Skip to main content

From Frustration to Exhilaration

From Frustration to Exhilaration

My 2001 deer season was going nowhere fast. Then, along came a special whitetail that must have been meant just for me.

"Jenna, wake up."

I groaned and rolled over. It was too early to wake up. Dad shook my shoulder again, and I opened my eyes. It was 6:30 a.m.: time to get ready to go deer hunting. I sat up to let Dad know I was awake. After Dad went to eat breakfast, I got dressed and headed out to the kitchen.


Dad was sitting in a chair, putting on his boots. I put in my contact lenses, pulled my hair into a ponytail and grabbed some breakfast. Then we grabbed our hunting gear and headed out.


Early morning is the best time to look for deer in our area of South Dakota, as they're still moving around after foraging for food all night. Between roughly 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., you need to walk through shelter belts and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grass; during that period, they're usually bedded.

At around 7 a.m., as Dad and I were driving about a mile and a half from home, we spotted a doe and two fawns. We stopped, and I took a couple of shots at the doe as she was running. I missed.


This wasn't my first missed deer of the season; in fact, since the opener I'd missed at least 11, all but which had been running. Dad already had taken his deer for the year, and the three guys who hunt with us had shot theirs on opening weekend. Yes, it was definitely getting frustrating.


Dad must have noticed that I was a little down, because after I'd missed the doe, he said, "Well, you're bound to hit something eventually. You can't miss many more."

Yeah, thanks, Dad. Very helpful. Stiil, I couldn't help but crack a smile. That was Dad's way of cheering me up, and it worked.

We now were driving on a road that separates Day and Codington counties. I glanced at a little stand of brushy trees,then glanced back, thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me.

"Wait!" I cried, just as Dad stepped on the brake. I had thought I'd seen a patch of white in the trees as we passed. We had heard there was an "albino" deer running around up in this area, and this could be it! Unfortunately, the grove of trees was on the Day County side of the road, and all I had was a Codington County license.

We back up, stopping at the stand of trees. Was it my imagination, or was that white patch now farther back in the cover? I grabbed my binoculars and looked closer.

"So it is the albino, or just a bag caught in the trees?" Dad asked.

Jenna's piebald button buck gave her 2001 season a happy ending after all. Photo courtesy of Larry & Linda Halse.

"Just a bag, I think," I answered.

We backed up to make sure there were no deer running out the back side of the grove. Even if that white spot was only a bag, there could very well be deer hiding in there.

Nothing. We drove forward again. This time, I was sure the white spot had moved. It now was farther back in the trees. Once again, we backed up to check for other deer running.

Nothing. Dad sighed, and we moved forward again. Obviously, it was just a bag caught in the trees.

As Dad slowed the truck near the grove, I looked again for the white spot. This time it wasn't there at all! We looked out across the field, and there running were five deer: four of regular brown deer and one that was mostly white! The white deer stood out like a sore thumb against the black dirt of the field. There was only one problem: The herd was on the Day County side of the line.

Suddenly, all of the deer whirled around and began running back toward the grove we'd scared them from . . . and that meant they were coming toward Codington County. They were heading for a shelter belt across the road from the other grove.

At this point we were near an approach, so Dad pulled in and quickly turned the truck around. In the mirror, I saw a black Jeep turn around in an approach farther ahead and start to follow us back in the direction from which we'd come.

Dad stopped the pickup and jumped out, binoculars in hand. I grabbed my grandpa's .270, hopped out, shut the pickup door behind me and ran down into the ditch just as the pack of deer started running toward the shelter belt. If the white one got there before I could get a shot off, this rare chance could be lost forever.

I raised my rifle and focused through the scope as I tried to steady my trembling arm. Every second counts . . . .

The white deer was running straight away from me, but then turned slightly. That gave me a better shot angle, but it was still running and getting closer to the trees with each passing second. I release the rifle's safety, focused and slowly pulled the trigger.

The rifle kicked a bit, and I lowered it, grabbed the bolt and flipped out the empty shell. When I looked up again, I couldn't see the white deer anywhere. "It's gone," I whispered to myself. Then I slowly turned and began walking back up the ditch toward Dad.

I noticed that the men in the black Jeep had stepped out of it and were talking to him. They evidently were fellow hunters, judging from the fluorescent orange they wore.

"I think it dropped somewhere along the outside edge of the shelter belt," I heard the older man say as I approached. My eyes widened. Had he just said what I thought he said?

WHAT'S IN A NAME?


The term "piebald," used to identify a whitetail with at least one extra splotch of white hair, has an interesting origin. "Pie" means "mixed up;" "bald" means "having a white spot." To a horseman, a "piebald" is a horse with blackand white splotches; one with brown and white splotches actu

ally is known as a "skewbald."

 

Then the man turned to me. "I'm Doug DeVille," he said with a friendly smile, "and this is my son, Corey." I vaguely remembered having met Corey about a mile up this same road the previous weekend.

