Heather Nicole was six hours into an all-day sit when she briefly considered packing it up. Hunting from a homemade ground blind on her uncle’s 9-acre property in southeastern Ohio, she looked out over a landscape covered in snow. Temperatures were well below freezing, the wind was howling, and her feet were especially cold. But Nicole was determined to take a big, cagey buck that had been on her mind all season. She decided she’d stay there until dark if she had to.
“I didn’t have a heater, and I forgot batteries for my electric socks,” Nicole tells Outdoor Life. “I was so very cold, but I wasn’t leaving the blind. I wasn’t going to give up on this buck.”
The buck, which she’d nicknamed “Side Kick” for the non-typical sticker coming off its left main beam, had been a difficult one to pattern, Nicole says. Starting in September, she’d get trail camera photos of the deer for several days in a row. Then she’d hunt the area for a few days and never see it once.
“This deer was just impossible to figure out,” she says. “There was no pattern to when he’d come by the blind, which was near a food plot and a feeder.”
Regardless, Nicole went back to hunt the same blind with a crossbow the morning of Jan. 13. She saw six other deer over the course of the day, and around 5 p.m., her target buck finally showed.
“There were four deer feeding near the blind, including a doe with a couple button bucks, and he marched into that spot like the place was all his.”
Nicole opened the blind window slowly and quietly to avoid spooking the other deer feeding 40 yards away. But as she readied her crossbow, she saw the scope had fogged up. She cleaned the lens, but then her fingers were so cold that she had a hard time getting the safety off.
With all this commotion, Nicole was sure the deer would spook. They never did.
Finally, after flicking the safety off, Nicole settled her crossbow sight just behind the buck’s shoulder. She pulled the trigger, sending a broadhead into Side Kick’s chest. The buck ran just 50 yards before it fell. Nicole then reached out to her boyfriend, who showed up soon enough with a deer cart and two more sets of hands.
By the time they got the buck back home, they estimated its live weight at well over 200 pounds. They also inspected its teeth and guessed its age at around 4 or 5 years old. Its 11-point rack had a green score of 142 inches.
It wasn’t until days later that Nicole realized how cold she’d really gotten that day. She says she’s pretty sure she had a “touch of frostbite” as her left foot had changed color slightly and was in pain. This led to a quick trip to the hospital, where they gave her antibiotics and a salve to treat the early effects of superficial frostbite.
“It was a long, tough hunt getting that buck,” Nicole says, “But being cold was so worth it.”