Meet Layla. She lives in Southwest VA and she has a huge amount of passion for the outdoors! Earlier this month Layla posted a photo collage on one of the women’s hunting groups that I follow showing all of her harvest for 2021. She remarked how grateful she was to have been able to harvest these animals and how she can’t wait to see what 2022 has in store. When I reached out to her to see if she would be interested in participating, she was super eager to do so. You can follow her on Instagram too!
Not only does Layla have an over abundant love for the outdoors when it comes to fishing and hunting, but she also enjoys camping in her vintage 1966 Zipper camper, which she is in the process of remodeling.
Layla, I wish you the best of luck in all of your adventures of 2022, especially with your new compound bow! Layla told me that for Christmas she received an Elite Ember and she’s super excited to practice with it all summer and hunt with it in the fall. Thanks again for putting this together and being so willing to share your stories and experiences!
I started fishing with my dad when I was a young girl. My dad has always enjoyed fishing and I never wanted to miss out on an opportunity to spend time with him. Unfortunately, he quit hunting as often when my sister and I were born. It wasn’t until I was 23 or so when I finally got into hunting myself. I was always interested in it but never had the chance to go.
One day I decided I was ready to start. I bought a pink and black Mission by Mathews compound bow and started practicing. Luckily I had permission to hunt on a family friend’s property, so one summer I scouted out some ideal locations (or so I thought) and built some ground blinds. I even put up a tree stand. I hunted faithfully for a whole season and only ever saw one doe and several turkeys. Considering I was hunting with a compound bow I never had a good shot. Although I knew I loved hunting I was discouraged. After hearing so many successful hunting stories I didn’t understand why I hadn’t at least seen more. The next couple of seasons after that I wasn’t able to get in the woods as often as I would’ve liked but I did go a few times, still never seeing or having a shot at anything. It wasn’t until late season 2020, I had just started dating my boyfriend and he is an avid hunter. I went out with him one evening and I finally got my first deer! He wasn’t a monster by any means, but it was my first and it was a buck! I knew then that I was hooked! We spent the summer of 2021 working on food plots, checking stands, and hiking through the woods. I even found my first shed! Although I had plenty, I bought some new cute camo because I mean come on.. can you ever have enough!? I was ready!
Early archery started October 2nd here in Virginia but unfortunately, I had to miss opening day. I was able to get out on the 5th and I shot a doe at 20 yards with a crossbow. The very next day we decided to hunt in a different location. We went out that evening hoping to get a shot at a big buck when a black bear walked out in the upper food plot. It was moving quickly. By the time I got ready and stopped him it was behind some branches so I had to let him walk. Luckily this blind overlooks two food plots and he was heading in the direction of the second food plot. I changed seats and opened the back window. I propped my crossbow out the window and waited for what seemed like FOREVER (probably 5 minutes). Here he comes from the corner of the field and he was on a mission. We finally got him stopped. My boyfriend ranged him at 70 yards. I even questioned him like 70!? Are you sure!? He said, yep 70! I aimed and took the shot. I was convinced I had missed him.
The lumenok didn’t go off and it looked like the arrow went low. We decided to climb down about 10 minutes later to see if we could find the arrow or hopefully blood. To my surprise we found blood, a lot of blood! I was stoked! Let the tracking begin! We tracked him through the woods about 40 yards and THERE HE WAS! We jumped, high fived, hugged and celebrated real quick. My boyfriend was so proud of me and that made it even more exciting for me! He crashed right next to the path and we were able to back the truck right up to him. It couldn’t have been more perfect!
A couple of weeks later I was able to tag my first gobbler. After watching him for about 30 minutes he makes a hard left turn and heads right up to the blind. I was able to make a clean shot at 20 yards. He had a 7 inch beard.
On October 30th (muzzleloader) right before dark a tall 8 pointer walks into the field. He came in to run off two small bucks. After a few mishaps, hitting the gun on the window.. twice.. the buck is still there. I couldn’t see him through my scope the first time he stopped.. There was a branch in the way and then the second time I had a shot I wasn’t even on the trigger. My finger was under the trigger where you break the gun down…rookie mistake. Then finally he stops a third time and I finally have the shot. I took it and he ran. I knew I was on him but the way he ran I wasn’t convinced I hit him. My heart was racing and my mind was cloudy. We climbed down and searched for 45 mins for blood.. nothing. We decided to call it a night and go back the next morning. When we went back the next morning things were more clear. I realized he was standing directly behind a thin branch and there it was a chip right at the top of the branch. I had missed and hit the branch. I was so discouraged, but relieved to know I didn’t just injure the deer.
One November evening we debated on going because we weren’t sure if it would be worth it. It was already around 4:45pm. We had gone to town and took longer than expected, but we decided what the heck let’s go see if we see anything. We threw our gear on and booked it to the blind behind the house. We weren’t prepared at all! We forgot the binoculars, hadn’t sprayed down with scent killer, and half way up I realized I didn’t even have my contacts in. I said, “Tonight will be the night we get a big one because we’re not even prepared.. that’s how it normally goes.” We see two mature doe come to the field and even jokingly named them Little Debbie because they were hefty. I didn’t have a good feeling about it harvesting a doe that evening so I held out for a buck. We didn’t have much daylight left and considering I didn’t have my contacts in it was even more difficult than normal for me to see. I said, “If we’re going to get one this evening it’s going to have to be soon.” No sooner than I finished that statement I heard something barreling down the mountain. It was obvious it was running. All at once a buck ran into the field and chased one of the doe in a circle before stopped for a split second to graze. I waited for it to walk into an opening and took my shot. I waited and heard him crash within seconds. I was shaking so bad I couldn’t stand it. I finally got my big buck! I knew he was a decent size but I didn’t know how big because it all happened so fast. Once we got to him I realized he was a 9 point! I was so happy! Of course I decided to get him mounted considering it was my first good size buck! At this point between a half bear mount and now a buck mount I’m racking up a pretty big bill with the taxidermist.
The rest of the season was pretty slow, but we did manage to stock the freezer with a few more doe and of course help out some of our family with some meat as well. This past hunting season has been nothing short of a blessing for me. I can honestly say I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time. One of the biggest lessons I learned is to be a successful huntress you have to be dedicated. That is one thing I can honestly say about my 2021 season.. I was dedicated and for that it was a successful hunting season!
I’m definitely hooked! It’s a hobby I’m not willing to give up! I want to continue to practice and grow with the sport and continue to get better. I hope more women can learn to love hunting as much as I do. There’s something about being in nature that heals wounds and soothes the soul!