Danielle gets her deer
NATCHEZ — Danny Brown has been around for a lot of deer harvests, but he had never heard the words he heard hunting Dec. 30.
“Dad, Dad,” Brown’s daughter said as she aimed her Marlin .243 bolt-action rifle at a six-point buck. “Hold my glasses.”
Brown, who was using one arm to stabilize his daughter’s rifle while the other was covering his mouth to prevent the buck from seeing the steam coming from his breath on the 26-degree morning, took her glasses. The 12-year-old girl then shot, and the excitement came from Brown first.
“You hit him, you hit him,” Brown yelled after Danielle had connected with a perfect shot.
The two heard the buck take off then crash to the ground. Fifteen minutes later —after the two exchanged a few high fives — the father/daughter duo left their stand and spent just a few minutes tracking the dead buck.
“I was so happy,” Danielle said about her first deer.
Danielle’s mother, Dee, and brother, Josh, then came to help get the deer out of the woods and take it to the processing plant. The buck weighed 125 pounds, and while the family was waiting, Danielle kept a close eye on her brother.
“My brother kept trying to get me over by the deer so he could put blood on my face, but I knew what he was doing so I would not get close to him,” she said.
But Danielle did not account for another member of her family’s sneakiness.
“I did not realize that my mom had already gotten blood on her hands, and she snuck up beside me and initiated me into the hunting world.”
But Danielle’s excitement was dwarfed by her father’s pride.
“Dad said, ‘It was a dream to be with his children when they harvested their first whitetail deer,’” Danielle said.
Danny said he had little trouble showing his excitement for his daughter’s achievement.
“I was definitely a proud father,” he said. “I think I was more nervous than her. I feel sure they probably heard me back in town (yelling).”
It took the young hunter a few tries in the woods before she managed to get her much just before New Year’s. The seventh-grade Adams County Christian School student had taken a dozen trips into the woods over a two-year span, had some near hits but never harvested a deer. She had some opportunities for an easier kill, but she wanted her first one to be special, she said.
“I have been going with my dad for the last couple of weeks in the afternoons,” she said. “We had only seen does and yearlings, and dad asked if I wanted to harvest a doe. But I told him I wanted my first deer to be a buck.”
Some of that desire came from the hunting tradition in her family, Danielle said. The family’s living room — sometimes called “the man cave” by Danny — is filled with trophy bucks killed by Danny, Dee and Josh. Now Danielle will be able to add her skull mount to the collection, and Danny said they may have to change the name since it now features as many female hunters and males.
Danielle said hunting is a long-standing tradition in her family, and she hunts with her mother, father and uncle John Mack Richards.
As she took aim at her first buck, many of the lessons her family had taught her came to her mind, and she said that helped calm her nerves a bit.
“I was really nervous,” she said. “It was not very far, maybe 20 to 30 steps.”
But Danny said his daughter landed a perfect shot, and her first kill was nearly flawless.
“It is not always this easy,” he told his daughter when they were taking the buck out of the woods.
Now that Danielle has the monkey off her back, she made a New Year’s resolution to go after even bigger bucks, she said.
Danny said he already has a potential trophy selected for his daughter.
“I have a deer spotted for her that I’ve named, ‘Chosen,’” he said. “Hopefully we can get him to pop up toward the end of the season.”