By Darlene McCormick Sanchez
Rachel Anderson spent the weekend of her 30th birthday on the cold, hard ground behind a ghost blind. Probably not the way most people would celebrate one of life’s milestones. But for Anderson, it would become the experience of a lifetime.
Anderson didn’t expect much during her birthday hunt at Odom Ranch near Brownwood last month. She had a crossbow at her side — an afterthought made necessary by an injury to her hand. It was her only choice, really, if she wanted to hunt with a bow. She wasn’t able to draw the compound bow, which she knew how to use. But she could cock a crossbow.
Anderson killed a raccoon with her compound bow once. But hunting with a crossbow? She didn’t know anyone who had been successful with one. Still, she practiced shooting it a couple dozen times while at the ranch that weekend and decided to give it a try.
“Saturday morning I froze my butt off,” Anderson said. As she shivered behind the blind that morning, she remembers thinking there was no way a deer would come in close enough for a shot. After three hours in the cold, she was about to give up. Not long after that, a doe wandered in close to the feeder. Anderson took her shot from about 20 yards away and hit her mark. The doe ran about 60 yards before succumbing.
Anderson was ecstatic and couldn’t believe her luck. But of course that was only the cake. The icing came the next morning.
With renewed confidence, Anderson set up in her ghost blind again Sunday before sunup. It wasn’t as cold, but she was fidgety and worried her slight movements would alert a deer.
But her worries faded away when she saw a magnificent buck stroll into sight, not 20 yards away. It was déjà vu, but only better.
“I didn’t expect to see that big monster come out,” she said. The buck came in grunting, looking for a doe. He walked into the feeder area and then out again. Finally, he turned just right and Anderson let her arrow fly.
As it turned out, it was one of the biggest bucks ever taken off the low-fence ranch. Now the buck’s going to hang on her wall — a token of a birthday hunt she will never forget