Roger Hansen and his daughter, Brooke, of Waupaca arrowed two wall-hanger white-tailed bucks a half-hour apart on opening day of Wisconsin’s archery season Sept. 14 while sharing an elevated box blind on the family’s 150-acre property north of town.
Hansen, 50, and Brooke, 17, didn’t set out that evening with such grand plans. They were just squeezing a Saturday hunt into Brooke’s tight schedule, which includes a heavy high-school class load, homework, cross-country practice, cross-country meets, college visits and applications, and waitressing Sunday breakfasts at Little Fat Gretchen’s diner on Main Street.
They figured if their hunt went well, they might see one of the bucks photographed by their trail-cameras. And if they were lucky, a buck would venture near their 6-by-6-foot box stand at the end of an alfalfa field, and offer Brooke a shot.
The Hansens have shared many hunts and checked many trap lines together since Brooke started tagging along at age 9 to watch, listen and learn. She started hunting when 11, and had since shot two bucks and 10 antlerless deer. Still, she hadn’t yet arrowed an antlered buck with her Excalibur Micro crossbow, so she was the designated shooter when they reached their stand on opening day.
Besides, Hansen would rather see Brooke succeed than shoot a deer himself. He began hunting at age 12, and has also hunted Iowa, Alaska, Colorado, Montana and New Mexico, and brought home elk, moose, whitetails and mule deer. He also feels more urgency to hunt with Brooke this fall, knowing she might attend college far from home next year, and get few chances to hunt.
The Hansens settled into their stand around 4 p.m. on Sept. 14, and soon saw deer moving into the field to eat alfalfa and radishes. About 80 minutes later a big 8-point buck stepped from the woods to feed on fallen acorns along the field’s edge. The buck gradually fed into range of Brooke’s crossbow, and offered a clear, stationary shot at 21 yards.
Brooke’s arrow flew true, striking the buck behind the shoulder. They watched it fall seconds later after it fled 70 yards. After a quiet but excited celebration, they discussed whether to stay in the blind and try for an antlerless deer. Meanwhile, Brooke texted her mother, Lisa, to announce her success, and Hansen texted family friend Randy Burns to ask if he’d drive over with Hansen’s plastic Otter sled to help drag out Brooke’s buck.
They decided to wait inside the blind for Burns’ arrival, hoping that deer might return to the field and resume feeding. “We really weren’t expecting to see more deer, but then a big buck come out south of us,” Hansen said. “When it spotted Brooke’s buck lying there, it ran to the east and disappeared.”
Brooke texted Burns and told him to wait a bit, just in case the buck decided to return. Fifteen minutes went by. “Just when I thought he wasn’t going to come out, a buck came out on Brooke’s side,” Hansen said. “She said it was big, and leaned back so I could see it.”
As the buck approached, Hansen pulled his Mathews Halon compound bow to full draw and leaned forward to wait for a good shot. He released his arrow when the buck stood still at 35 yards. It fled in the opposite direction of Brooke’s buck, and piled up 70 yards away.
More celebrations and text messages followed.
When the Hansens got down from their stand and approached Roger’s buck, he recognized its antlers. He had found its previous antlers a few feet apart during this spring’s turkey season. The cast antlers carried five points on one side and six points on the other, and weren’t as big as the set the buck carried this year.
They also recognized both bucks from photos taken by their trail cameras in previous weeks, but they hadn’t seen Roger’s buck in real life.
Hansen’s buck weighed 202 pounds field dressed, and its 12-point rack had a 16-inch spread that rough-scored 155 inches. Brooke’s buck was likely a big 2.5-year-old buck that field dressed 155 pounds, and its 8-point rack had a 17-inch spread.
Hansen remains amazed by the unique feat.
“Something like that only happens once in a lifetime,” he said. “You can’t plan it, especially with a bow and arrow. If Randy hadn’t been available to bring us the sled, we probably would have climbed down and started working on Brooke’s buck. We never would have seen my buck.”