Barefoot Buck

– By Aly Schreiber

This barefoot buck was a moment that I would have never have imagined I would ever experienced in my lifetime.

(Not) Growing up in the outdoors

For people who know me, they know how unconventional my outdoor story is. Growing up, my parents did not raise me hunting or fishing, and being involved in the outdoors wasn’t something I knew much about. In fact, all my life I was classified as my family’s “girly girl.” I was a ballerina, then a cheerleader,  and on the dance team in middle-school. Oh, and I absolutely loved fixing my hair and dabbling in makeup. Luckily for my poor dad, who has a wife and FOUR daughters, I played basketball, mainly because, against my mom’s wishes, he convinced me to at the age of eight (fortunately, I truly loved it and stuck with it every year until I graduated).

Being called “girly” all my life and not being introduced to the outdoors definitely forced me to label myself as “unworthy” of ever trying to fish or hunt. So, I never did. I had several friends growing up that hunted, but most of them were pretty unethical and egotistical. There were many disheartening moments I had witnessed because of them, and unfortunately, it left me with a bitter taste in my mouth toward the outdoor industry. I started to hate seeing photos of successful hunts. I unfollowed people that expressed their love for hunting. And, I even blocked hunting pages so Instagram’s algorithms would get the point.

The turning point

But luckily for me, I met someone who was patient enough to challenge my reasoning for hating outdoor sports and the so-called conservationists. And after I realized that I did not have any solid answers for him, I figured out that the reason I did not “like” hunting was because I did not understand it… not even a little bit.

As time went on, Cody finally convinced me to at least try it. So, I did… and I have been hooked ever since!

And just when I thought hunting could not get any better than what I had experienced over the last year and a half, I got to experience this incredible N1 moment.

Hunting patience

I had sat in this same spot for two weeks straight. I watched and passed over 100 deer in the thirteen days that I hunted this area. The majority of them were does, but I did have the opportunity to watch several small bucks chase during my hunts. I was starting to get discouraged. So, I mentioned to Cody that I may need to try a new spot if things didn’t start picking up.

Instead of encouraging me to try a different spot, Cody decided to come with me to the same spot, once again.

Big buck and barefoot stealth

We sat there, as usual, and watched several does graze and play, and then the occasional spike or young buck that would run them off. But shortly after we got settled, Cody said, “oh my gosh, big buck! Big buck, Alyssa!” He says this same phrase, A LOT. He loves to get me excited only to tell me that he was “just kidding.” So, naturally, I didn’t believe him. But when I was rolling my eyes at him, I spotted what he had already seen… a beautiful eight point that we had watched in this field the previous year. In fact, it was the same buck that Cody has missed in the previous year (just saying 😉).

Anyway, the buck was well over 300 yards away. But that wasn’t going to discourage us from doing our best to get a shot on him. We quickly grabbed our guns, ditched out spot, and made our way to the wood line so that we could walk through the trees until we were close enough for an ethical shot. Cody insisted that we take our shoes off to be quiet, and I was too in shock to argue with him, so we made the 240-yard trek barefooted.

Put your gun on my shoulder

Once we got within 60 yards, Cody decided that we didn’t need to test our luck, so we didn’t go any further.

As both of us were trembling all over and praying to the Lord (not even exaggerating), Cody allowed me to prop my gun on his shoulder so I didn’t have to free-hand my shot. I swear, it didn’t make it any easier. The adrenaline was rushing through my body and I couldn’t quit shaking to save my life. It took me over ten minutes to shoot the deer, and because of the anxiety during the moment, it felt like it was taking a stinking hour for me to get steady and make the shot.

Finally, the buck forced me to pull the trigger. He looked up at a snorting doe that was down wind from us, and was just about to take off running when I got the guts to pull the trigger.

The N1 Moment

He ran, which was super hard to watch because that left me wondering if my shot was accurate and fatal. But instead of worrying, I hit my knees and cried. I was so thankful, so excited, so anxious, and so completely overwhelmed. But mostly, I realized how rare and unforgettable this moment was and how lucky I was to experience it with my best friend.

We both sat there smiling, shaking, and laughing as we replayed the whole thing over and over. After we let some time pass, Cody decided it was okay for us to go look for some blood… which we never recovered. After frantically searching the area for just a single drop of blood or a strand of hair, and coming up with NOTHING, we decided to just move on to where we last saw him in the wood line.

Once we got there, there was no need to search any further… he was right there.

I can honestly say that moment was one of the best moments I have ever experienced; excitement, adrenaline, fear, and thankfulness… all N1.

