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Two bagged ahead of opener

Nemeth cousins harvest big bucks in youth hunt 

BY NATASHA BARBER | STAFF WRITER

    RICE – When the Nemeth family takes to the stands opening morning of Minnesota’s deer hunting firearms season, they will rest assured they already have meat in the freezer.
     And, a few new decorations on the way for their walls.
    Cousins Ari and Shelby Nemeth bagged monster bucks Oct. 19 when they participated in Minnesota’s first statewide youth deer hunt on land northeast of Rice. The two took advantage of the early season, which was available to ages 10-17.
     The 2019 Minnesota Statewide Youth Deer Season harvested 5,700 deer Oct. 17-20. It allowed young hunters an additional opportunity to hunt without affecting their eligibility to participate in the regular firearms season. Due to this year’s intensive three-deer harvest limit in permit area 221, the girls will look to harvest additional deer alongside nearly 500,000 Minnesota hunters who will be afield Saturday, Nov. 9.
    The Nemeth cousins said the youth hunt allowed them to be selective when choosing their first deer of the season, and it certainly paid off.
    “I didn’t necessarily tell myself I had to shoot something bigger than my 10-pointer; I just wanted the deer to be big,” said Shelby, daughter of Mark and Joy Nemeth. “When I saw the deer, I didn’t realize how bit it was; I just thought it was a tall six- or eight-pointer. When we eventually found the deer I shot in the woods, I was like, ‘Whoa.’”
    ‘Whoa’ was an understated reaction. Shelby’s 15-point non-typical harvest – still in velvet – left the 16-year-old shocked.
    Ari, daughter of Mike and Missie Nemeth, had a similar reaction when she harvested her 11-point buck nine hours earlier that same day. The thick brush prevented Ari from seeing the exact size of the deer’s antlers.
    “I wanted to get a big one,” said Ari, 15. “It was the youth hunt, so I thought I could wait because I had the rest of the (regular firearms) season.”
    But, having sat the prior Thursday and Friday and having passed on a four- and six-pointer, Ari decided this buck looked bigger.
    It was around 10 a.m. when the buck crossed a recreational vehicle path 65 yards from Ari’s stand. Mike, who sat in the stand with his daughter, grunted to get the animal to stop. As the deer listened, Ari set up her shot with her Savage .243 bolt action rifle she had received from her grandparents, John and Peggy Herman, for her birthday in May.
    Ari pulled the trigger.
    “I knew she hit it; I was watching,” Mike said. “I didn’t know how big it was and I don’t think she knew either.”
    Mike and Ari found the buck in the meadow brush 40 yards away.
    With temperatures in the 60s Saturday, the two brought the deer home, caping and processing the animal immediately. They were nearly finished when Mike received the call to assist in finding Shelby’s deer.
    Shelby had been watching smaller deer from her stand for quite some time when she considered heading in. It was nearing nightfall, around 6:45 p.m., and passing traffic had scared a group of animals away from her stand.
    “I was looking across my field one last time before heading in and my heart rate shot through the roof,” Shelby said.
    The oncoming darkness limited Shelby’s ability to see the deer’s size.
    “It only had its two front legs outside of the tree line, so I pretty much saw the rack,” Shelby said. “That’s how I found it. I saw the big tall rack poking up. Then, I could make out the head and front shoulder, but not much else. I lined up my sights behind the front quarter and hoped for the best. It was double the size I thought.”
    Because sunset was upon her, Shelby enlisted four others to help her find her prized possession. Joy found the animal in the woods about 80 yards away.
    “She never goes hunting, but it was dark, so I wanted everyone I could to track it down,” Shelby said.
    Both deer were taken to the taxidermists for full mounts. Shelby’s deer was determined to have a genetic defect – the reason why the deer was still in velvet – and will be scored as a final product. The meat from the deer will be processed into ground venison, sausage and venison sticks.
    With their daughters having already bagged big ones this season, Mark and Mike will await their turn as the firearms hunt continues.
    “We still have more on camera,” Mike said.
    And will smiles and laughs the men simultaneously agreed, “They’re not quite as big.”