Mike Schoff

It wasn’t the biggest buck, but it was Mike Schoff’s first after 51 years of hunting. Schoff bagged his buck Sept. 29 with a crossbow.

Contributed photo

Hunting is a sport full of passionate people who sometimes wait years for their first successful hunt, but it usually doesn’t take decades.

For Mike Schoff it took 51 years and a trip to Jackson County in late September for him to bag his first buck and he said it was quite the rush.

“I could feel my heart really pounding,” Schoff said. “When I first saw the deer it was probably 10 seconds or so, but it felt like a minute.”

Schoff is a resident of Anoka, Minn., but his son, Michael Shepard, is a teacher in Black River Falls and owns property in Jackson County.

Shepard said his dad had thought about giving up sometimes, but they convinced him to keep trying with a crossbow.

At the end of September, Schoff headed out on his son’s property to do some hunting with crossbow in hand on what felt like a typical day.

He said he had been in his tree stand for almost two hours when he saw a buck coming into his field of view.

The seconds passed by slowly for Schoff as he lined up his shot, “I knew I got a good hit.”

Schoff said he could hear the thrashing of the buck in the distance as he headed back to his son’s house to get some help finding it.

“I think he was more excited than I was when I told him,” Schoff said.

Knowing he finally had bagged a buck, it was a whirlwind of emotions for the veteran hunter even if it wasn’t a prize buck.

Shepard insisted that they get the buck mounted. His father suggested putting a plaque under it that read, “It took 51 years to get this buck, let’s hope the other one doesn’t take as long.”

“He was kind of reluctant to get it mounted, but I told him I am taking it to a taxidermist,” Shepard said. “We’ll all pitch in for it to get it done for him.”

Shepard had been hunting with his dad before, and always felt bad that his dad had never shot a buck. Shepard said there was no way they were not commemorating this one.

“Over the past few years I had thought about taking up more golfing instead of hunting,” Schoff said.

For awhile Shepard said it felt like his dad was cursed, but when it finally went right everything about it was perfect.

It was certainly a hunt to remember for the both of them, and now that the curse is lifted they hope future hunts might go better.

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Stephen Knoll is a reporter for Jackson County Chronicle. Contact him at 715-284-0085.

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