I stood there staring. My bow still out in front of me, I was froze. I had pulled the trigger on my release on a buck at 18 yards. I watched my arrow as it flew perfectly out of my bow and straight into the broadside buck. I felt like I had been holding my breath for 20 minutes. I let a deep breath out, I knew I had made a perfect shot. The buck took off running with my arrow still in him over the hill. Even though I was 7 months pregnant, I ran up that hill faster than I had ever ran in my life. I got to the top of the hill and saw the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, it is a picture that will be forever ingrained in my head. The sun was still coming up and the sky was a deep blood red, there was a fresh fall crisp in the air as I took a deep breath. I scanned the brown hillside looking for signs of my buck. I took another deep breath and this time I got choked up and felt a lump starting in my throat. I was scanning the hillside and couldn’t find my buck. My eyes were racing back and forth looking over everything, all I saw was brown grass and sagebrush. I closed my eyes and replayed the entire hunt in my head all the way to the point where the buck took off running. I started second guessing myself, did I not see my arrow hanging out of him? Was that just my mind playing tricks on me? I replayed it all again and again. I opened my eyes, calmed my nerves and took another deep breath and scanned the hill again. There he was, not even 20 yards from where I had shot him. It was one of the most emotional moments I have ever had and not just because I was pregnant. Everything that I had worked for in the past year, all the frustration, preparation, heartbreak and everything else, finally came together. I had shot my first animal while solo hunting. Not only was I solo hunting but I was hunting with my bow and I was 7 months pregnant.
I walked up to my buck and was in awe. It was one of the most amazing feelings I have ever experienced. There were so many different emotions mixed into it and I felt relieved. After thoroughly checking him out, I finally decided to go share my news. I got back in my car and drove to my Dad’s house. I told him I had just shot a nice buck and wanted to get the bobcat to go grab him and hang him in the shop. My Dad looked at me in disbelief, like he was waiting for me to tell him I was just kidding. When I finally convinced him that I really did shoot one, he got his knife and came with me. When we walked up to my buck and I was able to show my Dad, I felt a sense of pride from him that I had never felt before. We got the buck all gut out and then loaded onto the bobcat. I had called Travis and he said he was on his way from 2 hours away to come check out my buck. He couldn’t believe I had shot one either. It was a day that I will never forget. When my son was born in November, I named him Easton. I figured it was a fitting name and it had a story to go with it. A story that he could tell his friends at school. It’s a story that I still love to tell and I get people who think I am absolutely crazy for bowhunting solo while being that pregnant.
That day, so much went through me. It felt amazing to be able to see all my hard work and determination pay off. After shooting that buck and knowing then what it felt like to hunt solo, I knew it was a new obsession. It lit a fire under me to only become better. To continue to push myself to new levels and see just what I was able to accomplish. It’s a feeling that I don’t think anyone could ever explain and get even close to the actual feeling of it. It’s something that you have to experience in order to know what it is truly like. I did not elk hunt that year while I was pregnant because I figured that was a little too much for being that far along in my pregnancy. Immediately after shooting my buck, I knew that next year, I was going to try to elk hunt alone. But I knew I was no solo hunting expert and I had a lot to learn before then. One thing I did know though was it was one of the most exciting hunts I had ever been on and it gave me the shove I needed to become the best solo hunter that I could be. This was only the beginning!