When the blacktail doe 13-year-old Addisyn Olson arrowed on Sept. 14 took off into the woods on her family’s land in Centralia, Washington, she was pretty bummed out. After six years of rifle hunting and finally drawing an archery elk tag, she was extra excited for this season. Addisyn had hunted for five days prior, and when she finally got a chance on a deer, she felt good about the shot. But now a search for the doe would likely take the family late into the night.
There was an hour of shooting light left, so she stayed in the ground blind with her mother Tonya and her two younger siblings. Her 9-year-old brother and 11-year-old sister watched a movie through headphones silently on the ground while Addisyn and Tonya scanned the field edge in front of them. Addisyn, after all, still had an elk tag.
After just a few minutes, three elk emerged from the woods—a spike, a cow, and a calf. While the spike was technically a legal bull per Washington’s regulations, she didn’t want to take a shot on it. So the mother-daughter duo sat patiently, and eventually some bugling emerged from the brush. An older legal bull crept out into the open.
Addisyn and Tonya couldn’t believe it. The bull was facing them, but focused on the cow instead.
“He walked out about 20 yards away and stood there head-on,” Addisyn says. “Then another bull starts bugling, and it turns into this bugle-fest. But the other bull was still in the woods.”
Two more cows emerged, putting the count at six elk plus a seventh still hidden in the trees. The first bull was still positioned head-on, leaving Addisyn without a shot.
“We’re now surrounded by this herd of elk,” Tonya says. “And I’m just like ‘okay, nobody move, nobody do anything!’”
Eventually, the second bull stepped out of the woods. The two bulls bugled at each other back and forth, and the second bull started chasing one of the cows around. Addisyn accidentally clinked her arrow against the window frame on the blind. The noise caused the second bull to stop perfectly broadside, staring at them.
“He looked right at us, and my mom says ‘Take him.’ So I let go and my arrow went directly through the heart,” Addisyn says. “He walked about 25 feet away, stood there, wobbled a little bit, then stood straight up into a vertical stance and then he dropped right there.”
Addisyn couldn’t believe what had just happened.
“I literally started crying and my mom was screaming, and my siblings were like ‘What just happened?’ They were so confused,” she says. “But then my little brother started hugging me and crying at the same time.”
Addisyn wasn’t the only one who felt overwhelmed. Tonya also couldn’t believe what she had just witnessed.
“It was a crazy hunt,” she says. “First of all, she hits this deer that runs into the woods, and we’re like alright, we’re going to have to go chase that deer later. But it was prime time, an hour before shooting hours were over, so I was like ‘Let’s just stay here, you never know what’s going to walk out.’ And then sure enough this whole thing unfolds.”
Tonya’s husband had been hunting a different blind on the property. He came by and helped Addisyn as she skinned and field dressed the bull herself.
“It was a super cool experience for the four of us to have all together, even though the littles were oblivious for a little while,” Tonya laughs.
The bull ended up being a very unique 6×7, thanks to a drop eyeguard and a few small kickers around the pedicles. Addisyn’s good fortune wasn’t over, either. As the family walked a narrow dirt road on their land searching for the doe that had jetted into the woods an hour prior, they saw something in the middle of the path.
“We turned the corner, and my little brother was like ‘Uh, there are eyes right there,’” Addisyn says. “She [the doe] was just laying there.”
“Yeah,” Tonya adds, laughing at her daughter’s seemingly unlimited luck. “That never happens.”