Just before receiving a kidney transplant, a diehard hunter takes down the largest buck of her life.
On March 15, 2016, 35-year-old Michelle Schweizer of West Bend, Wisconsin, found out her one remaining kidney was failing. She’d had the other one removed earlier in life and things were not looking good. But her doctors had recently found a donor thanks to a painstaking boots-to-ground campaign she and several friends and family put on to find her a donor.
In fact, she had so many people offer to be tested to see if they were a match, staff from Froedtert Hospital actually called her to see what the group had done to receive such a response. Surgery was set for Dec. 14, so she had time to get in a couple of hunts before going in.
On opening day of the Wisconsin firearms season, she approached her stand in a weakened state. Her kidney was functioning at only about 17 percent.
“My husband, Kevin, set up a nice blind for me with a 20-pound tank of propane so I could stay warm because we like to sit from dark to dark,” she said. “He even put in a lounger-style chair so I could rest from time to time. I just couldn’t hunt my normal treestands because it would have been too tough to climb up into them.”
Michelle grew up in Milwaukee and even though her father hunted, she had never participated. It wasn’t until her husband started lobbying for her to go that she first set foot in a treestand or turkey blind.
“We were in an archery league together for many years,” Kevin said. “She turkey hunts, we fish together and spend a lot of time outdoors.”
It’s not surprising Kevin got his bride involved in the outdoors. He’s been a mentor hunter for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for many years. He also admits that getting Michelle to love hunting meant he could hunt more, too. The two hunt a family farm and spend a lot of time managing the land.
ENTER, TRIPLE CROWN
The couple has a few trail cameras set up on the land in order to help them see what kind of inventory they have. They check them often, but on Aug. 11, Michelle’s birthday, a particularly nice buck was caught on camera.
“It’s pretty amazing that the first picture we got of him was on my birthday,” she said. “But this year in general has been pretty unique.” They named the buck Triple Crown.
Opening day around the state was not expected to be a very good one. Sure, the rut was still on, but steady 20 mph winds with gusts up to 40 mph don’t make for good deer movement. Most of the time, they find a nice spot and bed down until the weather breaks. Luckily, the rut had the deer moving on their farm. Sometimes, when you have gusty winds and a hot doe in the area, bucks get on the move.
“It was late in the afternoon and I had a doe come into the food plot,” Michelle said. “I wanted to practice getting my gun steady so I moved it into position. I looked away for a second and then looked through my scope again. The doe was gone and instead, Triple Crown was standing right where the doe had been! My gun was already in position with the scope dialed in on him.”
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At the shot, the buck ran out of sight. Now shaking, heart pounding, Michelle called Kevin and told him she had shot a buck. Everything had happened so fast. She knew she had shot a nice buck, but she didn’t know she had shot THE buck.
Kevin arrived and the two went to the last spot Michelle had spotted the buck. Kevin was a few yards ahead of Michelle and didn’t get far before motioning back to her … pointing and confirming the buck was down.
“You got him!” he said. “He’s huge! You shot Triple Crown!”
The two celebrated with other hunters on the property, capping off an amazing year for them both. Kevin’s apprentice hunter had now shot a buck larger than her husband- mentor had ever taken.