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December 17: Rick Ralston

What an exciting year it has been. Kristin and I were blessed with a beautiful baby girl in September. Then, I had two great weeks of hunting in November with my brother - Justin. And now, December had finally rolled around. This year was going to be unique because my father-in-law, Rick Ralston, drew a coveted 2nd Season Iowa Shotgun Tag. Rick is a hunter and has been his entire life. But, that is his second hobby - first and foremost is his loves for cars...FAST ones. To say he is a hot rod enthusiast, is to explain it mildly. He's so into cars, that the entire family owns "weekend cars". For those of you that don't know - "weekend cars" only come out when the sun is shinning and the weather is nice. How fitting - deer do the same darn thing. Except, their version of nice weather and ours differ a bit. However, the one commonality - the sun. Boy do deer move better when the sun is shinning. Anyway, more on that later! What strikes me the most about Rick is his passion for his favorite hobby. In fact, I believe that's the reason Kristin excepts, tolerates and even participates in mine so readily. While growing up - cars and car shows and car discussions were the order of the day around the Ralston household. And now, around our house, its deer and deer season and food plot planting season and shed season and trail camera season and deer conversations and deer text / picture messages and on and on and on....

Opening weekend was upon us and Rick and I were ready. We'd shot the TC Omega over and over again. Probably 30 to 35 times in fact. The one thing I already knew about Rick but reaffirmed while preparing for the hunt - he's a perfectionist. Luckily my TC Omega, is one two. The last three shots were touching and exactly 3/4" high at 100 yards...we were ready.

Opening morning came and went, but the evening is what we were excited about. The sun was shinning, a fresh foot of snow had fallen in southern Iowa and temps were in the 20s...the right prescription for deer movement. We ended up seeing about 35 deer and of course the one we were after showed up but never got close enough for a good shot. Rick said, he saw "three shooters for back home and one MONSTER." I kindly replied with - we saw three 3 year olds and one MONSTER. At least we agreed on that point. The temps continued to plummet and of course, the winds changed later that night. Little did we know it would be 4 more days until we could get back to that spot again. So we hunted a very cold and snowy Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with no avail (wind chills were below zero most evenings.) Then on Wednesday the 16th, the winds changed back out of the south and we were headed back to my favorite spot. The sun was shining again (the first time since Saturday) and we were hoping it was going to be a great evening. As the evening's hunt progressed - it didn’t appear like the big boy was going to show himself, there were a few younger age class bucks on the field along with some does...but no Monster. But, like they always do, off in the distance we saw the ten point we encountered Saturday evening. Except this time, he was at 153 yards (not 240 yards) and night fall was quickly approaching - we decided it was time...it was now or probably never. Rick steadied the gun, pulled the hammer and squeezed the tigger and boom - dropped him in his tracks. We knew from the start of the day we had a lot to celebrate - just three months to the day Eloise was born AND Rick survived a heart attack. Yes, Sept 16th was an eventful day, indeed. And now, 3 months later we were glad to share this experience together.