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When the second buck proves it isn’t beginner’s luck

– By Nicole Malkowski

I am new to hunting and hunt with my fiancé, who taught me everything…

Bow season

This was only my second year hunting, and my first year bowhunting. We hunt in Wisconsin, but live in Illinois and both have very demanding jobs. We worked really hard this year on our land and went up every chance we could to bowhunt. We even used our vacation time to take a week off during the rut. That week we actually saw this 10 pointer fighting an 8 pointer over a doe. It was awesome to see, but we had no shot.

Rifle Season

Since I had taken so much time off work for bow hunting, I was not able to go for the opening weekend of rifle season. I thought about just not going this year. But, I decided to get my tags last minute and head up for the last weekend. After not seeing anything Friday or Saturday, I only had the Sunday morning hunt left before our 3 hour drive back home. I had little hope walking out to my stand, but when I got there, I heard a lot of noise in the brush underneath the stand. I couldn’t see anything of course, because it was pitch black. But, once it got light out, I heard something again, so I turned around slowly… but it was only a bunny.

Spotting the big buck

An hour later, I heard shots fired to my right and then I heard him come out of the brush behind me. I slowly stood up and turned around, lined up my scope, and took the shot. And, into the brush he went ! I could see the top of his rack. He stayed there in the brush for a while. Then, out ran a doe, taking my attention away from the buck. I waited for what felt like forever before I headed down to look for him.

The search

I was very nervous because I couldn’t find any blood I looked all over through the thick brush. I called my fiancé for help. After we looked together, he thought I had missed the buck. But, I knew I didn’t miss and walked only 10 feet further to find a large amount of blood and then… he popped up and took off! Luckily, there is an open field directly behind the woods and he dropped after about 60 yards!

The biggest buck yet

I am the first female to hunt in my fiancées family. During my first year hunting, I took the biggest buck ever on their property. This one was even bigger! They definitely had doubts about me hunting, even after my first buck. They said it was beginners luck, but now I definitely proved myself. What a moment!

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Walleye (BIG)… Put A Hook N1!

– By Ryan Romero

Chasing trophy walleye is my obsession. When it comes to targeting BIG walleye, you have to put in the time to reap the rewards! This N1 Moment is a collection of hard work, sleepless nights, and 100% dedication. Me and My good friend, James Palma, set out on this day, 11/30/2017, to try and catch a monster walleye for my birthday… and we did just that!

The lure

James’ gift to me was a lure that I have wanted in our arsenal for a long time and he finally made it happen. He airbrushed an h-14 husky jerk that this 13 lb. walleye couldn’t resist! The night started out slow. When we got to our first spot, there was someone already fishing it! So my buddy said, “you know what, we’ll go to this other shore line and catch bigger and better fish than we will here.” 

The spot and the catch

After a short ride to a spot on Delavan lake, called Willow point, I casted out the line and within 2 minuets this big girl was linked up! She just about broke the rod she hit with so much force! At that moment I said, “BIG FISH!” After a 5-10 minute fight, she finally came close enough to net. It was a tense series of moments, but with only one hook in her, we made it happen and Put A Hook N1!

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Deer hunting obsession and an unforgettable moment

– By John Workman

The backstory of this deer

I saw this deer on camera around mid-December of 2016 and became obsessed. I had hundreds and hundreds of pictures of him. In February, I noticed he hadn’t been to the area or fed at the feeder, so I started looking for his sheds. I found one side (which was the side I wanted the most). He was at my best guess a 15 point, and had 10 points on the shed I found. It sucked my attention in even deeper. My wife got so sick of hearing about “close call.” I never name deer, but he had what looked like a gunshot wound in his right ear, so I dubbed him “close call.” After I found his shed, I focused a lot of attention on the area where I knew he was.

The re-appearance

In April of 2017, he showed back up, with just 2 or 3 inch nubs on his head. Of course, because of his ears, and my obsession, I knew it was him. He stuck around for a few weeks, and then of course, disappeared again and remained out of view until around June, when he came back. He stayed close by and on camera sometimes 3 different times a day from June on.

I’m from Kentucky, and our season comes in really early, so I was counting down the days and doing my very best to just keep him around. Around the first of August, he quit feeding at the feeder, but was still visible in the open. Our season opened on September 2 this year, and in my mind, I had him in the bag. I ran up to 4 cams to keep my eyes on him, and one was a Spartan cell cam. It kept me from frequenting the area, and I knew instantly when he was there. On August 31st I have video of him in the broad daylight at what would have been an 18 yard shot for me.