"Jenna Halse," I said, shaking hands. "So you actually think I got it?" I asked incredulously.

"Yes," Doug answered. "We were watching through the binoculars."

We talked for a few more minutes, then Dad and I said goodbye to Doug and Corey and climbed back into the pickup. We drove to the edge of the shelter belt . . . and there, nearly three-fourths of the way up the row we saw it, lying just inside the trees. The animal's white hair contrasted clearly against the dead brown of the grass in the shelter belt.

It was the most amazing deer I'd ever seen, and believe me, I've seen plenty. Its head was the normal brown, and then most of the rest of it was white, including the tail. There were a few brown patches scattered here and there.

Dad gave me a hug, then went over to inspect the deer more closely. I was so overcome with amazement that I could only stare at it. How had I, who couldn't hit anything, managed to get this?

I walked over to look at the deer myself. It was what's commonly called a "button buck," a male fawn. Dad was looking for the bullet hole, and he found it on the deer's left side. Amazingly, the bullet had hit the piebald in the heart. For once, my aim had been true; if I'd pulled the barrel to the left much at all, the shot would have missed him completely.

"You got lucky," Dad commented. "You were supposed to gut your own deer this year."

"Yeah, but you won't let me gut this one, will you?" I asked with a smile.

"No," he answered. "I'm not even going to gut this deer. We'll take it to a taxidermist. It may be worth mounting."

Wow. That was pretty serious.

After tagging and loading my deer, we headed home to show Mom, Jill and Justin. We then took a bunch of photos, because this was pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime thing. The previous year I'd shot a 2x3 buck, and now, in only my second year of deer hunting, I'd tagged this. I'm sure I'll continue to look forward to hunting season, but I don't think it ever could match 2001!

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Deer Dog: Replicating Realistic Tracks

Deer Dog: Replicating Realistic Tracks

On this edition of "Deer Dog," Jeremy Moore discusses the role scent plays when it comes to tracking and how to incorporate it into your training.

Gordon

Gordon's First NAW Hunt

This segment features Gordon Whittington's very first on camera hunt for North American Whitetail.

Deer Herd Health and Antler Development with Mineral Supplementation

Deer Herd Health and Antler Development with Mineral Supplementation

Haynes Shelton and Dr. James Kroll talk about how to supply your deer herd with key minerals, and how to avoid the most common mistakes.

On Target: Tips for Handgun Hunting Accuracy

On Target: Tips for Handgun Hunting Accuracy

Dr. James Kroll provides tips for hunting whitetails with a handgun.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Good location is just part of the equation.The Best Summer Trail Camera Strategy Scouting

The Best Summer Trail Camera Strategy

Tony J. Peterson

Good location is just part of the equation.

What can you do to ease the physical and mental rigors of being caught at full draw? Training to Shoot When Stuck at Full Draw Bowhunting

Training to Shoot When Stuck at Full Draw

Jace Bauserman

What can you do to ease the physical and mental rigors of being caught at full draw?

You can generally take as many does as bucks in a healthy heard, how many is too many?Balancing The Deer Herd Deer Behavior & Facts

Balancing The Deer Herd

Dr. James C. Kroll

You can generally take as many does as bucks in a healthy heard, how many is too many?

The right arrow for your setup will boost your whitetail body count. Building The Ultimate Whitetail Arrow Bowhunting

Building The Ultimate Whitetail Arrow

Jace Bauserman

The right arrow for your setup will boost your whitetail body count.

See More Trending Articles

More Industry

The quest for fame and fortune may have claimed another victim from the hunting world.

This time,NAW TV: Marc Anthony Talks About Buck He Allegedly Faked Industry

NAW TV: Marc Anthony Talks About Buck He Allegedly Faked

David Hart - May 20, 2014

The quest for fame and fortune may have claimed another victim from the hunting world. This...

 The Hole in the Horn buck is the most famous whitetail in the world, and for good reason.

SomeHole in the Horn Buck: Truth Revealed Industry

Hole in the Horn Buck: Truth Revealed

Gordon Whittington - December 21, 2015

The Hole in the Horn buck is the most famous whitetail in the world, and for good...



Have you ever described something as a Hunters Free Locked Bucks, Get Charged Industry

Hunters Free Locked Bucks, Get Charged

Steve Center - December 14, 2015

Have you ever described something as a "once in a lifetime" experience? Many times we hear...

 Killing bucks with her rifle was nothing new, but Krissy had never killed one with her bow.

At myKrissy Zimmer Buck: 7-Point Georgia Charm Industry

Krissy Zimmer Buck: 7-Point Georgia Charm

Krissy Zimmer - March 16, 2016

Killing bucks with her rifle was nothing new, but Krissy had never killed one with her...

See More Industry

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the North American Whitetail App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All North American Whitetail subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now