A Royal Deer Hunter

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Do You Have a Story to Tell?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Every day here at Realtree, we get e-mails from hunters who want to provide feedback or share their hunting experiences with us. We love to received these e-mails and look forward to responding to them. Sometimes we receive very unique e-mails that really catch our attention. Recently, a special gal from Texas dropped us a couple of e-mails and some pictures that we'd like to share with you. 

While other young girls like to dress up in pretty dresses and play with dolls, 10-year-old Steffany Royal of Belton, Texas, enjoys nothing more than putting on her Realtree Camouflage and heading to the woods with her dad. Steffany, an A-honor-roll student, got hooked on the sport of deer hunting at age five during the first hunting trip she took with her father. With a passion for hunting seldom possessed in young girls, Steffany contacted Realtree in an effort to share her love for the sport and her admiration for the Realtree Team.

(Stephanie Royal photo)My name is Steffany Austin Royal, age 10. I'm getting ready for my fourth hunting season. I've lived and hunted in both Texas and Missouri where my family owns good hunting land. My dad and I hunt deer, hogs and turkeys, but my true love is hunting monster bucks! My goal is to someday become the first Realtree Girl! Today is an exceptionally special day for me because today I received a BIG surprise! For you see, I'd been saving my money for a long time to buy my very own gun -- a Thompson/Center Fire .243. I've been eyeing that gun at Webers' Guns and Sporting Goods for months, and today it finally became mine. Wow! My dad told me we were just going into the store to take a look. When we went in, and I asked to see the gun, the man behind the counter said, "Well young lady, I believe we just sold that gun today, but the owner hasn't picked it up yet." Then, he reached behind the counter and handed me the gun with a big smile on his face -- but not as big as mine!

At age 5, I went on my very first hunting trip with my dad Steven Royal and my grandpa, Hud Royal. While I didn't get to shoot, I was excited just to get to go. We left home in the dark of night, and I stuck close to my dad's side. We did some rattling with no luck. While scouting, we walked up on a deer, and my dad shot it (nothing special, just good meat for the freezer). My dad continued to take me with him on many of his hunting trips after that, but he didn't let me shoot until I turned 7. I began practicing on targets with a Ruger #1 22.250, and when deer season rolled around, I was ready to rumble. I shot my first buck, a 9-point, during a 2000 youth hunt near Cisco, Texas, on my great grandmother's old home place. I can't tell you how excited I was to take my first deer!

The next year, I experienced even more luck. My Dad and I returned to Cisco for my second youth hunt. Along came a nice, big-bodied 11-point buck about 100 yards from me. I dropped him dead in his tracks! Now, I get to see him every day hanging on a wall in our house. Later that season, I took two does near Haskell, Texas. And just when I thought it couldn't get any better than that, I experienced an unbelievable hunt in 2002.

I'll tell you the story.

My dad and I woke up at 4 a.m., jumped into our camo clothes, hopped into the white pickup truck and headed to Gravois Mills (my aunt's ranch - about 7500 acres right smack in the middle of Missouri). I've always hunted in Texas, but this year we spent about 6 months in Missouri. Fortunately for me, we were there for deer season. During the summer months, my dad had cleared off a spot on an old fescue field and planted a food plot of wheat. He also built me a 4x8-foot wood ground blind about 90 yards from the food plot.

We parked the truck about 600 yards from the ground blind. I stepped out of the warm, heated truck to a cold, foggy, 28-degrees morning. We slipped on our heavy-duty, extra-thick winter coats to complete our five layers of clothing. We started the walk toward my hunting spot. After about 20 minutes, we opened the blind's door that had been silenced by the WD40 that my dad had put on it. We both sat down in our office chairs and glued our eyes on the food plot in front of us. The fog was so thick that we couldn't even see our hands in front of our faces. It was now 5 a.m., and we were ready for the shot. As 6 a.m. and then 7 a.m. rolled around, we still hadn't seen a living thing. By 7:30 a.m., we had gotten a little perturbed and decided to leave the blind for some breakfast.

When we finally got far enough away from the stand to whisper, I asked my dad if we could sneak over to his bow stand for a look. We arrived at his stand about 8 a.m. We saw no deer, but we did see fresh deer sign. As we snooped around the food plot looking for sign, my Dad turned his head and looked up the hill. "Oh my gosh!" he exclaimed. There stood Mr. 21-inch spread -- almost the record for the largest 6-point shot in Missouri.

My Dad told me, "Quick get down!" I hadn't seen the buck yet because I had become fixated on finding deer tracks. I hit the ground. Then, I spotted the buck following a doe down the hill. Suddenly, the doe snorted and ran. The buck, not knowing what was going on, trotted further down the hill away from us. He stopped by a large dead tree. The brush came up to his neck, which created an unfavorable shot. I spotted an opening about 5 yards in front of him. As he slowly walked forward into the clearing, I held my breath, aimed my gun, and slowly squeezed the trigger. He jumped and ran up the hill about 30 yards. He bit the dust! I had made a great shot with the 22.250 using a 55-grain bullet! He field dressed at 180 pounds, and he grossed 128 and some change and netted 116 and some change. His inside spread measured 20.5 inches.

My dad checked his watch the second I shot. The watch's hands pointed to 8:10 a.m. The odd thing is that I've shot every one of my bucks on the first day of the hunt at just about 8 a.m. My dad tells me every year, "Now honey, you need to understand that it's not going to be like last year. You may sit in the deer stand for hours and not see a thing." But my luck peeks every year. Of course, I have a great guide -- my dad.