Hitting a large buck from 200-yards away is an amazing shot for any hunter, even more so for young one.
After bringing down a large and near-record sized deer, 10-year-old Ella Perkins of Arkansas City was featured in a recent issue of Outdoor Life, a national magazine about camping, fishing, hunting and survival, in a story written by local author Drew Palmer.
Ella said she didn’t know that she was going to be in that publication until it actually came out.
“It was exciting,” she said.
She also was featured in an interview on the KFDI radio station in Wichita.
The Perkins family has a long history of hunting and fishing. After seeing the huge buck on a trail webcam in July, Ella’s father Cody said he was astounded by its size.
“My mouth dropped seeing this thing,” he said.
Cody told his daughter Ella that she could have the first shot at it. When the Kansas youth hunting season opened on Sept. 4, Ella and her father began to scout out the deer’s habits so they could track it down. That process took more than 40 days.
The buck showed up regularly on the webcam but then suddenly disappeared, reappearing just a few days before the start of hunting season.
When the season opened, Ella and her father were ready to go. Ella was not a stranger to hunting, having shot her first doe last year. But this year, she was interested only in one specific animal.
Ella said she and her dad picked up their hunting gear and made their way to a soybean field. They were hiding behind two hay bales when a doe and her two fawns saw them and moved in for a closer look.
“She saw us and figured out what we were, then snorted and we had to relocate,” she said. “We walked through the beans and over the terrace and stayed there at the bottom.”
Cody said after waiting for more than 30 minutes, he had almost decided to call it an evening. He said the doe had made so much noise that he thought any chance of finding the buck was gone.
But on the way back, he spotted it near the hay bales.
“We got closer and closer, and then dropped our bags and took the things that we needed, our rifles, our binoculars and our bipod,” Ella said.
Cody told her that there could be three possible outcomes at this point. He said she could take the shot, miss, and have the deer run off, she could successfully hit it, or in the worst-case scenario, just wound it, have it run off, and not be able to find it.
Ella said her dad asked her if she wanted to move in closer, or risk a shot from there.
“I wanted to take the risk,” she said.
She took the shot, but the deer ran away. Her dad found areas of blood on the ground, so he knew the buck had been hit. Now they just had to find it. Other family members were called in to help search. Cody eventually found it.
“She’s outdone me,” he said. I’ve never shot a deer from that far.”
“I’ve got big shoes to fill,” he added with a laugh.
Ella said that her favorite part of hunting is seeing the animals up close, and then eating them. She loves to eat deer jerky.
When she shot her first doe last year, her dad asked her how she wanted to have the meat processed. He said she wanted the entire doe made into jerky. He said they also made 20 lbs. of summer sausage.
“We keep all of the meat,” he said. “She’s a big jerky eater just like me, and we like to make our own jerky.”
“Hopefully I can bring some to show and tell,” she said.
Her dad laughed and said he was surprised that she would be willing to share any of it.
While Ella may be deadly with a rifle, her personality is shy and quiet. She and hasn’t let the media attention go to her head. Her classmates aren’t aware of the magazine article, or her recent radio interview, though one of her teachers did ask for her autograph.
Cody said eventually he plans to show Ella how to use a shotgun for bird hunting.
“That will be something we will start on before long,” he said. “We’ll be going turkey hunting soon.