Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Sometimes when you least expect something to happen is well... when it will happen. At least that's what happened to me and harvesting my first archery animal; but, for you to fully understand the story, we have to start from the beginning. 

I started hunting almost 20 years ago, my husband was the one who introduced me to the sport.  Growing up just outside of Tampa, Florida and being raised by a single mother, I didn't have many opportunities for hunting but I love the outdoors and enjoyed watching wildlife. I was never the type of person to just sit around. Hunting was a great way for my husband and me to spend time together. I love being in the outdoors; and for us, it seemed to be the perfect fit. A few years later, I was driving home from work when someone ran a red light and hit me hard. In the accident, I hurt my right arm. It took two elbow surgeries and years of healing to finally feel like I had my strength back in my arm. 

By this time my husband and I had started a family and God had blessed us with twins. Like any children, they didn't listen and came into this world way to early. Our world revolved around them but as the years passed, I slowly began to hunt again with my husband. I was even lucky enough to get a State Park tag that only 10 hunters get per year. Harvesting a beautiful 5 by 5 Whitetail with my rifle. My husband and I included our children as much as we could when we would go hunting. They love being in the outdoors just as much as we do. As hunting interests grow in my state and hunting tags changed it began to be harder and harder to get a deer tag. Living in an area full of wildlife and not receiving a hunting tag every year I know I had to change something and I had to challenge myself to try something new. 

My husband had just upgraded his bow and he asked me if I wanted to try shooting his old one. I had never really thought I could pull a bow back after hurting my arm in that car accident. I had always used that as an excuse but never gave myself a chance to try it out. I really enjoyed the sport of archery and enjoyed watching my husband shoot but never thought it was something I could do. After the very first arrow, I was hooked. I started out slow and missed the bullseye a lot, but it was fun. I enjoyed just getting out shooting. With the help of my husband and lots of practice I slowly began to get better at it. The only problem was his old bow was heavy for me and if I ever wanted to try archery hunting I was going to have to find something lighter. After some research, I purchased a Mathews Heli-M and loved it. I was shooting better and keeping much tighter groups on my target. 

That following year I decided to get an Archery hunting license for a deer. This being one of my biggest influences in archery hunting because in my state you can receive an archery tag every year--allowing me to hunt every year in an area close to home and close to my kids. Once again with the help of my husband, we put up my first treestand. I was absolutely blown away by how much more of the deer's behavior I witnessed in the stand. I had never heard a doe make so many sounds before. I had never seen a buck scrape and rub a tree before or chase a doe around. I even had a deer walk right under my stand. That first year in the stand was full of firsts but not my first deer and I was ok with that. I learned so much about deer that first year that it felt like it was a win for me.

Through the summer I continued to practice as much as I could and I even joined a local archery shooting league. So by the time archery deer season came around the second year, I felt I was ready. We moved my treestand that hunting season in hopes of being closer to the deer. That season I saw lots of deer but for some reason, nothing seemed to line up for me and to be honest, nothing did that year for hunting. I had two opportunities on deer in my treestand and both times I missed. My missing didn't just happen archery hunting. I had missed on some very easy rifle shots as well on some nice bucks. It just wasn't my year. Hunting isn't just about shooting something.  I spent a lot of time with my family. I was able to take my kids more with me. I spent a lot of time hunting together with my husband. That same year, my son harvested his first deer with his dad. I can still remember that call from my son as I was getting out of my treestand that evening and the excitement in his voice when he said to me "Mom, I shot my deer" but as much as was ecstatic for my son, I felt a little disheartened that I cannot share his success. I wanted nothing more than to have harvested a deer with my bow but once again I took it as a learning experience. 

That following summer I really tried to import what I had learned in those past hunting seasons. Extending my yardage I was shooting and keeping my bow set-up just like I had it during hunting season. Another big change was that this year my state GFP opened Archery Deer season three weeks earlier than years past, putting me in the treestand that much earlier. After a few weeks of hunting and only seeing deer on the other side of the valley, we decided to put up a new stand for me. So once again with the help of my amazing husband and our two kids they spent a Friday afternoon putting up a new stand for me while I was at work. That next day we had already planned to go up in the hills hunting with a friend so I would have to wait on sitting in my new stand till that Sunday. 

So that Saturday morning as we hit the road to meet our friend. I forgot one of the most import items,  I forgot my bow. Luckily, my hubby loves me and we drove back to get it.  As we arrive in the area we wanted to hunt, it was socked in with fog. Not really be able to see that much we decided to continue on to some other areas.  Finally, the fog started to lift and the deer were moving. Spotting a smaller 2 by 2 mule deer, my husband and I worked on trying to get me closer to the deer but was never able to get any closer to him than 65 yards.  Not feeling comfortable enough for a shot we counted on in hopes of seeing more deer. At this point, it has been almost three years trying to arrow a deer that I wasn't really concerned about the horn size. 

As we come around the bend our friend that was with us hunting said "deer, nice deer" so my husband and I slowly began to inch closer to him. The night before we had gotten our first snowfall in the area and the snow was falling off the trees above making enough noise to cover the sound of us inching closer to him. Keeping a tree or two between us and the deer, we counted to get closer and closer. As we got to the last tree my husband ranged the deer and I removed an arrow from my quiver. My husband said to me in the calmest voice, he is at 50 yards, pull your bow back, take a step out from the tree and hold your 50-yard pin on him and let it go. As I began to step out I saw there were some small branches in front of the deer,  I can't I said because of the branches. He said don't worry you will clear them.  So I did just what my husband,  an avid, experienced archery hunter said to. I lined my pin up right where he said to and let my arrow fly. Watching in utter belief, the arrow hit the mark and the buck made that famous heart kick. I just stood there with my arms still extended, bow in hand. I said to myself now don't get too excited its archery and sometimes things just don't go as you think they should. I turned quickly to my husband and made eye contact with him and by the look in his eyes I know I had made the shot. I could also hear our friend who was hunting with us in the background say "you got him" I turned quickly back to the buck watching him as he walked a little way and lay down. Could this be it, did I just shoot my first archery deer? After watching the deer lay down, our friend came up to where my husband and I were. We decided my husband would keep an eye on where the deer was to make sure he didn't get up and our friend and I would go look for the arrow and look for blood.  After a short search, we found the arrow covered in blood. No question I hit him, so we waited a short bit and went to go get him. As I walked up to the buck all I could think about was the hours my family just spent on putting my new stand up the day before and that I will never sit in this year. But shortly after putting my hand on my very first archery deer all that faded. I was overcome with joy and respect for the deer. After three years, hundreds of hours sitting in the stand and a few misses, I had finally accomplished what I had set out to do harvest my first animal with a bow. The best part is I had my biggest supporter, my husband by my side.


Sometimes when you least expect it, great things will happen, just remember to keep trying and never give up. 


Kelly McIntosh

ReelCamoGirl ProStaff

Avid Huntress and Fisher


Facebook: Kelly McIntosh