Youth hunt brings out surprises
By John Faucher
Some stories are destined to last a lifetime.
Just ask 11-year old Raquel Welch and her dad Bruce Welch of New London. On Saturday, Oct. 7 the two of them set out for a late afternoon whitetail deer hunt to their family’s home farm in central Outagamie County.
The property is a landscape of crop lands with one small woodlot of about 20 acres. Having grown up there, Bruce Welch would tell you firsthand there’s not always a lot of time for scouting deer on a working farm.
He and Raquel went out afterschool two nights the week before and glassed over the fields with binoculars. They saw a few deer but nothing like the lifetime trophy she harvested on the evening opener of the Wisconsin Youth Gun Deer Hunt.
The statewide youth hunt is open to people ages 10 to 15. Participants must obtain a license and be accompanied by a parent or adult mentor.
Last year Raquel harvested a nice doe for her first deer.
This year, she and her dad didn’t really know what to expect. Bruce worked third shift the night before, so they didn’t hunt opening morning. In the afternoon, they rushed for their gear and made for the fields.
“We kind of just picked a spot in the brush and got set up,” said Raquel. “A whole bunch of stuff wasn’t working. First, I have a bipod on my gun and it wasn’t working. So my dad took this hedge clipper and cut up two trees, then cut up his sweater to make a tripod.”
“At first I thought he was mad because not much stuff was working.”
Bruce began to chuckle as she told their story.
After all it was a nice sweatshirt. He reached into the truck bed for the makeshift tripod he made from sticks. It was tied at the apex with his torn up sleeve.
“Yeah, we couldn’t get a steady rest,” said Bruce with a smile. “It worked.”
Soon after finding the tripod solution the two settled into the grass and waited.
Raquel realized she forgot her earmuffs and was nervous about shooting the gun without them. Then, a small eight-point buck emerged on the field edge.
“The wind spooked it and it ran away. Dad said, ‘Oh well, everything happens for a reason,’” Raquel explained.
“Fifteen minutes later two bucks walked out and dad’s like, ‘I’m going to tell you, don’t look at the rack.’”
Instantly she said she was nervous.
“I got nervous because I knew it was a big buck. Dad said ‘shoot the one on the left.’”
He also told her to imagine that little blue square on the target as she took steady aim from the improvised tripod.
The firing pin clicked, and nothing fired from the 6.5 Creedmoor rifle.
“I reached over to the bolt and chambered a new round,” said Bruce.
Raquel again took careful aim through the scope.
“When I took hunter’s safety the teacher told us to focus on one hair, so I kind of did that when I shot, and it dropped,” said Raquel.
The deer never moved from that spot.
“We hugged for like five minutes. Dad took a video of my reaction,” said the sixth-grader as her eyes glazed with happiness recalling that moment.
Bruce brought up the video on his cell phone.
The video is jumpy but you can make out the evening sunset over the field and hear Raquel’s excitement as she tries to catch her breath. “What just happened?” You can hear Bruce ask in the video. “What is that out there?” he asks. “I got a buck,” replies Raquel as she rolls out tears of joy. And then more hugs.
Later the two paced off approximately 125 to 150 yards where the deer laid with one perfect shot.
Its heavy 10-point rack sprawled out a 24 3/4 inch inside spread.
The following morning, on their way to the meat processing plant, people went out of their way to stop and congratulate Raquel on her trophy.
Comments like, “You can’t hardly outdo yourself on something like that” were common as people pulled up to look at the buck and offer their congratulations.
The modest 11-year old girl just smiles and says, “Thank you.”
Perhaps Raquel Welch doesn’t even realize what caliber of a trophy she’s got. The rack has not yet been scored. All she knows for now is the reaction of others.
She admits she will forever return to that memory with her dad, and treasures it.
That’s her trophy for a lifetime.
And her dad’s, too.