Thirteen-year-old hunter Cara Hein, of Minocqua, turned a change of scenery into meat in the freezer day two of the gun deer season. She was hunting with her dad, Paul Hein, when a new location offered a chance at a six-pointer.
“We actually hunted the first day at our own property and on Saturday we saw 10 does, but no bucks and on Sunday morning we tried it again and only saw one doe, and about 10 o’clock we decided we wanted to go out west of town ... Two of my uncles have a couple hundred acres out there,” Paul said.
On the property west of town, they set up an additional stand in a tree that already held a stand Paul had set up primarily for bow hunting. Paul positioned the stand he was to use just above Cara, who was to sit about 13 to 14 feet off of the ground in a hang-on tree stand.
“We were sort of taking a risk, because we had to put up a different stand and the deer out there are really, really alert,” Cara said. “And we sat and sat and sat and we didn’t see anything.”
Finally, with about 15 minutes of legal shooting light left, Cara would have a reason to raise the open-sighted .35 lever action she was holding. A buck was moving in.
“I couldn’t get it at first, because there was a ton of branches in the way ... it’s really, really thick out there,” Cara said.
Since the stand was set up for bow hunting, shooting lanes were short. Coupled with the thick cover, this meant that deer needed to be quite close before any shot was possible. It took its time, but the approaching buck eventually offered a chance at about 20 yards.
“I finally got an open shot and I hit it and it spun around and fell,” Cara recalled. “Then we were really excited, we’re like, ‘Yeah!’”
Daughter and father were about to descend and head over to the deer, but waited a few minutes after the buck made one more attempt to get up.
“I thought it was a fork,” Cara said, “but my dad was like, ‘No, I think it’s that six-pointer we’ve been seeing on the trail camera.”
Cara approached the downed buck cautiously.
“We went down there and I was sort of apprehensive because I was, ‘OK is it still alive?’ so I was walking around it and then it was like, ‘Oh, it actually is the six-pointer.’”
The cautious approach the buck made and its reaction to Cara’s shot led to an interesting trail-cam photograph.
“The deer came in so slow it didn’t even trip the trail camera when it was coming in, but then when she shot it – the quick reflex – it actually caught a picture of it in the air and spinning,” Paul said.
When the deer was coming in, Paul was also using his phone to video the hunt.
“I got the last minute and 15 seconds, when she shot it and everything, on my phone. That was pretty cool,” he said.
At the shot, Paul instinctively readied to study the buck’s departure, but there was none. It was down.
“Every time I go hunting with her or my son they pretty much drop’em in their tracks,” he said. “Very fortunate like that.”
Cara’s 15-year-old brother, Paul, shot a doe and a nine-pointer during the earlier youth hunt. Cara also got a deer during the youth hunt.
After a picture-taking session they hauled Cara’s buck away guts and all.
“We don’t like to field dress the deer there because there’s coyotes and wolves and everything like that,” Paul said. “Gives a chance for my uncles to maybe get some deer in there, because they get scared off so easy from the predators,” Paul said.
At a remote site the buck was field-dressed. It’s a process Cara is learning.
“I wanted to, this year, with both deer I got, but both deer were in the evening, so then it was dark by the time we were doing it,” she said.
“She does part of it,” Paul said. “She did part of it in the dark, but I didn’t want her reaching in for the wind pipe and all that stuff.”
When it’s time to process a deer, Cara’s right in the action.
“She’s right in there skinning the whole thing out and quatering it, and she takes and starts cleaning the silver skin off the meat. She’s all over that. It’s a wonderful thing,” Paul said.
Cara said venison bacon is her favorite.
This year was Cara’s third in the deer woods. She is no stranger to succes.
“Last year I got two deer as well, during gun season,” Cara said.
“I think she’s actually shot more deer, with a gun, than I have,” Paul said.
Cara entered her deer in the Northwoods Youth Deer Hunting Challenge. The rack has a seven-inch inside spread. There are plans to make an interesting trophy out of her six-pointer.
“We’re getting the ... European mount,” Cara said.
Cara does have her archery license and was also hoping to get in some late-season bow hunting.
Craig Turk may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org