It was the last hour of the last day of muzzleloading season.
Husband-and-wife hunters Tony and Cheryl Drozdik were out for deer in the southeastern area of Mahoning County.
Tony has just returned to the couple's truck when he heard the blast of Cheryl's one-shot Thompson Centerfire muzzleloader.
"I thought she had just unloaded her gun," he said. "That's how you unload a muzzleloader."
However, Cheryl, close to being held deerless for a second straight year, had finally bagged herself a whitetail. A nice doe, or so she thought.
Went right down
When Tony got back to Cheryl, she excitedly told him she had gotten a deer. "It went right down," she said to her husband, and the couple walked right up to the "doe" to check it out.
The two red spots on the top of the deer's head were the first sign that it wasn't a doe.
Seems Cheryl's first-ever harvested deer was, in fact, a buck, and one that had just recently dropped its rack. "Red's told us that a lot of deer lost their racks early this year," Tony said. Red's Bait in North Lima was where the couple took the deer to be checked.
While she was a bit disappointed that the deer wasn't a nice trophy, Cheryl wasn't at all unhappy that she had finally harvested a deer.
"I just couldn't wait to get one," said the mother of four.
"She had the fever," her husband added.
The deer turned out to be about 145 pounds, clearly outweighing Cheryl's smaller stature.
Yearning to hunt
Cheryl, a Mineral Ridge native and resident, had been yearning to go deer hunting ever since she could remember. Her plans had been thwarted by being part of a nonhunting family.
Her husband, on the other hand, was part of a long-running hunting family. His dad and grandfather were stalwart hunters, and the gun Cheryl bagged her deer with came from Tony's father.
Still, family and other concerns continued to prevent Cheryl's participation. "I used to get so jealous when Tony went and I couldn't go," she said.
That all changed a few years ago when she finally persuaded Tony to let her go along with him.
Tony, now visibly proud of his wife's harvest, said that he agreed to let her come along then only thinking she'd eventually get bored and hate it.
Enjoyed the outdoors
Not a chance, she said. Even though she had not yet bagged a deer until this past season, Cheryl enjoyed just being out in the woods.
"Going hunting is very relaxing, especially since our family is very busy," she said. That family consists of four children: Ashley, 18; Amber, 14; Alexis, 7; and Anthony, 3. There's also a bird and two dogs.
She holds no grudge that it took a few years to get to accompany Tony hunting. "I'm lucky I married a man who likes to hunt," Cheryl said.
After having gone hunting for nearly two years, Cheryl was wondering when she would finally get a deer. When it did come, it was deer aplenty.
"There were two deer there," she said. Cheryl added that she simply took aim and shot one of them, managing to bag the animal with the very first muzzleloading shot she had ever taken at a deer.
Had she not, the deer undoubtedly would have skedaddled before she could have reloaded the one-shot weapon.
Meanwhile, the deer is being processed at Young's in Mineral Ridge.
With her success this year, Cheryl can't wait for the next deer season.
She has plans to try her hand at bowhunting as well as heading out again during the gun and muzzleloading seasons.
"I plan on getting two next year," she said. "And maybe one of them with a nice rack, and then maybe on to other things."
While her kids think it's great that their mom bagged a deer, Cheryl said her friends aren't that keen on it.
"All of my girlfriends cringed that I shot 'Bambi'," she said. "But all of my husband's friends thought it was cool."