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October 4: Melody Rising

Story told by Melody Rising:

The past year has been a year of many changes. I had been in the Real Estate business for over 2yrs working with a local company that became family to me. Ben received a phone call from Whitetail Properties because they were moving into Ohio and he had been referred to them as a possible agent. After much consideration Ben did not feel that it was the right career move for him at the time but recommended me to them. It was a dream job for me. Specializing in land, hunting farms and gas & oil was exactly why I had entered the real estate business and I knew that this move to this company was the best move for my career and family goals. It just fit us perfectly. So I applied, went through the entire interview process with them, shed many tears leaving my previous company and became the first Ohio Whitetail Properties agent.

This move was at the start of last yrs hunting season. With so many changes and time not on my side, I only got out a few times. Everytime I passed several nice bucks and was not able to get a shot on one really nice one. I ended up eating my tag….

Ben has a small lease of about 20 acres that he has been hunting for 2yrs. Last yr there were no shooters but this yr he was getting a few good trail pics of a deer that we named Unicorn. Every year I always try to “claim” the funky ones. Not sure why but the more weird they are the more I like them! There is no explanation needed as to why we named him this once you see the pics. Ben agreed that I should go after this one. He had several early morning pics of Unicorn coming into a small food plot but only after dark photos in the evenings. After about two wks he was only getting photos in the dark.

Earlier this week Ben decided to go in and set up a ground blind while it was raining to cover his scent and any noise that he would be making. Friday night a cold front started to move in and the temps dropped 20 degrees by the next morning. Time again is not on my side!! The next month is massively booked for me between Whitetail Properties and gearing up for this season of our Wicked Ridge Outfitting business. The plan for Saturday was that I was going to spend all day working painting the house we are using for Wicked Ridge and Ben was going to go out with one of his buddies. Before I left for to paint Ben’s buddy txt and said that his wife was in labor with their first child. Obviously that changed Ben’s plans! I debated for about 30 min on what I should do. Ben had a hunch that maybe this first cold front would get Unicorn up and moving. I finally decided that knowing I may not get another chance to get back out in probably over a month, that I would go ahead and go out with him and put off painting for one more day….

We got set up in the blind early anticipating early movement. After about 45min we had 3 does come in, circled around and cut our tracks and ran off. After about an hr we had another doe come in and do the exact same thing. At this point we had almost given up afraid Unicorn would come out and a doe would do the same thing and scare him off. Since it was getting late we decided to sit it out and see what would happen. We tightened up the blind and cranked the ozonics up high. About an hr after the last doe scared off two small does and a small buck came in. Only 10min later Unicorn and a huge 7 came in together. I could not see them from where I was positioned but Ben was catching it all on film. I quickly and quietly moved off of my stool and crouched down on my knees. The bucks circled around and the 7pt took the same route as the does did and Ben thought for sure they were going to cut our tracks and take off just like the does did. But he didn’t! Once Ben saw Unicorn headed our way he told me to draw and I tried. I have been having shoulder issues and it must have been the cold, tension or combination…but I could not come to a full draw! It felt like my shoulder was being ripped apart. I really only had a few seconds of him in sight anyways before he went behind a tree. He stayed there for what felt like eternity until he stepped back out to the left. In the meantime buck fever had set in and I was shaking uncontrollably. Ben later said that the entire blind was shaking and he thought for sure I was going to spook them. I really didn’t think we were going to get it done. Once he did step out, I still don’t know how but I forced myself to full draw, steadily aim and let the arrow fly. Upon impact it seemed to be a good slightly quartering away hit. But once he moved the Nockturnal seemed a bit low and back farther than I thought. All the deer took off to the left of us including Unicorn. About 30 seconds after he left our sight we heard thrashing in the woods but was unsure if it was him falling or another being spooked and taking off.  It was low light and another doe had returned to the field so we decided to get out as fast and quiet as we could to go home and review the footage. Due to Ben’s angle of footage being different than my shot, we decided to wait until morning to go track him. Talk about a long night with no sleep! I spent most of the night awake on a heating pad and in pain.

The next morning we geared up to go search. A buddy and our youngest son, Briar went with us. There was little blood but it was dark and a good sign. My 6yr old found the most blood. I think because he is so short and closer to the ground. At one point we lost the blood trail and could not figure out if he went to the left, straight or to the right. So we split up. Our buddy actually found him about 75yds from where he was shot. We back tracked his path and found where he had tried to jump a very low lying broken down fence and obviously just couldn’t do it. Any deer could of practically just stepped over it so it was obvious he was injured. If he had jumped that fence, he would of entered into restricted land and I may have not been able to recover him! He apparently fell to his left which is where he was hit and the arrow then stuck into the ground and came out of him when he got back up. The arrow was sticking straight up with the rage still intact. Thank God my son did not go that way and run into it!!  Unicorn had turned and went about another 10ft and just dropped straight down on all fours. The arrow had hit him quartering away like we had thought and hit a little of his gut, liver and lung!!

Relieved is an understatement!! We had many things that should have gone completely wrong with this hunt!! How they didn’t, we can’t explain but obviously I had a little help from above. At one point in that blind I said a prayer and at the end I asked my Pap Pap to just help me out a little… I truly feel blessed, thankful and humbled! A huge Thank You goes out to my husband. NEVER could of accomplished all I have without his support!!