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A huntress is born

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Seven-year-old Taylor Fisher scrambled over a fallen log, unaware that the deer she'd killed with a little pink arrow lay just a few feet away.

"She turned to her right and saw it," said her father, Joe. "She gasped and put her hands over her nose and mouth, and her eyes went wide. I thought to myself, 'Oh, boy. Now the tears will start.'"

Instead, his daughter turned to him, nodded, grinned and proudly announced, "She dead."

With the death of a deer, a huntress was born.

Taylor, a second-grader at Andrew Heights Elementary in Tornado, had decided last winter that she wanted a bow for her birthday coming in May. Joe, himself an avid bowhunter, asked her if she wanted a bow to hunt with, or just one to shoot targets with.

"She said she wanted to hunt," Joe said. "So, in May, we got her a little compound bow and started her shooting at a bag target. Other than some aim issues early on, she turned out to be a natural."

The bow was painted in manly camouflage colors, but Taylor added some girly-girl touches. She got a release with pink edging on its wristband, had bright bubblegum-pink vanes put on her arrows, and had the shafts painted to match.

An adjustment to the bow's draw length, plus the additions of a peep sight and a kisser button, gave Taylor a more reliable anchor point at full draw. After that she consistently began nailing targets 15 to 20 yards away.

In August, more than a month before the archery season's Sept. 28 opening day, Joe set up a camouflaged ground blind on some private property not far from Charleston.

"It took a few hours of digging to make a spot level enough to accommodate the blind," he said. "It was a bit of work, but it got us close to the trail the deer would be using."

Taylor got her first opportunity to bag a whitetail on her very first day of hunting. A doe came close by the blind on opening day, but the nervous youngster's shot went low.

"It shaved a few hairs, but that was all it did," Joe said.

The miss might have been disappointing, but Joe believes the experience gave Taylor a better idea of what life in a deer stand is like. "She's 7 years old, and her attention span is only so long," he explained. "She spent a lot of time hunting, but she also spent a lot of time sleeping, eating and playing on her iPad."

Taylor's luck turned for the better on Nov. 23, two days before the state's buck firearm season was scheduled to start.

"I looked out the window of the blind and saw two deer coming in," Taylor said. "A buck we called 'The Lone Ranger' was on one side and a doe was on the other side. The Lone Ranger was chasing her in."

Taylor took a shot at the buck, but her arrow sailed low. The two deer bounded away, but moments later the doe returned and stood broadside just 15 yards from the stand.

This time Taylor's arrow flew true, striking the doe just behind its front shoulder.

"As soon as the arrow hit, I knew she'd killed that deer," Joe said.

His daughter wasn't so sure.

"I kept asking, 'Is she gonna be dead?' " Taylor recalled. "Then Daddy said, 'You smoked her,' and I got so excited."

Tracking the doe wasn't difficult. Joe had a good idea where it had gone down, but he let Taylor trace its blood trail the entire way.

"It was pretty easy to follow," Taylor said.

Eighty yards from where her arrow found its mark, the youngster discovered her fallen quarry.

"She laid her bow down, walked over and started petting on the doe and talking about how pretty it was, noticing little details like its eyelashes," Joe said. "She showed the animal a lot of respect, and that made me really proud."

It didn't take long for Taylor to post photos of her and the deer to Facebook for family and friends to see. Curiously, though, she decided not to tell her second-grade classmates about it.

"If they don't hunt, they don't care," she said.

Taylor's success at such a young age has attracted attention from a couple of nationally known hunting-related companies.

Dressed to Kill TV, a cable-network television show about women who hunt, asked Joe and Taylor to send them a video clip of her hunt for possible use in a future "DTK Princesses" episode. And Sassy Does, a women's hunting-apparel company, reportedly plans to send her a "Gettin' Sassy" T-shirt to commemorate her first deer.

Now that she's killed a deer, Taylor plans to focus on bagging a wild turkey during the upcoming spring gobbler season.

"I don't want to use a gun, though," she said. "I want to use my bow."

Whether she succeeds or not, she will have done something at a very young age that most people don't accomplish until they're in their teens.

Her father summarizes it succinctly: "Not many 7-year-old girls can say they've provided meat for their families."


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