New hunter shoots dream buck

I skim the hunting Facebook groups for photos of amazing deer during hunting season. My favorite are those of successful female hunters.  I love the photos of incredible deer that are what (almost) every hunter’s dreams of taking.  This past season, I found a female hunter with an incredible buck and a fantastic name!

Erin McGraw grew up fishing and did not start deer hunting until just a few years ago.  She shot her first deer, a spikehorn in 2019 but took a year off  due to the birth of a baby. In 2021, Erin and her husband hunted but were never able to be in the right place at the right time. “It was a great year to practice still hunting,” Erin exclaimed, “It was a really cool experience to get more familiar with the woods around our house.”

Leading up to the 2023 season, Erin and her husband got the first look at an impressive buck while looking at trail camera pictures. “I didn’t know what a drop-tine was. I just knew that it was a big buck,” Erin said. They saw him a few times on their cameras but never often enough to pattern him.

On one of their first days hunting, Erin, her husband and father-in-law headed into the woods together. It was a perfect hunting day and they separated to cover more ground.  “I heard a noise,” Erin said, “and two does ran at me. They were so close that I actually jumped out of their way and threw my arms up.”  Her heart was racing but she regained her composure.  It was mid-morning and the guys wanted to head in for a little bit but Erin was determined to stay in the woods.

Her husband decided to following her through the woods. Erin didn’t get too far before she saw movement. “My eye was drawn to movement so I stopped and lifted the gun and got him in the scope.” There were two trees between Erin and the buck. “I got the gun up, saw his head and then the fact that he had antlers but I didn’t know which deer it was.  I just knew it was a buck. The deer stepped just right so I could take a perfect shoulder shot and he piled right up.”

Double drop tine Maine buck

She heard her husband cheer from behind her. “I didn’t know it was that buck.  But, I absolutely got buck fever and started shaking.” They ranged the shot to be about 50 yards.

As Erin and her husband approached the deer, they realized that it was the buck that they first saw in August. Finally, they could see just how impressive he was and get their hands on those double drop-tines!

The buck dressed at 154lbs with an impressive 12 points, including the two drop tines.  “I wasn’t sure about getting him mounted but I had a lot of taxidermists reach out to me,” Erin said, “so we decided to go ahead and do it. He is an once-in-a-lifetime buck.”

Now that Erin has tagged a buck that so many of us could only dream about tagging, her next goal is to join Maine’s Big Buck Club and tag a buck dressing at over 200 pounds.  I can’t wait until I get another message from her saying that she has done just that!


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Meet The Author

Erin Merrill, author of And a Strong Cup of Coffee, is president of Women of the Maine Outdoors, a senior writer for Drury Outdoors, a contributor to the Northwoods Sporting Journal and passionate all things Maine, Hunting, and the Outdoors.