The Ryan Chelius Buck
"Beginners Buck"

By Ryan Chelius

Ryan Chelius, 15, shot this 200-pound, 8-point buck on November 24, 2012, while hunting in Putnam County NY

It was a cool, clear morning as I stepped out of the car to head into the woods. Stars filled the sky as I walked into the woods for only my second deer hunt ever. My dad and I made it to our deer blind a half hour before sunrise. I sat there excited not knowing what to expect. The sun peaked over the mountain and the beautiful colors of fall started to show. I could hear the acorns falling from Oak trees. A Pileated woodpecker flew from tree to tree, and Gray squirrels jumped in the leaves. It was a beautiful morning to be in the woods.

My dad and I were not expecting to see many deer since it was the second week of the southern zone, and the deer had been pounded pretty hard already. A few hours went by and it was ten thirty. I was freezing because the wind had been blowing hard right into my face all morning. My dad and I decided to walk over to our friends blind which was empty because he could not make it. It was much more comfortable being out of the wind.

As I was sitting there listening to my dad's old tales I caught movement in the corner of my eye! It was a doe trotting along with two other doe's right behind her. I could not get a shot but we were sure they would come up the hill toward us. As my dad was trying to get into better position he stepped on a twig. At the sound of the crunch the three deer pounced out of the thick mountain laurel with their tails up. Even though I did not get a shot I was thrilled just to see deer.

Now it was about one o'clock and we decided to take a walk to the other side of the ridge and give the hunt a couple more hours. My dad and I have never hunted this side of the ridge so we did not know where to go. We found an area that looked good with great shooting lanes. So we got set up and waited. I guess the long day got to me as I was sound asleep leaning on a tree. My dad woke me up and said "let's move down fifty yards and give it another half hour."

We found a big rock and I sat facing one way and my dad sat facing the other way. We were sticking out like a sore thumb. I thought there is no way a deer is not going to see us. As I was fighting to stay awake, the branches I was looking at started to move. I closed and opened my eyes and I realized that the branches were antlers! Then a two hundred pound eight point buck steps out fifty yards away from me! I whispered "Dad huge buck!" He couldn't say anything but I knew what to do.

My heart was beating so fast I thought it was going to come out of my chest! I brought the gun up, shaking like crazy! I looked through the scope and BOOM! The buck dropped right in his tracks! I could not believe it, I turned to my dad and he said, "You are the luckiest kid in the world!" It sure felt that way! I cannot even count how many times I've been laying in bed playing out that exact scenario. I walked over and put my hands on the magnificent animal.  It was truly a dream come true to shoot a buck like that and to have the man who has taught me everything I know about hunting right beside me. We hauled the deer a mile out of the woods, put it on the deer carrier and drove to the taxidermist. I have told this story over one hundred times and when people say you have beginners luck, I say "No I have beginners buck!" 

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