Kate Myers, along with father, Mike Myers, wait for a chance to harvest a doe during the 2020 holiday antlerless deer gun season
Editors Note: Oklahoma 9th-grader Kate Myers gave a speech at a state FFA speech contest this year about her recent introduction to the world of hunting, which took place last year just in time to participate in the last day of the holiday antlerless deer gun season. Although she didn't harvest a deer that day, her story shows that she grasps so much more about the sport of hunting than just successfully tagging a deer. She learns about wildlife management, game laws, shooting, and she daydreams about something we can all look forward to - venison tacos! She even gives a nod to the Wildlife Department's Outdoor Oklahoma Journal, so it's only fitting that we feature her speech right here on the Journal! Her story tells us just how quickly a person can dive in, learn, and be part of the hunting tradition. Below is the transcript of her speech, which placed in the top 10 for it's contest category. As for Kate, we hear that she's already making plans to be part of the 2021 youth deer gun season, slated for Oct. 15-17.
Between pandemics and winter storms, I’ve been finding myself at home quite a bit these days. For my family of six, being at home means that we eat a lot of delicious, home-cooked meals, and plenty of PB&J sandwiches, of course. Some of my favorites include homemade chili with Fritos, hamburger stew with rich gravy and spaghetti with meat balls. But this last year, I was surprised to learn about the shortage of fresh meat products, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Beef and other meats were difficult to find and even harder to afford. The crisis left Americans everywhere asking, “Where’s the Meat?”
One day, as I was doing homework for my agricultural education class, I came across an article in the Outdoor Oklahoma Journal about maintaining a healthy buck to doe ratio when considering deer hunting. Since my dad is an avid hunter, this article caught my attention and a light bulb went off! Pan-fried backstrap, venison tacos… and I could be a hero for my family!
From what I learned, hunters who are conscious of population health are wise to take a doe. Too many does means that a large number will not get bred during the primary rut. This extends the rut and causes stress on bucks. It also results in fawns being born later in the Spring, which is more difficult for both fawns and mothers.
Then I read through the Wildlife Department’s Big Game Report and discovered that hunters in my county were harvesting more bucks than does. During the 2018 - 2019 season, 513 bucks were taken versus only 338 does.
With venison tacos on my mind, and providing meat for my family on my heart, I resolved that I, Kate Myers, would harvest a doe this season. There was only one problem...I didn’t know how to hunt. In fact, I’d never even shot a rifle. To make matters worse, the season had already begun, so I’d have to act fast.
Lucky for me, I have always been a daddy’s girl, and I knew my hunter dad would jump at the opportunity to teach me. He had even purchased a .243 caliber gun in hopes that one of his daughters would want to learn the sport.
Step One: Learn how to safely shoot a rifle. The next weekend, my dad and I went to my grandad's pasture where I learned how to load a cartridge and shoulder a rifle. Next, we measured off 100 yards. Boom! I hit the old rusty piece of metal that served as our target. By the end of the day, I was shooting 3-inch groups.
Step Two: Get a license. The Wildlife Department offers an apprentice-designated hunting license. An adult, would have to accompany me and be within arms-length of the gun, or close enough to take control of the weapon if needed. I purchased a deer tag and was now legal to hunt. I was hunting the holiday antlerless season, and I wanted to be conscious of what I had learned, so I knew what I was after - a doe.
Step Three: Find a place to hunt. A short conversation at church, and we had the perfect spot to go. (Perks of living in the country!)
Step Four: Wake up very early. This step may have been the most difficult. “What’s going on?” I wondered. It was the middle of the night and my dad was giving me a gentle shaking to get me out of bed. He said, “dress warm, it’s 18 degrees outside,” and then left to start the truck. “Venison tacos,” I thought to myself. “I can do this.”
Step Five: The big hunt. It was pitch black and frigid outside. I proudly slipped into my hunter orange best, and quietly closed the pickup door. We hiked to our spot and waited. The sky soon began to fill with shades of blue and pink. I double-checked the safety and practiced in my mind what I would do when I saw a deer, where I would aim, even pulling back the trigger. Wait... how was I going to pull the trigger? My fingers were numb! Dad to the rescue. He pulled out hand warmers. I gave them a good shake and stuffed them into my gloves.
Step Six: The shot. I think my dad is asleep, so I elbow him. I see a brown shape in the trees. My dad whispers, “Wait ‘til they step out into the open.” Three deer slowly move from the woods out into the pasture. One was a great big buck. The second was a smaller buck, and the third was a big doe. I slowly raised my gun, clicked off the safety… “Don’t shoot,” my dad whispered in my ear. “Look at the doe, through your scope,” he said. When I did, I saw tiny antlers. Three deer, all within 40 yards of me, and none legal to shoot.
That day, we saw nothing else. On the drive home I thought about the adventure we just had. The excitement of watching deer up close, how cold my hands were, and how I couldn’t wait to go hunting again. In just a few weeks, I learned about deer population management, hunting laws, how to shoot... and venison tacos. I just can’t stop thinking about venison tacos!
Editor's Wrap-Up: Want to be part of the 2021 fall hunting season? There's so much to explore, from early September dove hunting to the frigid mornings described above during the holiday antlerless deer gun season. If you're up for it, you've come to the right place. Explore the Outdoor Oklahoma Journal and the rest of wildlifedepartment.com for how to make your hunting season a success. Don't forget to check out the 2021-22 hunting regulations and, if you're 16 or older, get a hunting license!