I didn’t sleep well on the Friday night before Indiana’s 2011 firearms opener. My husband, Jerry, had agreed to stay home with our daughters so I could go hunting with my dad, Tim Ostrander, and I was excited.
I awoke at 4:30 a.m., got ready and was at my parents’ home an hour later. Dad asked me if I wanted to skip hunting and just go back to bed.
I told him no.
Soon, we were on our way to his favorite spot, to the stand we would share.
Just after sunrise, I heard something and nudged Dad’s arm. He was the first to see the buck. It was standing only 20 yards from us.
I lifted my red dot scope’s flaps and turned it on, but the dot was too bright. While I was adjusting it, Dad kept whispering, “Shoot it, Audrey, shoot it!”
I knew the scope was on. I’d gone out and shot a few rounds through my .44 Mag rifle the previous day, just to be sure. Even so, I didn’t want to make a bad shot.
I was trying to stay calm, but my heart was pounding through my chest. I raised my rifle again, settled the red dot on the kill zone, took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger.
Seems like it took forever.
I glanced up in time to see the buck kick up its back legs and take off running through the brush. After a few quiet seconds, Dad said, “Good shot!”
I wanted to get down right then and go find my buck. I’d had many opportunities in the two seasons I’d been hunting to shoot does, but that was my first buck. Jerry has always preached: “Get the deer for the meat, not just for the thrill of the kill.”
I was plenty thrilled. All I wanted to do was go find my buck and do a happy dance, but Dad kept telling me to be quiet in case there were other hunters in the area.
When we finally got down out of the stand, Dad pointed to something brown and white, maybe 60 yards distant. I got my binoculars and looked at it, but the brush was too thick for me to tell what it was.
We walked slowly toward it, and eventually realized it was my deer. As we got closer, I looked at the buck and couldn’t believe my eyes. It was huge. I was so excited I started doing my happy dance, and Dad smiled and laughed. I tried to get him to happy dance with me, but when I saw that wasn’t going to happen, I settled for a high-five.
I also called my husband and told him to bring the girls; I had shot a huge buck.
In the meantime, we went back to the house to get my mother. We were taking pictures when my husband and daughters, Aurora and Keara, arrived. Jerry was open-mouthed.
His biggest buck had been a 10-pointer, and I had always told him that I would get a buck bigger than his. We all stood around in amazement, we were looking at the 200-plus-pound buck with points all over its head.
While field-dressing the deer, we discovered my bullet had clipped the top of the heart.
Afterward, we took it to the house before continuing on to the check station.
By that time, word had spread. Friends dropped by to see it; others called or sent text messages to verify the rumor.
Everywhere we went that day, people stared, took photographs and asked questions.
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