by: Megan Ellenburg
My one and only hunting experience ever prior to this hunt was in South Africa in 2011. I know it sounds kind of crazy, but my parents lived in Africa. I was very fortunate and able to harvest an impala and a blesbok with a rifle. After the trip, I really did think about wanting to hunt again, but I never did.
I was fortunate enough to marry a man that loves the outdoors, which gave me an avenue back into the outdoor world. My #1 goal to start was to harvest a whitetail deer. But, I told my husband, “I’m going to do it with a bow!” No one in my family bow hunts, and I honestly don’t think any of them took me very seriously when I said I was going to get it done. I started from scratch. Pure determination had me asking around and going in to many bow shops until I found my perfect match, an Eva Shockey Signature Series. I purchased the bow in July 2016 and practiced pretty much every day the weather permitted for months. I had some help from a friend on the Texas A&M archery team, which made a huge difference in the way I shoot, and continued on from there.
My family was planning a trip to go hunting in December of 2016, but I’d had my bow for 4 months and was ready to use it! I’ve never been a very patient person. I booked a hunt for myself at Brushy Hill Ranch in Sabinal, Texas. It is archery only, and I took advantage of the ability to hire a wonderful guide, Nick Anderson. I told him straight up “I have no idea how to hunt with a bow. That’s why I want a guided hunt. Just teach me.” He was all in. We planned on my coming for just a 2 day trip the weekend of November 11-13th. The goal was for me to learn as much as I could about archery hunting and to hopefully harvest something, really ANYTHING. I wanted to break the ice and get started as a bow hunter.
I arrived at the ranch and the owners Pete and Ava Denney were more than accommodating. They don’t usually have women come hunt on their own, which I wasn’t surprised by. But, like I said, I was determined. Nick was wonderful, he showed me how to set up a blind, where to look to put one up, how to tell if a deer is legal, and gave me tons of advice on shooting and calming my nerves.
On the first night, I got so nervous that I missed a doe completely! I shot inches to the left of the deer. I was so disappointed in myself, but I learned a valuable lesson right away. Shooting an animal is nothing like shooting a target, and you cannot let your excitement or fear take over you. You must go through all of the steps and check points in your head the same way as when you shoot at the range.
“I’d had my bow for 4 months and was ready to use it!”
The second day we went out, I was determined to put the lesson I learned the night before to practice. Nick and I waited, then out of nowhere in the distance Nick sees a beautiful 10 point buck and says “he is headed this way.” My heart started pounding, my breathing quickened, and I was so nervous. I had to remind myself not to let the fear or excitement control me. I mean, I was already freaking out, and I hadn’t even seen the thing yet! Then he walked into view, and oh my gosh he was indeed beautiful. I started to freak out and Nick reminded me to breath steady and to remember to shoot just like I would at the range. Go though my checkpoints. The buck got to 25 yards. I thought it though, anchor point, nose on string, peep, glance at the level on the sight, aim, release. And I hit him! I was so excited that I basically jumped up and down in the blind. Nick and I both could tell that the shot was a little to the left. Not only that, but my arrow did not pass through and was sticking out pretty far. I feared that we wouldn’t recover him, and we didn’t. I went back to the lodge and cried for an hour. I felt like all my practice and all my determination had led up to that moment, and I blew it.
In the morning, we decided to try for a doe, which I did not get. Then we set out to try and find my buck. I was hoping for the best, but knew I was probably going to receive the worst. Nick got his dog Chica out of the car, and I couldn’t believe it, but she went straight to him! Nick goes “Well there’s your buck” and then proceeded to be hugged by me at least three times while screaming in excitement!
I still can’t believe it! My first time hunting in the U.S., my first time bowhunting, my third game hunt ever, and I managed to bag a mature 136 5/8″ whitetail buck! How is that even possible?!?!? All of my determination, hard work, time researching, going from bow shop to bow shop all on my own, and spending countless hours in the range paid off in more ways then I could ever imagine. I proved to myself that if you want something, you can go out and take it. “She believed she could, so she did” is a quote that I will think of every time I see my mount on the wall next to that Pope and Young certificate. Thank you Brushy Hill Ranch, Nick Anderson and Bowtech for helping make my dreams come true!