deer, including scent control, land topography and land management.
At an early age, I started trapping wild game around the farm. I am self-taught and learned by reading books, articles and lots of trial and error. Trapping is like Christmas to me. Every single day I check my line is Christmas morning. I love checking my lines on cool crisp mornings, when the ground is still crunchy, birds chirp, and the warm sun hits my face. Whether I have catches or empty sets I just love being out there. While living in Michigan, I even started switching gears towards waterfowl hunting. I trained my first Labrador, Charlie, to be my hunting partner. He gave me five great years of partnership, before his passing in 2019.
In 2018, I moved to Ohio, and the following year my husband, Jonathan, and I started a wildlife control company out of Cincinnati. I’m able to trap nuisance wildlife 24/7, 365 days a year! I also repair damages done by wildlife, remove roadkill and install preventative measures on homes. I’m always striving to inspire more women to join this line of work! If I’m not trapping, I’m hunting. I’ve hunted big game all over the USA. I love chasing game with my bow, as that’s my primary hunting method of choice. Very rarely will I opt for a firearm. It’s just a primal feeling being able to harvest any species with a bow!
I’ve been blessed countless times over the years with my successes, but the 2021 hunting season just blew my mind. I was able to fill an Idaho spring bear tag on a blonde phase black bear in June, tagged out in Colorado on a beautiful cow elk in September, and then in November I harvested the “Megan Buck” — a 170 2/8 typical whitetail. To say I had an amazing year is an understatement.
ENCOUNTERING A GIANT
Let’s start at the beginning. The deer we called the “Megan Buck” was also known as “Hercules” around our neighborhood. He was a resident deer on our farm his entire life, but it wasn’t until 2020 that I started chasing him. He had always run around with a main frame 8-pointer, but his pattern was abnormal and hard to predict in 2020. He was a main frame 10-point that year, but with a 6- or 7-inch eye guard coming off the right burr. He was just an outstanding buck, and I told everyone he was off limits, at least on our property! I wanted him.
I hunted hard and had multiple en- counters with him in 2020, but only when all the variables were right. The closest I had him was 90 yards, and he came out, looked both ways across the opening, and slowly walked through the clearing into a thicket. I still remember that day. When he looked down in my direction it felt like he looking right through me!
If I was shooting at the Total Archery Challenge, I would have taken the shot, but in good conscience I could never take a long shot like that on a living animal. There are too many variables, and I’m not willing to injure a deer I wanted so bad.
Archery season was a bust that year. I was dead set on the big one, so I let plenty of other bucks pass. Come muzzleloader season, I found myself in a similar situation as once again I encountered the giant. This time, he was about 350 yards out on top of a hill, just as the sun was setting. We were losing light fast, and he was pushing four other bucks around like he was king of the hill. The giant was taunting me. Finally, the four other bucks turned towards me and start making their way up the field. But the big boy didn’t follow. He just stood there, frozen in time like a statue.
The four other bucks came into range with five minutes to spare before shooting light was over, and I just put down my muzzleloader.
My last in-person encounter with the giant buck was at the end of 2020. It was freezing cold, and I figured I would just take a doe or two since the homeowner wanted to thin the herd. About 200 yards out from where I was sitting, there was a power line over CRP with a little swale of water. During that hunt, I spotted the buck — once again standing in the setting sun. I prayed he would make it through those last few weeks of the hunting season. He was healthy, and I knew as long as no one shot him he would be there the following season!
A NEW SEASON BECKONS
Let’s fast forward the story to 2021, specifically the summertime when antlers were growing. The Megan Buck was back and once again hanging with the big 8-pointer from the season prior. And by then, my target had blown up into an absolute stud buck.
By September, his rack had 11 scorable points, with incredible, giant brow tines. His brow tines had me hooked. They were long, symmetrical, and thick. The buck’s body looked as if it had doubled in size. His antlers had grown wide, and his mass was undeniable. Once again, my fire was lit, and the chase was on. We planted plots, managed our bedding areas differently, and made sure the buck had everything he needed to stick around. By the time Halloween arrived, the deer activity on our Covert Wireless cameras was undeniable. The rut was in full swing!
