Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Unique journey leads Wisconsin’s Boyer Fenske to 11-pointer

Waupaca, Wis. — Deb Boyer Fenske is one of Wisconsin’s most enthusiastic deer hunters after having followed an unconventional path to becoming a hunter.

Boyer Fenske did not come from a hunting family and had no real interest in hunting, even after marrying her husband, Steve Fenske, who had hunted deer with a slug-gun most of his life.

Then Gusmer Enterprises, the Waupaca company she was working for at the time, developed an absorbent material that was originally designed to be used as an air freshener. A new sales manager was hired, who happened to be an avid deer hunter, and the decision was made to market the new product as a dispersal medium for deer-attracting scents – once it was cut into doughnut-shaped pads about 2 inches in diameter and renamed Doe Nuts.

Boyer Fenske began attending trade shows in 1997 to promote the new product.

“Hunters loved the samples and when Robinson Outdoors came on board, we knew this would be fun to run with,” she said. “Over the next few years we promoted the product to many deer-scent makers.”

When a friend’s daughter wanted to take a DNR hunter safety class, Boyer Fenske volunteered to drive her to Wausau.

“The class was so interesting, I paid the fee and joined the kids,” she said. “That’s how I got hooked on deer hunting.”

Preparing to hunt

Once she decided to start hunting, Boyer Fenske immersed herself in learning about hunting equipment and techniques.

“When I left Gusmer in 2011, I got a job at Cabela’s when they opened in Green Bay, and I sold camo clothing,” she said. “I learned more about camo clothing than most people want to know. I started buying the products and accumulated a lot of clothing.”

When the store offered a 27% employee discount, she bought a .50 caliber Wolf muzzleloader.

“I also bought a Diamond bow by Bowtech. It’s not a big bow. It’s a girl’s bow, and I was getting pretty good shooting it,” she said. “I already had an H&R 20-gauge single-shot shotgun.”

Boyer Fenske left Cabela’s after a couple of years, looking for new opportunities, while her former sales manager continued to mentor her as she started bowhunting.

“He helped me learn to be patient and observe the area around my stand, to see how deer move from cover to feeding areas and what attracts them,” she said. “I also learned to look at the rack to see if the buck’s antlers extended beyond its ears, and how high they (tines) went.”

Hunting success, losses

She received permission to hunt on land south of Waupaca.

“After a few years of sitting, learning and taking pictures of every animal that came out, I shot my first buck,” she said. “I got really excited and started shaking when that 6-point buck came by, but I made a good shot.”

She tracked the deer to a neighboring property, but was denied permission to retrieve it.

“I was devastated; it was a clean shot and we found a lot of blood.

I knew that deer would soon die if it wasn’t already dead.”

Boyer Fenske was ready to quit hunting, but her husband and her mentor encouraged her to push through. They told her such things can happen at some point. A few seasons later, a 9-point buck came near her stand, and this time there was a better outcome.

“I started shaking again, but I made the shot with an Excaliber Vortex crossbow. He’s on my wall,” Boyer Fenske said.

“Last year I shot a big 8-pointer with that crossbow. I tracked him right to someone’s garage. But the garage door was closed. The owner said he never saw it, and I never found it.”

Persistence rewarded

This season Boyer Fenske beat the odds, even though she was hunting with a sprained right knee, and a protective boot covering a broken left heel. She had set her sights on a big buck that she had photographed the previous season. She saw the buck this season on Oct. 4, but couldn’t get a shot. Three days later, Fenske was back in her hub blind that was tucked into a row of spruce trees next to a pasture, but it seemed the odds were against her again.

“Normally I would be dressed from head-to-toe in Sitka camo, after washing with unscented soap and using scent blockers, but I had been at an estate sale and was running late so I just grabbed my plaid jacket and went out.”

A couple of smaller bucks came out. Then, suddenly, a big buck was in front of her blind, moving cautiously, still not offering a shot.

“Finally he turned to the right and slowly walked to grab an apple, and was in the perfect spot, 25 yards away, when I pulled the trigger on my crossbow, he jumped twice and saw him go down a hill.”

The aluminum arrow, tipped with a 125-grain Muzzy broadhead, went through the buck, but there was no blood trail.

“I tracked his hoof prints for 100 yards, offering up several prayers along the way, until I spotted his brown rump on the other side of a rock wall,” she said.

Patience and persistence paid off as Boyer Fenske claimed her 11-point buck that weighed 234 pounds before field dressing, and tentatively scored 134½ points.

“I never thought deer hunting would become a passion, but at age 61, it still is,” she said. “The peaceful quiet, and nature’s beautiful atmosphere are what I look forward to every year. It’s my time to relax and appreciate the animals that God created.”

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