January 01, 2017

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being an educator is to listen to the delightful, sometimes profound, and often humorous things that children say (I’m thinking of a Kindergartener at my school glowing when he said, “Hey, Mr. B. aren’t you happy the New England Pastries won the Super Bowl?!”)

Along those lines, I recently interviewed several young ladies-spanning ages 10 to 14-that have had successful deer hunts in Northwest Michigan. I’ve gleaned some of their words of wisdom that we all might employ when trying to replicate their accomplishments.

Ten-year-old Emileigh Schlappi, of Petoskey, downed the first deer of her life during the youth hunt. She was hunting on her own property when she took the 5-pointer. Emileigh may be the only kid in Northwest Michigan whose deer blind is also part of her backyard playscape! Dad’s a master carpenter and has converted part of the wooden structure to a second floor blind, complete with chairs and camouflage netting.

Emileigh looks forward to when her sister, eight-year-old Addi, will join them in their quest to put lean, organic, hormone-free meat on their table. She doesn’t eat many kinds of meat but smiled, “venison is my favorite type of meat to eat especially when we make tacos, lasagna, and chili out of it. It’s terrific!”

Sophie Cranny and her hefty Harbor Springs 8-pointer photo by Author photo.

When asked to share her favorite thing about deer hunting the good-natured young lady said, “I really just love being outdoors so I can watch deer and other wildlife and learn about their habits.” Wise words, indeed.

Another savvy young huntress is 11-year-old Kaylee Drake of Afton. Her mom, Jenn, owns a successful hunting business called Drake’s Guiding Service (989-306-2891). In addition to deer, mom guides Up North hunters in pursuit of elk, bear, turkey and bobcat.

Kaylee out-smarted a 5-point buck last fall and dropped him from 110 yards using a 6-mm. rifle.

When I asked her what the key was to taking the antlered gentleman she said, “It paid off that I did a lot of target shooting so I could hit the deer exactly where I wanted to.”

Kaylee hunts with a compound bow, crossbow, and rifle. Her fondest experience is watching her mom take a deer and helping her to track it.

“I’ve learned a lot from my mom and really enjoy being out in nature with her!” she chortled.

Ten-year old Molly Arthur of Petoskey took the first buck of her life last season. She employed a .218 Bee rifle to do so. The spike horn was dropped near Petoskey on her granddads property.

Her advice to other girls interested in deer hunting was, “It’s really fun to be out there, especially when hunting with your family. My dad and step-mom taught me and she is actually hunting right now!”

Molly’s favorite thing about the experience is, “Eating the meat! We love venison!”

She added, “I really liked tracking the deer too. Looking for a blood trail and hunting for the buck!”

The most experienced young huntress in this herd is 14-year-old Sophie Cranny of Harbor Springs. Her mom, Angie, is an avid bow-hunter and owner of Archer Full Throttle on-line hunting store (www.archerfullthrottle.com). Sophie is a student of the art and science of hunting and-because she’s so petite-has mastered the use of a crossbow.

She said, “I have a pink and purple Barnett crossbow and have taken three bucks with it. My largest buck was last year when I got an 8-point in the Harbor Springs area.”

Tapping into her expertise I asked what are two “golden nuggets” she has learned that have led to her success as a hunter. Grinning, Sophie responded, “Definitely patience and good sportsmanship. As a hunter you have to learn how to be very patient because many times you can sit out there for hours and not see any deer. I also love to take others hunting and give them the sort of opportunities I’ve had to be a successful hunter!” The ninth grader continued, “Always stay positive and be supportive of others you are hunting with. We definitely like to show new people how much fun deer hunting is!”

Sophie continued, “My earliest memory of hunting is when I was three years old. The hunter- safety people made a special harness for me to wear to be safe in the blind. I was really excited when I spotted a blood trail and that I could actually help!” She hunted much less this year because her time has been allocated to training a Deutsch Drahthaar puppy named Sammy to help with deer tracking and retrieving.

These four young ladies certainly reinforce that deer hunting is far from being only a “good-old boys” undertaking. We can all learn from them, and their countless kindred-sisters, who frequent deer blinds from Houghton to Harsens Island and Sault Ste. Marie to South Haven.