Meadville Tribune

Outdoors

March 7, 2009

Teen hunter was truly a dear to another in need

By PAUL A. SMITH

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel



RHINELANDER, Wis. (AP) — She stood alone in the pine barrens, a blaze orange vision of despair.

He was a young man on a scouting mission, open to possibility but never expecting this.

She cradled her head in one hand, a cell phone in the other. She was sobbing.

"Oh, no," thought Nick Owens, fearing the worst. He eased his pickup truck to a stop along the remote road in the Burnett County Forest. "Can I help you?"

It was noon on the fourth day of the 2008 Wisconsin gun deer season, a time of relatively light hunting pressure. Most hunters had either filled their tags, headed back to work or simply stopped hunting.

Not Nick and not her. Nick, an 18-year-old from Rhinelander, had some bad luck at his normal spot and was searching the public ground west of Minong for an alternative.

She was similarly dedicated to the hunt, sitting for the fourth day in severe cold on a spot cherished by her grandfather and father before.

As Nick approached, she wiped her face. She was in her early 20s, he guessed, her petite frame swallowed by an insulated orange suit. She carried a well-worn 30-30 lever-action rifle.

Hunting can elicit a wide range of emotions. Many hunters feel a complex mix of remorse, relief and satisfaction when they make a kill. Nick had taken deer with gun and bow in previous seasons and he understood.

But what he saw before him was something different.

"I shot a deer," she said. "And my boyfriend doesn't believe me."

Nick exhaled as the story poured out.

"He's at the tavern," she said, gesturing to the cell phone. "He won't come help me."

Anger. Hurt. Betrayal. Helplessness. A stew of emotions boiled forth. She shook her head, biting off a curse.

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