My confidence was out the roof. The season opened and I spent the next 6 days in the stand. I only hunted him of an evening, seeing I never had a picture or anything of a morning of him. But, over those 6 days, he never showed his face at all.

The Crush

I was crushed. In my mind, I knew he was probably just laying low and in the process of shedding his velvet. I back off for a few days and would keep my eye on my cameras, thinking I had applied too much pressure. He finally showed back up but had gone completely nocturnal. Around the 15th of September, he had completely vanished. I just knew someone else had gotten him I told no one but a very tight group about this deer.

Then, one day I was at my son’s football practice and heard someone talking about a huge buck they had seen in the area where the buck lived. I then knew he was still alive, but it worried me that someone would do something stupid to him. For the next 2 weeks the buck would only show up about ever 4-6 days for a brief minute, and in the middle of the night. He was playing hide ‘n seek. At least I knew he was still alive, is all I could think of. I stayed away and didn’t hunt for weeks.

On September 26, while away from home, my cell phone dings and there he is. It’s 4 in the evening and I’m not in the woods, so I figured my one chance had come and gone. I looked closely at the forecast and figured I could hunt the 28th and 29th because there was a cool front coming, and the wind would be perfect. I hunted the 28th and nothing. Not a single deer.

I was kind of skeptical, but wouldn’t give up. My wife and I had plans for the evening of the 29th, but she was okay with me hunting for a few hours that evening. I got there around 4:30 that evening and it was calm and perfect. I texted my wife and told her, “this would be the perfect evening for him to show up. It’s so quiet and calm.” She told me that it was okay if I stayed till dark, before we went out. She understood my obsession more than anyone. At around 5:45, I had a small buck come in. He wasn’t there long and left.

The N1 Moment

I was just enjoying the evening being in the woods. Around 6:25 or so, I decided I’d try a little very light rattling (seeing it worked the year before). About 10-15 minutes after I heard what sounded like a cough or something from the hill across from me. I focused my full attention to that area. I saw movement coming my way…. a small basket 8 point I had on cam.

As soon as he came out, I saw a second deer coming. It turned out to be the small 3 point that was there earlier in the evening. After he came out, it still sounded like more deer were coming. Low and behold, I look in the timber and here he comes. I instantly began become overwhelmed. The buck came out, just like I had planned, but he looked right at me. He turned around like he was going to head back into the timber, so I drew on him. He was quartering away at 21 yards.

I held tight and left the arrow fly. Instantly I knew I had just messed up on the buck of a lifetime. The shot looked super high. I was sick. I set back and text my wife and told her I had just shot him. Then, I went over the shot in my head 100 times. I went and retrieved the arrow and looked it over. It appeared to have really good blood, so I wasn’t so sure I had hit it high.

My wife finally showed up, and we went looking. It was the first time she had ever tracked and she was super excited. We continued to find good blood, then about 70 yards in the timber, there be laid. The buck of my lifetime….the one I had become so obsessed over. This buck gross scored 177 7/8”, even though he was only 14 ½” wide. He has 18 scoreable points. This buck is my biggest to date, and the most gratifying as well. Come to find out, in the middle of September when he disappeared, it was because someone had tried to poach him. He was shot with a small caliber rifle, just above his front shoulders. I got very lucky to be able to harvest such a tough and awesome animal.

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First Archery Buck…

– By Jennifer Danella

During the first cold front of the year, I took my first archery buck in Washington County, Pennsylvania! Wow, my first archery kill! He walked by my stand and stopped about 38 yards away. He was quartered away from me when I shot him. He jumped and ran 50 yards before crashing. I found him with my arrow still in him. I am very proud to have harvested this deer after all the hard work I’ve put into this season!

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Big Catfish… Put A Hand N1

– By Charles Farmer

Summer is upon us and in Southern Illinois, and that means it’s time for catfish to start spawning. They swim up in holes under all sorts of things such as stumps, boat ramps, and rocks. The first thing you do is feel around with a stick in the hole because fish this big will be in holes 15, maybe 20 feet, back. We found a big flathead under a boat ramp and we knew it was time to Noodle1. So, I went under the murky water and put my arm in the hole, waving it around inside there and… Bam, I got bit! So, I grabbed its bottom jaw and ripped it out of the hole while putting my other hand under it. We ran a stringer in it to see how big it was once he broke the surface. It was a monstrous 40+ pounder! I’ll never forget the day I put a hand N1! 

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