La Crosse’s Julia Sill will remember the 2020 Wisconsin gun deer season for a long, long time.
Three days before the Saturday, Nov. 21 opener, Julia and her father, Shawn, attended a Whitetails Unlimited banquet in Stoddard. Julia won a .243 caliber rifle. The next day, the 13-year-old obtained her second degree black belt. She capped it off with her first buck, a 190-pound field-dressed nine-pointer with an 18-inch spread on opening day.
Julia, an eighth grader at St. Matthew’s Lutheran School in Stoddard, had already harvested two does in her brief hunting career, but her first buck was even more exciting.
“Oh, yeah, my heart was pounding and I was shaking a little bit,” said Julia, who garnered the nickname “Snake Eyes”, for her keen eyesight.
“I think the nickname is funny, just weird to me,” she said laughing.
While Julia’s first buck kill was exciting for her, it was equally exciting for her dad.
“We were actually sitting on point rock where we see everything, the whole valley,” Shawn said. “We were facing the deer trail when I heard Julia whisper, ‘Dad, buck, buck.’”
It was indeed a large buck. A couple minutes later, Shawn and Julia watched it inch closer.
“It was eyeing us up and looking in our direction,” Shawn said. “It stopped dead in its tracks 40 yards away.”
Julia fired one shot from her .243 Savage rifle. The buck jogged off.
Shawn said they did a Whoo-Hooo cheer, then waited about 15-20 minutes. The father-daughter duo walked to where area Julia shot the buck, but couldn’t find any blood. They searched 20 minutes, knowing Julia hit it perfectly. The search continued until they saw the buck within about 100 yards.
“It looked like a cow laying in a field, but in a wooded area when I put the binoculars on it,” Shawn said.
When they approached within about 25 yards, the buck stood up before Julia put another shot into it.
“It went about 10-15 yards and that was it,” Shawn said. “Then there was more excitement. We knew we had it.”
Julia said she began hunting when she was 10, but started tracking deer when she was 6.
“When I was 10, I didn’t get a deer, but this is the third year in a row I got one,” said Julia, also a nature lover.
“It’s just fun to be outside and be with wildlife,” said Julia, who also hunts turkeys, pheasants, squirrels, and, hopefully, coyotes in the future.
“We have a lot of coyotes on my uncle’s farm where we hunt,” she said.
Shawn shot a trophy 14-point buck with his crossbow four years ago, but says it was nothing like sitting with his daughter when she shot her buck.
“It was a thrill watching Julia get her deer. I owe an awful lot to my brother for teaching her, too,” Shawn said.
Julia has also learned a lot from her dad and uncle.
“I’ve learned how to be quiet for sure, “ she said. “We get out deer hunting by 5:30 in the morning, come in about 10:30 or 11:30, and then head back out by 3 and hunt until closing.”
Who was more excited after Julia shot her buck?
“For sure, my dad was pretty excited, too,” she said, laughing.