Sisters Avery and Kara Hinderliter each shot their first bucks during the Indiana youth season, making for a weekend they’ll never forget
Sisters Kara (left) and Avery Hinderliter show off the pair of great bucks they took during the 2023 Indiana youth season. Image courtesy of Eric Hinderliter
The Indiana youth deer season was coming up fast, and like a lot of busy dads, Eric Hinderliter was running a little behind on getting trail cameras up at some of his favorite stands. Eric, his wife, Krystal, and his brother-in-law, Jon Altstadt, had three kids to take hunting that weekend: Eric and Krystal’s 9-year-old twin daughters, Avery and Kara; their 5-year-old son, Ty; and Jon’s son, Ben. Though Avery killed a doe last season, all four kids were looking for their first bucks.
“The area we hunt in southern Indiana is in a lot of CRP, so it’s super thick. Lots of brush, little trees, and shrubs,” Eric said. But there’s also plenty of row crop agriculture, and several food plots, too. Eric said they’d been seeing a big 10-pointer on some other trail cameras all summer on a different side of the property, but the deer seemed to have disappeared after shedding his velvet. So Eric put out a couple cameras in new spots on Friday afternoon, before the youth season opened.
“I thought the big deer might’ve moved to a different part of the property, and sure enough, we got him on camera twice before dark on Friday,” Eric said. That camera was placed on the leg of a box blind overlooking a food plot. Eric and Avery planned to hunt there.
But it wasn’t the only good buck that showed up. Another nice deer had made a daylight appearance on a different food plot, and Krystal planned to take Kara hunting for that deer. “They’re twin girls, but totally different in personality,” Eric said. “Avery has always been into hunting. Kara has never had any interest before this year. Avery is the tomboy who likes playing in the woods, and Kara would rather go shopping. But Kara joined us on a dove hunt earlier this fall and she loved it. After she got home from school that Friday, she came to me and said she wanted to go deer hunting.”
Eric and Krystal jumped into gear to make that happen. Avery shot her doe last year with a Ravin crossbow, which Eric says she loves shooting because there’s no loud report or recoil. “She can hit cans with it at 80 yards,” he said. But he set Kara up with his custom AR-15 chambered in 350 Legend. “We went out and practiced that Saturday morning at 50 yards, and Kara was holding a 2-inch group with it,” Eric said. “It’s the first time she’s ever shot a rifle, but I felt confident in her ability.”
Avery Hinterliter shot this Indiana 10-pointer with her Ravin crossbow. Image courtesy of Eric Hinderliter
That evening, all the adults settled into the stands with the eager kids in tow. Ty and Ben were hunting with Jon, Krystal was with Kara, and Eric was with Avery. “We got into the stand about 4:30, and by 5:30, does and fawns started coming out in front of Avery and me,” Eric said. “It’s a little half-acre food plot, and it filled up with deer. At 6:30, Avery pounded me on the shoulder and said, ‘Dad, I see big antlers coming.’”
Eric looked out the blind window, and a big buck was just 18 yards away, facing the blind. The crossbow was pointing out a different window, so there was a brief scramble to get it repositioned. But once Avery got the buck in the scope, things unfolded quickly and she took the shot. “I thought the hit looked great, and figured the deer would be dead within 100 yards,” said Eric, who has followed more blood trails than most with his spit-fire tracking dog, a Catahoula named Moose.
It was a good thing Moose was along for the weekend, because finding Avery’s buck took longer than Eric anticipated. The shot had hit a little farther back than he realized, but the dog found the buck with little issue, piled up dead deep in the river bottoms.
“When Avery shot, I knew it was a nice deer but didn’t realize it was the big 10-pointer until we found him,” Eric said. “Moose’s nose saved us; that buck would’ve been very hard to find in that thick stuff without him.”
Nephew Ben shot his first deer, a doe, that evening as well, and so the celebration was in full force back at camp. Kara and Ty had close calls, too, but no shots were taken.
Kara Hinderliter bagged her first buck with one shot from a 350 Legend. Image courtesy of Eric Hinderliter
The following evening, Kara and Krystal were back after it. And once again, they had plenty of action. “Does and fawns were coming out, and then a spike. Kara decided she was going to take one of the does, but she couldn’t get a shot because I hadn’t cleared many lanes out at that stand yet. It wasn’t a stand we’d really even planned to hunt,” Eric said. “Krystal was tearing me up about that in our texts back and forth, but her not shooting that doe ended up working out for the best.”
At around 6:30, a pair of nice bucks stepped into view, the smaller of the two being a 130-class 8-pointer. Kara set her attention on the bigger one, a tall-tined 9-pointer. “The deer started out at 30 yards, and then got broadside at 20. Kara smoked him with one shot,” Eric said. “She definitely got the rush. When we got to them, Krystal was shaking and so was she.”
Eric hasn’t scored the bucks, but he estimates that Avery’s deer will top 150, and Kara’s will top 140 — trophy whitetails by any measure, and a pair of first bucks taken during a special weekend that the twin sisters will remember for years to come. “I’ve got a big taxidermy bill with Pruett’s Whitetail Artistry coming,” Eric laughed. “And I’ve got to get Ty on a deer. He wants to shoot every single one of then that comes out. We’ve had some close calls, but he hasn’t gotten one yet. But he’s been practicing, and he’s ready.”
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