Rack Magazine

Wake-Up Call

Wake-Up Call

By Mike Handley

Missouri girl’s first deer will require a load-bearing wall.

Had it not been for her older brother Chase’s coaxing, 12-year-old Brit Looney would’ve gladly let the curtain drop on Missouri’s late-October youth season without firing a shot.

Now the sixth-grader from Higginsville, Missouri, has one less bullet for her .243.

“She didn’t even want to go hunting that day,” said 17-year-old Chase, who’s too old to take advantage of the special hunt. “I MADE her go.”

“He’s mean,” she responded.

The 2016 season was Brit’s second as a participant. She’s now the only kid in the family who can do so. Her sister, Alexis, turned 16 prior to the October hunt, which made her ineligible.

Chase almost had to beg his sister to go out about 3:00 on Oct. 30, the final Sunday afternoon. They rarely hunt together, but he wanted to christen a new blind setup on a family friend’s property in Lafayette County. He was willing to forget how “awful” it is to hunt with her, and she agreed to go despite his meanness and incessant talking.

By 3:15, brother and sister were sitting side by side in the popup blind he’d erected two weeks earlier. It was nestled beside a fence about 60 yards off a gravel road and only 45 yards from an abandoned house. Their father’s friend, “Uncle Ham” (Hamilton Little), suggested the hilltop spot because it was within shooting distance of a timbered draw that served as a corridor to a water source.

“I asked her if she was going to shoot the first deer she saw, and she said yes,” Chase said. “We saw only one.”

He actually saw it first.

“I was sleepy, so I told Chase to wake me up if he saw something,” Brit said. “When he woke me, he said ‘That’s the biggest deer I’ve seen in my life! Grab the gun, Brittany.’”

Chase saw the enormous rack long before he saw its wearer. As soon as he spotted antlers seemingly floating in a nearby CRP field, getting closer, he woke his sister. The buck jumped a fence and landed in the wide open only 45 yards from the slack-jawed kids.

Brit is not a huge fan of rifles. She doesn’t like the recoil, even the mild kick of a .243 Winchester. She’d much rather shoot her bow, but her dad, Gregory, won’t green-light bowhunting until she’s pulling more poundage.

That day will come, Gregory vows. “She’s good at shooting her bow.”

Her adversity to recoil aside, Brit wasted no time in raising the gun and squeezing the trigger.

After the boom, the buck kicked like a bronco and ran toward a pond on the property. Chase kept his eyes on the fleeing whitetail until it disappeared, which was a good thing.

There was neither blood nor tracks to follow.

When the family began searching for Brit’s deer by flashlight, they could only walk in the direction it ran. After scouring the ground for 130 yards, they found the animal in a wooded area beside the pond.

Nobody had seen the deer prior to that day. The Looneys and Uncle Ham had retrieved trail camera photographs of some decent bucks that year, but nothing was comparable to the one Brit now had her hands on.

“Had we known there was a deer that big on the place, we might’ve put some stipulations on the youth season,” Gregory laughed.

He says a couple of neighbors have since claimed they saw the deer, but nobody has come forward with any photographs of the distinctive buck he believes was only 31/2 years old.

The landowner maintains Brit’s might not have been the bull of the woods. Two weeks after she shot this one, Gregory and Ham returned to the farm to move the blind.

When they encountered the landowner, he told them he’d seen an even bigger buck – definitely wider – than the girl’s.

That news put a spring in Gregory’s and Ham’s steps, but they believe someone wounded the other deer, maybe fatally, on the neighboring property.

Brit’s deer, her first, will hang in the family’s living room, where Chase’s 150-inch 8-pointer once ruled the roost.

This article was published in the October 2017 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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