Mady’s Quest For A Deer With Her Bow

Hunter's Journal: Readers Share Their Favorite Hunt Stories

Reader Contributed | November 1, 2011

By Mark Wiley

My wife and I have been avid hunters for 15 years and knew our kids would have no choice but to follow in our footsteps. We have two children together, Madeline, 11, and Olivia, 9. Before they could even walk, the kids were in the woods hunting with their parents.

Kids are never short on questions, and believe me, when you’re sitting with a 5-year-old for two hours in a tree stand, there are plenty of questions. We taught and showed them everything we knew and hoped it would take root. Fortunately, all of our time and effort has paid off.

Madeline started hunting with a .223 rifle when she was 7 years old. She was so excited when it was finally time for her to hunt with a rifle. We took her hunting every chance we got. Finally, one evening while hunting a doe stepped into range. I picked up the single-shot .223, checked the safety, pulled the hammer back and helped get her in position. That was easier said than done. While sitting on my knee, she aimed and fired. The doe jumped and ran into the woods. The excitement was short lived, and she learned a valuable lesson: Don’t close your eyes when you pull the trigger.

Everything happened so fast, and she was so nervous she closed her eyes as she shot. We were both disappointed, but she’s a trooper and understands that missing is part of hunting.

About a week later, we were hunting from the same stand, and another doe came in to about 50 yards. Mady and I were both shaking with anticipation. We readied the rifle, and she squeezed the trigger. The mature doe fell where she stood. I sat there in shock. She did it! The waves of emotion then set in for both of us.

When we got down out of the stand and walked over to the deer, she sat beside it, cried and started petting the doe’s head, not out of guilt but out of respect. I really can’t even put into words how proud I was of Mady. If you have ever witnessed your kids taking their first animal, you know how it feels. That moment changed my life. It was then I knew my daughter was hooked on hunting and that my wife and I had done our job as hunters.

During 2009, she started asking about bowhunting. She hated that her mom and I got to start hunting a month before she could. So, we bought her a BowTech Razor. The bow had 19- to 29-lb. limbs, and I told her that when she was ready to upgrade to the 30-to 60-lb. limbs, she could hunt.

Immediately she started practicing, and I was amazed at how quickly she learned. She continued to hunt with a rifle that year because we told her she had to shoot her bow for a year and show us she was ready before shooting at a living creature.

So that hunting season came and went without a deer, but the entire time she practiced with her bow. I may be a little biased, but I have never seen a 10-year-old be so dedicated and determined to accomplish a goal.

By the start of the 2010 season, she was ready. We had upgraded her bow, and she was pulling enough draw weight to hunt. Mady had gotten very consistent at shooting and was out-shooting her parents at 20 yards.

Her mom took her out a few times with no success, and then one night a doe stepped into the 20-yard range, and she again learned a valuable lesson. Just because you hit the deer doesn’t mean you’ll find the deer. We followed blood for 100 yards, and the trail ended. We looked and looked but never found the doe. Mady was very upset. She wasn’t upset about not getting her deer but about injuring it. That episode just made her more determined. That same year during rifle season she harvested her first buck, a young 7-pointer. It was another goal achieved, and we couldn’t have been any happier.

So now came the 2011 hunting season. Mady was ready to try to take her first  deer with her bow. A couple evenings went by without seeing a deer.

The second weekend we went out before daylight, and we were in the stand for 15 minutes. A small 8-pointer came out. This deer came to 10 yards, but it was still too dark. At daylight, the buck was still there, and she let the arrow go. The buck ran off laughing at us. Another lesson learned: Shooting at a real deer is different than shooting at your deer target in your yard. She shot right over his back. That was a big blow to Mady. That was the shot she had been waiting for, but again she has been around hunting enough to understand and learn from her mistakes. My wife and I always told her every miss makes you a better hunter.

A week of school went by, and it was finally the weekend. Mady asked me to bring her target to the woods and let her shoot from the stand we hunt out of. So I did, and she shot until she couldn’t draw her bow back any more. We went out that same night, and finally all the stars aligned.

A young doe traveling by herself started walking toward us. Mady decided to stay seated and get her bow ready, and I got the video camera ready. The adrenaline kicked in, she started shaking and breathing hard, but this time she controlled it. The doe stepped in to range and finally turned quartering away. Mady drew and released.

The doe jumped and trotted off 20 yards and lay down. Within a few minutes, the doe was still, and we were done. Mady said, “I did it” and shook harder than I had ever seen her shake before. We hugged and just sat there for a few minutes taking it all in. After all the hours of practicing and all the hours of answering her questions, she got her first bow-kill.


Besides her birth, my wife and I had never been so proud. We were amazed how composed and smooth she was under pressure even with deer fever running through her veins. You can’t teach that, you get it from experience. She is so confident, careful and knowledgeable about the outdoors and deer hunting to only be 11 years old. Her reaction and the smile on her face when that deer went down will be forever etched in my memory.

If you are a hunter and you have a child who shows interest, or know of a child who wants to go hunting but doesn’t have a place or someone to take them, step up. I promise you will get more enjoyment out of watching them be successful than if it were you. My weapon of choice is a video camera.

My youngest daughter Olivia is also a hunter. We are looking forward to this year being the year for her to harvest her first with a rifle. We gave her a Mathews Mission bow for her birthday, and now she is starting to practice. Maybe this time next year I will be writing again.

Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.