She’d never fired a gun, never taken a shot.
But her dad’s Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver felt comfortable in her hands when she held it in the family’s living room.
So during Missouri’s youth hunting season in late October, 9-year-old Maggie Brooks of Rogersville used that revolver and shot her first deer, an 8-point whitetail, according to the Springfield News-Leader.
“I shot the buck,” she told the newspaper, admitting that her hands were “shaking a little bit. It sounded really loud!”
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It was her first hunting trip, and her dad, Warren, was with her. He said they spent a couple of evenings practicing in the living room so Maggie could get the feel and grip of the gun, and aim it.
From their deer stand the next day near Marshfield, they were just about to give up after hours in the cold when the buck appeared, about 30, 40 yards from the stand, Brooks told the newspaper.
“We went through just like we practiced. I cocked the hammer and handed it to her. She got her aim and that deer walked and turned broadside,” he said. “He was 15 yards from the stand.”
Maggie took her shot and dropped the deer to the ground.
It can be challenging to use that revolver because hunters must get closer to the game and be more precise with their shot. But the .357 Magnum is perfectly viable for hunting deer and black bear, preaches American Hunter magazine.
“In a rifle, it’s a solid 75-100 yard gun, and in a pistol, I’ve seen some guys print groups at 50 yards so small it’d raise your eyebrows” Philip Massaro wrote for the magazine in April.
Since Maggie didn’t kill the deer, her dad stepped in and finished the job. That was a no-no, though. Maggie should have finished off the deer herself, according to Missouri hunting rules requiring young hunters to be prepared for every step of the kill, conservation officials told the News-Leader.
Many adults don’t know it’s against the rules for them to put a deer out of its misery during youth deer hunting season, Jason Dickey, a Missouri Department of Conservation regional protection supervisor, told the News-Leader.
“Even if the adult thinks they’re doing the right thing, the youth should be the one to put that deer down,” Dickey told the paper. “It would be good, before a hunt, to have that conversation: ‘What are we going to do if that happens?’”
Brooks, though, feels he made the right decision.
“After the buck dropped, I was faced with the decision to either let the deer suffer until it eventually died, try to get Maggie close enough to finish it off, or finish it myself; I chose the latter,” he said.