After 7 years of deer hunting, 1st shot yields 10-point buck

ON THE OUTDOORS

November 30, 1995|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

HOLLYWOOD -- During a pause on the walk out from the south tract of Greenwell State Park in St. Mary's County yesterday, Kathy Menard pushed the hunter-orange knit cap back from her face and made a small smile. Again.

"My mother-in-law said I was crazy to come out in all this weather today," Menard said, and, for a second or two, allowed that small smile to widen into a small grin. Again.

"She said it was raining and it might snow, but she took my kids so I could come out and try again."

Menard, who works as a cook in a local restaurant, had been coming out during deer firearms season since 1988 -- rain, snow or shine -- and never had killed a deer or even taken a shot in the field.

This season, Menard had reason to smile.

A couple of months ago, Menard, her husband, Rick, and 94 other hunters applied for permits for an abbreviated, managed deer hunt at Greenwell State Park, a 600-plus-acre tract close to the Patuxent River.

"You know, the odds of what she has done are pretty long," said DNR Wildlife Division Park Ranger Tim Fabian, who is coordinating hunting activity on the tract. "She was down the list of applicants after the drawing for permits, and she got to hunt today only because we had some other hunters who got their deer elsewhere and canceled."

During later breaks on the walk out, Fabian said that although the park was acquired from the Greenwell family, starting in 1978, the Department of Natural Resources had not allowed deer hunting of any kind on the tract until this year.

For the first seven days of this season, the land was made available to 10 hunters per day, half of whom were required to be physically challenged. During the second week of firearms season, the park will be closed to hunting.

"You know, there were times early this morning that I was wondering a little about why I was out here today -- I mean it really was cold, wet and windy," said Menard, who is not physically challenged.

"But those few seconds, when that buck walked out almost next to where I was, those few seconds made it worth the years of trying and an hour and a half of waiting [yesterday morning]."

Knowing ahead of time which area she was assigned to hunt allowed Menard and her husband to get out Tuesday afternoon and select a tree-stand site. Nick Menard, an avid bow hunter, chose wisely, his wife said.

"He put me in a spruce tree on a point along the field, where there would be good lines of sight to the left and right and, of course, where there were bucks' rubs and game trails," Menard said.

There also was a gully leading up from a small stream and deep cover nearby within the woods.

"And if you take a look at the field in front of where she was," said Fabian, "enough deer had been moving across regularly that it looked like a cattle drive had moved through.

"But, still, she had to pick the shot, make it and track the game -- and no one really knows whether they can do all that until it is done."

At 30 to 40 yards, Menard shot the buck once, through the heart. The whitetail ran fewer than 100 yards into the woods before collapsing.

"My husband always told me, once you have made your shot, give it 10 to 15 minutes before getting down to find it," Menard said. "So I waited and tried to guess how big it was, how many points it had."

When Menard found the buck, she said, she "turned it over and looked and turned it over and looked at it again."

The buck, taken on her only shot during seven years of deer hunting, dressed out between 140 and 160 pounds and had a symmetrical rack of 10 points.

"The first thing I wanted to do was call my husband and tell him," Menard said, as a small knot of people gathered in the park parking lot.

"He was scheduled to go into work today, but if I called him I thought maybe he'd go in late or something."

"Yeah," quipped Fabian, "maybe he'll call in and tell his boss his wife just made him sick."

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