No Crying in Deer Hunting – My 2017 Buck

Friday, December 8th was a high of 40 degrees, cloudy with a slow North West wind. It was the first real cold front we had since the start of winter so I got in the woods extra early. Deer movement started around 3:15, one after the other crossed the creek for what felt like a good hour and a half.

I knew if I had the opportunity to shoot a decent buck it was going to be hard with so many eyes everywhere, especially since I was sitting on the ground in a fallen down tree. I wasn’t sitting in a comfortable position, my shotgun (H&R 20 gauge) was across my lap and my shooting stick was beside me. I became overwhelmed trying to think of ways to slowly prepare myself to shoot if need be.

A little after prime time rolled around everything I had been watching all afternoon got spooked. I saw nothing but raised white tails flying through the woods everywhere. I automatically assumed I got winded and was honestly surprised with so many deer from every which way it didn’t happen sooner. I finally was able to get in a better position for the last 15 minutes left of shooting light.

I had two does moving quickly back towards me so my mind was at ease again. I said a quick thank you prayer and not a minute later I saw nothing but sky-high antlers coming my way. You could tell he was tired, he was breathing heavy and moving slow. He stayed about 60 yards behind a tree and all I could see was his left front shoulder and head. I pulled my gun up and my face mask fogged my scope, I was FREAKING OUTTTTT. One step back and I wouldn’t have had a chance, I wiped my scope the best I could while trying not to breathe.

I FINALLY pulled the trigger at 5:02pm and he walked back towards the creek like nothing even happened. I instantly called my mom to tell her that I just missed a huge buck and she responded saying “awe its okay maybe next time”……. If you’re a hunter you know how I felt with that response.

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I called my neighbor Jamie who had to listen to my mental breakdown while telling him what happened. I thought for sure I completely missed, I was beating myself up about the whole situation. I went to look for blood and gave up after 15 yards from where he was shot. I walked back to my truck to get my thoughts together and waited for another friend Joicy who was hunting close by to get out of the woods so we could look together. I tried to get myself normal before he saw me but as soon as he asked questions acting “tough” went right out of the truck window. He laughed… a lot.

We continued to look for my buck and a foot past where I stopped tracking the first time there was blood and tons of it. My buck went 30 yards from the tree he was shot at. It was the most dramatic moment of my life, I fell to the ground screaming with joy, crying happy tears this time and looked like an absolute nut job. I apologized to Joicy for having to witness such a horrific Kenna moment but I could not believe I just shot the biggest buck of my life.

I took my buck back to the wildlife office to check him in and had all of my favorite people waiting for me including my parents. It took a few hours for it to truly sink in but once it did I didn’t sleep for days. It will be the most memorable hunt for a very long time. I still think about it often and how incredible it feels to be successful at something you’ve put a lot of time into.

I have the best group of people to look up to when it comes to hunting and I am forever grateful for what they have taught me , continue to teach me and for always helping me when I need it. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!

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Field & Stream / MDOWA Blog Blast

I was invited to the Mason Dixon Outdoor Writers Association (MDOWA) “Blog Blast” that was held in Clear Spring Maryland and sponsored by Field & Stream.

We spent the whole day Friday learning and testing out new products from Field & Stream that were newly released or are soon to be to the outdoor industry. They showed us new tackle gear and some extremely awesome, durable, and affordable priced kayaks. We were able to test out all of the new F&S kayaks in the Big Pool on the C&O canal with the local news station DVM filming us.

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Later in the day we fished a private locally owned pond with the Load Up N Limit Out crew. I was the only person who didn’t catch a fish probably due to all the talking I did / distracted by the local pond residents (ducks), but I watched some monsters get reeled in and lots of smiles on faces.

We ended the evening listening to the most selfless and passionate person I’ve ever met, Rick Wilson who is the founder of Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry.  Rick told us how he started this mission along with the hard work it took, always trusting god and the power of prayer. I had chills the whole time he spoke to us, you could genuinely tell that he is extremely passionate about what he has done and continues to do.

