Friday, December 7th, 2012
By Margie Wuebker
Girls continue hunting tradition
  Becoming a hunter isn't a long shot for many - it's a family tradition.
Anita Rutschilling of Yorkshire learned about the sport when she and her husband Steve were dating in the 1990s. She especially likes the challenge of using a bow.
Hunting has become a pastime they enjoy along with daughters Elizabeth, 18, and Amber, 15, who are adept with bows and muzzleloaders.
Elizabeth Rutschilling, a student at Rhodes State College in Lima, was introduced to hunting long before she saw the light of day.
"I was six months pregnant and Steve wouldn't let me go up in the tree stand," Anita recalled with a smile. "He stationed me at the edge of a cornfield. I heard some noise and thought he was coming back. It turned out to be a 6-point buck and I got him."
Some hunters wait for a big buck to appear in the crosshairs of their guns or bows, but Anita is not one of them. Her motto "If it's brown, it's down" applies to does and bucks.
The Rutschillings have shared important hunting philosophy with their daughters over the years.
"There are times when you go out and see nothing," Steve said. "Be patient because your time will come. You're never going to get a deer just sitting on the couch."
Amber, a cheerleader and student at Marion Local High School, has introduced her boyfriend Nick Schmitz to the sport and he bagged his first deer this year - a button buck. Elizabeth's boyfriend Matt Bertke is not a hunter but he has sat in a deer stand with her.
"I will get him hunting," she said. "Believe me, it's only a matter of time."
With eight deer to their credit this season, the family has an ample supply of venison in the form of steaks, hamburger, summer sausage and jerky. They also had some canned for quick meals.
Anita downed her yearling doe on a Thursday. Amber followed suit with a 6-point buck on a Friday and Elizabeth ended the week with a 7-point buck on Saturday. Steve has filled his four tags and Anita, with another doe to her credit, is focusing on a buck - a big buck - for the meat, the impressive rack and bragging rights.
Bailey Baker, the daughter of Jeb and Shelley Baker of Coldwater, bagged her first deer - an impressive 8-point buck - this season after three years of attempts at family-owned property near Fort Recovery. Mention the experience and the sixth-grader flashes a wide grin.
"I saw a doe, a yearling and two bucks," she said. "I could only get a shot at one of them and it happened to be a buck. I was shaking a lot before and after I shot."
Her dad initially thought the shot had missed since they found no telltale blood. Baylie knew the animal had been hit and set out to track it. She found it over a ridge.
Shelley Baker said her daughter helped her father skin and debone the buck without complaint. Baylie kept the rack as a souvenir, and the hide will be tanned for use as a blanket.
"She gets right up when it's time to go hunting," the proud mother said. "However, the same does not hold true on school mornings."
Mercer County Wildlife Officer Ryan Garrison said the number of area hunters remains about the same as in past years but the number of deer taken increased. The change is likely due to hunters being allowed to harvest more deer due to the recent switch from Division A to Division B. The change allows hunters to claim four deer instead of two throughout the season with proper tag purchases.
"On a whole, most hunters follow laws pretty well," Garrison said. "You always have a few who don't, like speeders on the highway."
Kathy Garza-Behr, wildlife communications specialist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, said the state has 500,000 hunters, and nearly 425,000 were out and about on Nov. 26 - the first day of gun season.
"The harvest is spread out from mid-September to February, giving hunters an opportunity to bag their limit," she said. "Hunters tend to go out heavy on opening day and on the weekends."
In addition to entertainment value, hunting provides a good source of red meat low in cholesterol.
"Some people claim they don't like venison but many have never tasted it," Garza-Behr said. "Our deer in Ohio enjoy a high quality diet of corn and grain just like beef cattle."
The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in the state. Ohio ranks eighth nationally in annual hunting-related sales and 10th in number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries.
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