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October 25: Candice Woods

One of the most exciting times of our lives was when Tim and Ben competed in Dream Season Land of the Giants. When we watched the final episode at 6:00 am and found out that Team Ohio had won, I all but jumped up and down in our bed with excitement! The prize package included several awesome hunting trips but I never dreamed that I would be going on any of them.

Once Tim told me that Ben wasn’t going to be able to leave his commitments with Wolf Creek Outfitters, I jumped at the chance to travel out to Hadley Creek. My hunting experiences don’t stack up very high but I knew what kind of opportunity this was. We weren’t sure how we were going to pull off getting away from home and work for a whole week. After talking it over with our families we were more than comfortable leaving town, because they banned together and worked out a schedule to cover every minute we were gone. We are so incredibly blessed with wonderful family and friends.

After a long 10 hour road trip we finally pulled up to the lodge and saw the Hadley Creek sign -that iconic image that you instantly recognize. We hopped out of the truck and opened the door to the lodge where we were instantly greeted by some of the most genuine and nicest people I’ve ever meet. My mouth was probably hanging open in awe as I scanned the walls and took in all of the impressive mounts. This place is not even describable by words. Amazing is the closest I can come to description.

We got settled in and made sure our gear was ready for the morning hunt. The alarm rang out at 4:00 am. (I declared the girl in camp showers first…it takes a long time to de-scent and dry long hair). Our guide ‘Shooter Rick’ picked us up at 5:00 and we spent the morning hunt counting more deer than I had seen in a month of hunting in Ohio.
The evening hunt was even better! Rick took us back to the same farm and we sat way out in a timber draw close to a food source and some bedding. We were trying to stay dry through the drizzle. Tim called to a nice buck on the clover field to our left and he came rolling through the timber with a doe not long after. While we were watching them disappear in to the bottom Tim turned around and was looking right at a gray faced eight point with about 150 inches of mass. I’m still looking the other way and I heard “Pick up your bow there is a monster right behind you!!!”

That was all it took and my heart was pounding out of control and my adrenaline levels skyrocketed. I was able to peek around the tree just enough to get a look at this guy. I prayed that he would come around the side of the tree so I could get an arrow in him. He didn’t. He turned around and walked right out of my life. I will never ever forget that deer. I shook in my seat and my legs slowly returned from Jello to normal. We didn’t see anything else that night, but what an encounter.

Tim and I turned in early in anticipation of the next 4:00 wake up. That morning was wet, cold and miserable so I wasn’t entirely disappointed when we got down from our stands at 10:30. We went back to the lodge and warmed up with some chili. Tim had me throw a few practice arrows while we were there and then he said, “Let’s just get back in a tree”. We were getting settled in when a couple of does came to investigate the noise. The way were positioned they were looking at us from a clover field from the right. I have a light complexion and it sometimes seems like they look right at my face. This irritated me and I didn’t feel like getting starred at or stomped at again. Our facemasks were soaked from the morning so Tim handed me the face paint. Then I handed it back and said, “your turn”.

Only a few minutes after we camouflaged our faces it happened. Just like that, Tim says it again. “Grab your bow!!!!” I turn to my right where my X-Force was hanging and slowly turned back to my left and looked down through the trees. By the time I get turned around this buck had already cruised past my lane of opportunity. This huge bodied deer was making his presence known and getting after some blown down branches. I can only see his back end through the foliage. Meanwhile I’m trying to range him. 31 yards. I second guess myself. My shaking hands try again. 39 yards. I can’t hold still. 33 yards. Okay good enough. So I set my pin. Then I hear Tim “Draw! Draw your bow!” I can see him taking a step, but I can’t get my trembling hand to get my release on the loop. My release clips on and I pull back I took one deep breath and burnt that pin right behind only thing I could see through a small lane – his right front shoulder. Before he could take another step I sent my 40KE Rage tipped arrow down through the timber.

Thwack! It tore right through him. I couldn’t believe it had actually happened. I was sure it was a good shot, but I turned to Tim for confirmation. His hand was in the air waiting for my high five. “You smoked him, Babe!” We hadn’t even been in the stand for an hour, and we were high-fiving! I quickly text our guide Rick and after a little convincing that I was done already he came back to help us. When he got to the stand he asked, “How is he?” I honestly didn’t know. Tim had assured me that he was awesome! Until I climbed down and got my hands on him, I had no idea. We followed an easy blood trail for 80 yards. What a feeling! I could barely pick up his heavy head. He turned out to be an amazing 8 pt with a kicker. I got both lungs and the rage made a huge cut.

I was all smiles, and the picture taking started right away. I couldn’t wait to send some pics back home. Now we had to get him out of the woods. Rick brought the 4 wheeler down and Tim climbed on to add some weight to the front end and try and get up this steep hillside. I was laughing hysterically as they attempted it the first time and Tim went flying off and landed flat on the ground. I filmed it all… :) We then headed back to gets some photos with Eric the Hadley Creek photographer. I was still elated and smiling was not a difficult task. What a perfect day. Although I missed Jenna and Jaxon terribly, Tim and I had so much fun on this trip. Pike County is a magical place. Anyone that gets the chance to hunt that part of the state should. I’m so glad I got the opportunity. Thank you to everyone who made it possible. Especially my husband who has me completely hooked on bow hunting now!  -Candice