March 18, 2011
By Todd Murray
Few experienced hunters can lay claim to having never missed a shot. Meet a deadly distaff hunter who has one deer for every time she's pulled the trigger!
By Todd Murray
Despite growing up in the Midwest and having a shooting background, Diane Herian never expected to become a hunter. Here, she displays four of the seven bucks she's killed in the last nine seasons.
There is a certain amount of pressure when shooting at any good buck, for opportunities at big bucks don't come often, let alone a perfect 6-by-6 typical of Boone & Crockett proportions. As Diane Herian steadied her Remington rifle and settled the crosshairs on the moving buck 170 yards across the canyon, there was an added pressure.
Diane had fired seven bullets from her .243 in the past six seasons and killed six bucks and one doe, never missing a single shot! Now the trophy of most hunters' lifetimes was about to walk out of her life. The pressure was intense. Pat, her husband, was watching the buck through his binoculars wondering if the shot on the moving buck was too far for Diane. He was convinced the buck was about to disappear forever when to his surprise the .243 cracked.
Diane grew up in the Midwest, and even though she was around hunting and shooting all of her life, she never dreamed that she would become a hunter. Her grandfather taught her how to shoot using a hex-barreled .22 rifle and .22 pistol. He told her to be confident, get on the target and shoot quickly with no hesitation.
One day, her grandfather and a friend were trying to shoot some cans with a pistol and neither one was having any luck hitting them. Her grandfather called Diane over and said give it a try. She pulled the pistol up and fired off one shot and hit the can. She handed the pistol back and walked off as both gentlemen stood there shaking their heads.
While in college in Missouri, Diane and a couple of girlfriends decided to enroll in a recreational shooting class that would also allow them to get their hunter safety certificates. While she enjoyed shooting, she never really thought of herself as a hunter.
After Diane and her husband were married, she began to rethink becoming a hunter. Pat was an avid bowhunter, and Diane had gone with him several times just to watch. She was amazed to see animals up close and got to see swans, eagles, ducks, quail and deer. One of her greatest highlights was seeing a hummingbird in the wild. Diane decided that she couldn't bowhunt, but she would like to take up rifle hunting since she knew how to shoot a gun. Pat was excited about this and bought her a Remington youth rifle chambered in .243 and topped it with a 4X Leupold scope.
Diane spent a number of hours practicing and getting used to her new gun from both bench rest and offhand shooting positions. Pat would have Diane take a quick second shot while practicing in case she ever needed it. Diane became very familiar with her gun and was ready to go her first season in 2001 in southeast Kansas where they live. Diane said that first morning hunting the rolling hills and canyons of southeast Kansas was very cold and windy and she really wondered if she wanted to do this.
The couple spotted a small basket rack buck in some tall grass. Diane sat down to get a better shooting position, but was having a tough time seeing the buck. The buck spooked and ran, but stopped to look back. Diane's rifle cracked, and the buck dropped on the spot. Pat was ecstatic, but Diane didn't understand what the big deal was. She thought that was the way it was supposed to happen. Opening day, first hunt, first shot, first buck. Diane figured her first buck would be the biggest and last buck she would ever shoot.
In 2002, the couple purchased a hardware store, and they were too busy getting the store up and going to be able to hunt that fall. In 2003, they weren't able to hunt on opening day but went later in the season and never saw a deer.
Opening day of the 2004 Kansas rifle season found the couple in the woods again, and Diane made a single-shot kill on a slightly larger buck than her first. Two shots, two bucks. Diane figured that would be the biggest and last buck she would ever kill.
On opening day of the 2005 season, Pat wanted to push a canyon. Even though they had always hunted together, he told Diane to get on the ATV and go to the opposite end of the canyon and sit on a hill and watch the end to see if he pushed anything out.
Pat said every man that he knows would've driven the ATV right up to the edge of the canyon and parked underneath the tree he wanted Diane to sit under. Diane thought it would be smart to park the ATV about 200 yards from the tree because she was afraid she might spook something if she drove up to the tree.
She walked to the tree and there was too much brush for her to sit comfortably under it so she reached up and started breaking branches to be able to have a clear shot. She heard something 50 yards down in the trees, and could see a deer coming toward her. She spotted antlers and then heard a "huff-huff" noise from the buck (possibly a snort/wheeze call), and the buck was pawing the ground, with his eyes fixed on her.
Diane Herian's hunting experience began in 2001 with a small basket-racked buck in southeast Kansas in 2001 and steadily progressed to more mature deer, culminating in a 170-inch brute she killed in 2009.