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Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry [FHFH] is a program that helps feed the poor. Farmers and hunters donate their wildgame or livestock to local butcher shops that work with local food banks or ministries. The program started in 1997 and has provided over 16.9 million meals in America. 30 different states take part in this program because of the impact it has made, not only is it feeding the hungry but saving lives. I highly encourage any hunter out there who hasn’t heard of this or even people who don’t hunt to take some time to check out the website – Farmers & Hunters Feeding The Hungry. If you are feeling generous or looking to give back to the community there is ways to donate without harvesting an animal listed online. Any donation would be greatly appreciated from not only FHFH but the outdoor community as well, 1 deer feeds 200 people.​

   This morning we woke up early so that the adventures could continue, we spent the whole day at Polecat Hollow hunt club.  Hamilton Nissan brought two of the new Titans for us to put to the test on some really rough terrain but they had no idea what was happening or at least to that extreme. It was hard not to laugh but the Nissan salesman that rode with us knew the roads just as well as we did. He was a nervous wreck and kept swearing we weren’t suppose to be going up “that mountain”. I just kept telling him it was gonna be okay especially since I’m driving (LOL)…. we soon took a u turn that was more risky than driving at a 90 degree angle. To each his own.

Say goodbye to your $140 calls!!!! We met the CEO Vince and Vice President Travis of Kid Magic Game Calls, a father son duo that defines the saying “teach em young”. They have a variety of different slate calls, predator calls and duck calls that sounds great for an extremely reasonable price. Travis and his son Vince have worked and are continuing to work hard to make sure others can hunt with a call that is fun, easy, reliable, and reasonable.

Some of the coaches and students at Clear Spring Middle who are part of the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) came out today to demonstrate how the program is ran in a school system and how well students do with the sport. One of the middle school students mentioned that its taught her lots of life lessons in and outside of school. Many Clear Spring students have won multiple state tournaments. NASP is growing on many schools still but has really taught kids what they are capable of. Parents, teachers and coaches who have children involved with it truly believe all schools should offer the program.

Last but not least, we ended our day with a little side by side action on the mountains and my first rock climbing experience. Thanks to Twigg Cycles for letting us test out some new 2017 UTVs, the Polaris RZR S 570 was sooooo much fun!!!

As for MDOWA and Field & Streams I can’t thank you enough for the past two days and the opportunities that you guys made possible. It was an absolute blast!!!!!

If you’d like to read more about the trip, below are websites of other outdoor bloggers that attended:

Natural Pursuit Outdoors

Load Up N Limit Out

Kat Hass Outdoors

Its A Wanderful Life

Poor Girls Open 2016

Way late on posting this, but the highlight of my summer was without a doubt the Poor Girls Open. It’s an all ladies  billfish release tournament that raises money for breast cancer research. The tournament took place August 18th-20th at Bahia Marina in Ocean City MD.

Sport fishing is loved by many but fishing while supporting a good cause was more rewarding than any fish that could have been caught that weekend.

161 boats, 747 lady anglers and a record total of $192,035 raised. AMAZINGGG!

Huge thank you to Turn Me Loose Charters for the best time ever

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Congratulations Playmate on taking first place!!!!

Many of us know someone who needs a cure, so whether its prayers or a donation every little bit counts.

Click Here To Donate to the American Cancer Society 

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“Armed with a Bow and Her Words, Union Daughter Encourages Women In the Outdoors” By: Laura Oberle

When Union Sportsmens Alliance (USA) member McKenna Merkel bought her first bow at age 17, a male co- worker scoffed, “Good luck. You never kill anything with that.”

She tried to shake it off, and with advice from experienced bow hunters, McKenna dedicated countless hours practicing until she achieved consistently close groupings in the vitals. She thought she had the bow mastered and anticipated a smooth, successful hunting season.

McKenna soon learned the woods were a different world than the practice field. She ended her first bow season with two trees, a ground blind and only two arrows left out of a dozen. She couldn’t get those initial negative words out of her mind and was starting to believe she would never kill anything with her bow.

“It’s all I thought about when I hunted,” McKenna said. “I was so angry and disappointed”

Last summer, McKenna, now 21, started a blog called McKenna Outdoors to share her experiences and connect with other outdoor enthusiasts. She hopes to send a message of support and encouragement to aspiring bow hunters. In one of her blog posts, McKenna wrote about that first bow hunting season and the fire it lit within. She practiced archery almost every day, and although the next bow season wasn’t instantly successful, one rainy afternoon she ventured into the woods alone and dropped her first doe.

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McKenna Merkel harvested her first deer after relentlessly practicing her archery in the off season.

” I was standing in the tree stand, screaming with excitement McKenna said. “I still get chills thinking about it”

 As the doe collapsed by McKenna’s hand, the power of that unnerving jab also died. She had, in fact, killed something with her bow. Armed with her experience and her words McKenna is resolute to make a positive impact on women in the outdoors. According to her readers, she is succeeding.

“You’re the poster child of what it takes to be successful and the kind of kid I want my kid to hang around,” one reader commented “(You) inspire my daughter every time she sees your posts!” wrote another.