Billy, one of our best friends from Michigan, was coming into town the evening of Nov. 3. Jonathan and I had hunted the day prior and not seen anything. The next morning the wind was so bad that it was no use going out there, so we hashed out a new plan. Jonathan and I both had jobs to go check, and we figured we would get them done faster working together. So that’s what we did! I remember jokingly saying: “Watch when we get to our first job; he’s going to be on camera at my stand!” Like clockwork, at 11:00 a.m., my cell phone dinged. A text from my wireless camera read: “Megan Stand 1 new picture.”
It was the giant — headed into bed for the day. To say we rushed through the rest of the day is an understatement. On the way back, I told Jonathan I wanted him to go sit at a new tree stand that he’d hung just for this buck. “No! You go sit there,” he said. We pulled into the farm at 3:00 p.m.
We got ready, and I decided to shoot my bow. I just had a gut feeling that something was weird. I’m so glad I did. I was shooting consistently low about 6-7 inches. Without having the right tools and being very frustrated, I decided to write new 20-yard and 30-yard marks on my adjustable tape, which fixed the problem temporarily. Once I got my bow sighted back in, I hopped on our Gator 4x4 around 4:00 p.m, and Jonathan drove me to the bottom. We wished each other luck, kissed goodbye, and I made my way to the new stand.
I knew the giant buck was bedded close to my stand site. But there was also a good chance Jonathan could see him. He’d decided to hunt a nearby blind, where the buck had also been showing up frequently. There was a strong chance one of us was going to get a shot at the buck we’d chased for so long.
Jonathan gave me a new bow hanger to screw in when I got up in stand. There was one already in the tree, but I used it to hang my rattling antlers and other gear. I tried for what felt like eternity (but was really like 5 minutes) to get the new bow hanger to screw in. I was stabbing the tree on the right, and then I’d switch thinking the left would be easier. I finally gave up and decided I’d either just hold my bow or hang it on the one that was already there!
As I started to pull my bow up from the ground, I kept knocking into my rattling antlers; they were just clank- ing away. Finally, I got my bow pulled up and knocked an arrow. And about that time...I caught a glimpse of a deer’s shadow to my left about 35 yards out. I grabbed my bow and maneuvered into position. I could see it was a buck, and I could see part of his right main beam. Instantly, I was committed. It was a shooter, with a thick rack that went past his ear!
I didn’t know what deer I was looking at until I was at full draw. That’s when the buck stepped out from the large hickory to my left. In that instant, he was at 20 yards and headed straight to me, so I put my top pin on his back above the left shoulder blade. He wasn’t stopping, and all I could think was how to place a quick humane shot. I didn’t want to risk injuring the buck, so I dropped my pin to the front left side of his brisket, inside of the shoulder. He stopped and turned his head to the right, opening my shot up.
I let my breath out and released my arrow. I watched my arrow penetrate directly where my pin was placed, and it knocked him completely down onto his left side! The leaves were sprayed crimson red as he shot up and ran off.
I stopped breathing as I watched him make his last jump before disappearing into the honeysuckle and wild rose. I felt like I was going to fall out of the tree. I instantly called Jonathan, who had just gotten into the blind. And I lost it. I couldn’t get my words out. I told Jonathan: “I just killed the big one.” I couldn’t stop crying! He asked if I wanted him to come over to my stand. Of course, I said yes. I could see the blood trail from my tree, and I ranged where the buck had stood — it was only 13 yards. I knew I placed a good shot on him. Jonathan hurried over while I just stood in my tree, balling crying.
Jonathan and I decided to look since the blood trail was so visible. About 15 yards into the track, we stopped and Jonathan said: “I see him!” Both of us started crying out and running to the downed buck. When we arrived at the scene, there laid this beast, this magnificent, beautiful beast of a whitetail. My arrow was sitting perfectly on his belly. I grabbed his antlers, and the shock was so overwhelming!
As I dressed the buck out, I found that my arrow placement severed his aorta, sliced through the right ventricle of his heart, and passed through his right lung, making a devastating injury, bringing him down in 33 yards.
I owe a lot of my success to Jonathan. My husband is my number one fan, and he’s always pushing me to do better and to stop doubting myself as a woman in this outdoor world. He and I worked four years managing this property, selecting deer to pass and which ones were “shooters.” We worked hard together at predator control, food plot management, and to provide our deer with minerals and nutrition all year. We carefully decided on stand placement, and we kept pressure off until the time was right.
We dedicate our lives to the outdoors, not only on properties we hunt but in our daily lives. We are celebrating my success together, because without our teamwork this hunt would have never come together the way it happened!