90-year-old Ohioan still hunts deer
I was shopping in our local hardware store just days before Ohio’s annual deer-gun season started when I spotted a familiar figure at the counter buying a hunting license.
Maxine Kelly was again planning to pursue whitetails in Gallia County. The only thing unusual about that fact is that Maxine is now 90 years old and still relishing every minute of the hunt.
It’s been 10 years since I first wrote about this crusty and independent lady – known to her many nephews as “Aunt Max.”
She lives alone in a tidy cottage in London and is the ultimate outdoors woman. She has been since age 12 when her father first put a .410 shotgun in her hands and guided her into the woods.
Since then, Maxine has hunted moose in Alaska, pheasant in Iowa, and deer in Colorado. In her younger days, she also golfed and played softball.
She used to fish, too. But she gave that up after hooking a 52-pound king salmon during an Alaskan camping trip. Maxine figured she could never top that experience!
Her biggest deer was an eight-pointer that she harvested near Irwin in Union County.
Over the years, she’s seen Ohio’s natural landscape change dramatically. Once there were only squirrels, rabbits, and pheasants in her gun sights. Now, she encounters wild turkey and white-tailed deer, as well.
Although she has no children of her own, she’s proud to say she mentored many of her nephews and their friends to develop a variety of outdoor skills.
Her favorite hunting trip remains the one she takes with family members annually during gun season to a cabin in Gallia County.
Although her step is not quite as spritely as it used to be, she can still tramp the hills with the help of her 72-year-old brother Larry Kelly, nephew Roy Kelly, and his friend, Rick Hughes.
Their 2019 hunting trip was a disappointment. It was cold and rainy and the group spotted nary a whitetail during several days at the cabin, she said.
That structure itself is beginning to be a problem and may limit their future excursions.
“It’s antique-ee,” Maxine lamented.
Used only in the season, the cabin is showing generations of wear and tear with a collapsing roof and other much-needed repairs.
Her family tried to buy it once. But things got complicated and they gave up the effort, she said.
Does she ever expect to give up the outdoor life?
“I plan to go hunting again next year if that old house is still standing,” Maxine said with her typical enthusiasm.