Born and raised on her family farm in Bowie, Maryland , McKenna’s love of the outdoors began at an early age. She spent her free time with her dad at turkey shoots, deer hunting, fishing or helping around the farm. As she grew older, she took ownership of her outdoors interests, which evolved into a lifestyle

“Growing up on a farm not only taught me responsibility but more than that, it gave me this sense of freedom ” McKenna said.

She also developed a strong work ethic through the example set by her mother, Cathy Merkel, a union member and registrar for the United Association. “She is extremely dedicated to her job, cares a lot about her fellow union members and is such a hard worker” McKenna said of her mother.

Through her mother’s membership in the office and Professional Employees International Union, McKenna joined the USA as a family member.

” I chose to be a member because I wanted to be a part of helping wildlife conservation and connect with other outdoor enthusiasts I could learn from,” McKenna said. “There is so much to learn when it comes to the outdoors, and I’ve learned a lot through the USA”

McKenna has been an active member since 2013, attending on conservation dinners and sharing photos of her outdoors endeavors.

“Since I can remember, McKenna has loved the outdoors ” Cathy said. “The folks at the USA are awesome with people and have left a great impression on McKenna”

 Through the ideals of hard work, respect, gratitude and perseverance, McKennas message rings true to those in the outdoor community. “A hunt is successful whether you harvest something or not” McKenna said. “It’s about being outdoors. I want to encourage present, practicing and future bow hunters to never give up. Determination brings success”

Fishing the canyons on the Bubblehead! 

Fishing the Canyons – OCMD – July 3rd 2016

Too soon for a Flash back Friday? Took the awesome #GoPro footage one of the guys got from last Sunday and redid a short video of all the highlights throughout the day. The ending is the best part & I literally can’t wait to go again!!!!!!!

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance -Capital Area Shoot at Pintail Point

A couple months ago I was interviewed for the 2016 summer sportsmen’s journal as the spotlight member! Friday I had the privilege of meeting Patch Duncan who is also being featured in the journal as the winner of the #Carhartt Bass tournament. Friday Patch won with the highest score (78/100) in his division. HUGE thank you to @unionsportsmen for all of their hard work, it was a blast!!!!

Union Sportsmen Posted:
@kennaoutdoors & Mark/Patch Duncan (@carhartt bass winner) will be featured in the summer issue of the Union Sportsmen’s Journal #UnionSportsmen #Beretta  #Stoeger #Carhartt #PintailPoint #IBEW #UA #WhiteFlyer #SportingClays

 

All she takes is selfies when she hunts….

 

Typically every female has heard at least once in their life that they take to many selfies and if you selfie while you hunt then you are just a wilderness wannabe …… Ehhh you’re pretty much wrong but i’ll admit I get selfie fever when its been slow in the stand. BUTTT I can explain! We have a reason, or at least a good excuse!

The latest trending photo collage for the majority of female outdoor enthusiasts on Instagram has been Social Vs. Stealth. Therefore we are probably doing it for that free month of May Sportsmans Box or those super cute 9mm earrings from Hot Brass & Co.  You’d be crazy to sit still in a tree stand or a blind when you know a good giveaway is going on and the picture lighting couldn’t be better. Plus it’s the perfect time to post how hot you were on Friday night without your boyfriend getting mad at you for posting it cause you know you looked good. #SorryNotSorry

On a more serious note, for as many camera shutter snaps that have probably scared deer away I still think Social Vs. Stealth is a neat way for girls to show who they truly are. A majority of us (girls who hunt) connect through the same passion. It’s easy to forget that there is life outside of what we love. Even though its social media we still look at all these huntress’ lives everyday wishing we could hunt that, or hike there or shoot this ,etc… but what we don’t remember is how hard they might of worked to get to that point. Whether your social selfie is from work, school or the bar it shows what else you’re made of. You might not be climbing mountains if you keep socializing over captain and cokes but at least you probably met some of the nicest drunk girls in the bathroom who could go add one more like to your Social Vs. Stealth entry.

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You’re right, I don’t know half of my followers on social media but I do know that the female hunting population has grown and continues to grow everyday. Being able to connect with other girls who hunt or fish is awesome, as we all support each other and learn from one another. We stick together and we don’t give up easily on the goals we have; instead we lead one another to the right source. We see and learn what more the world has to offer and we live vicariously through each other in hopes that one day we can take the same adventure. So whether you win that free subscription or not, always “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”  

-Kenna 💗