Diane said the look in his eyes was not the Bambi kind of look and scared her. The buck then began coming toward her at a fast trot, and Diane raised her rifle and fired at a distance of 25 feet! The buck turned, ran a short distance and went down. Pat heard the shot and made his way to a very shaken Diane. The buck was a 5-by-4 that grossed 142 inches. Diane was sure that this would be the last and biggest buck she would ever shoot. Three bullets, three kills.
Opening day in 2006 brought cold winds and sleet. Diane wears glasses, and the sleet kept freezing the glasses over. Pat had to keep taking them off of her and thawing and wiping the lenses so she could see. Diane said it was miserable. A large 5-by-4 came out at 175 yards moving through the brush.
Twenty minutes later he popped out at 100 yards and at 90 yards turned broadside. Diane fired and the big buck ran 100 yards and went down. Diane was super excited because now she could go someplace warm and dry! Despite the cold and adverse conditions, Diane had made a
nother perfect shot. She was now at four shots for four bucks, with two of those shots taken in very challenging conditions. The big-bodied buck would gross 147 inches. Diane was surprised at the mass in the buck's main beams. She was sure that this would be the biggest and last deer that she would ever shoot.
Opening day of 2007 found them back in the same area, and Diane would make a textbook shot on a slightly smaller version of her 2006 buck, with 5 points on the right and 4 on the left. This buck on his death run managed to break his right main beam, but they were able to find the broken piece of antler and have a taxidermist fix it. Once repaired, the buck grossed 135 inches. Five bullets, five bucks.
Diane said she is not a good field judge of deer and waits for Pat to tell her what to shoot. On opening day of 2008, Pat could see one side of a decent buck and told Diane to shoot. Diane once again made a perfect shot, and when they walked up on the buck they found that the opposite side of his antlers were badly deformed. Pat was wishing he had not told Diane to shoot. Diane told Pat, "Don't tell me to shoot unless you want the deer on the ground." Later that same day, Diane made a perfect shot on a doe. Seven bullets, seven deer.
Diane had also started turkey hunting with Pat during the springtime, and her success on turkeys is just as impressive as her tally on deer. She has killed half a dozen long beards with the same amount of shots.
When the 2009 season rolled around, the Herians were already on a roll. Pat had killed his largest buck ever, a long-tined 7-by-5 that grossed 170 2/8 inches during the early bow season. On the opening day of rifle season, the Herians headed to their favorite hills and canyons in southeast Kansas.
As they sat in their box blind, across the canyon Pat spotted movement and got the binoculars out. Moving in and out of the brush was a wide, dark-horned 6-by-6 buck that instantly got Pat's attention. The buck dropped back into the brush, and Pat told Diane to shoot the buck if it came out again. Shortly after that, a doe burst from the brush across an opening, and on her heels was the wide buck. He slowed to a walk as he headed toward the doe, which had now moved back into the brush. A few more steps and he would be gone.
Diane was on the buck, following him in her scope. Pat was not pushing her to shoot beyond her capabilities, for Diane had shot a coyote across this very canyon at this spot. But this was a monster buck, and he was moving toward some brush, making the long shot doubly difficult. Bucks of this size can make seasoned hunters' brains melt and their knees turn to Jell-o. A standing target was one thing, but a moving target completely changes the picture. The buck was slightly quartering away, and as Pat watched in his binoculars, he thought the buck was gone when Diane's rifle boomed.
The buck reared up, ran 50 feet, and keeled over. Diane had just heart-shot a B&C-class buck at 170 yards walking! Pat did not expect Diane to shoot, and was stunned. His wife had just killed a bigger buck than his! The excited couple made their way across the canyon to the buck and were in awe. A nearly perfect typical with six points per side was slightly over two feet wide.
Diane knew she had just killed a very nice buck, and it was bigger than anything she had killed up to this point, but she was soon to find out just how big. With an inside spread of 22 2/8 inches and only 3 7/8 inches in deductions, the buck stretches the tape to 170 5/8 inches net. News spread fast, and word reached a local outdoor reporter who did a write-up in the paper. Numerous people stopped in the hardware store to congratulate Diane on her outstanding buck.
Diane was a little taken back by all the attention. She just likes to hunt with her husband, giving them quality time together as they scout, practice, put up blinds and hunt. When I was interviewing Diane about her shooting skills, I was surprised by her comment. Most men with a perfect record of eight shots and eight kills would be prone to puff out their chest and tell you why they are such a good shot. Not Diane. "I am not that confident. I just get on the target and do what my grandpa taught me to do." She said she doesn't like to see animals suffer, so she makes sure she hits what she aims at. Instead of shooting and hoping, she only shoots when she feels she can make the shot. Sage advice for any hunter.
With seven racks on the wall, Diane hasn't even used half a box of shells yet. When I asked what she thought of the size of her buck, she said, "Now that's the biggest and last buck I'm sure I'll ever shoot!"