Twins Kara (left) and Avery with their Indiana bucks. Eric Hinderliter
Eric Hinderliter, 37, of New Harmony, Indiana, is a dedicated father, husband, and hunter. Lately he’s been walking on air after his twin nine-year-old daughters, Kara and Avery, each shot their first big bucks during Indiana’s youth hunt last weekend.
Avery was hunting with her dad Saturday afternoon on their southern Indiana property. Kara—the younger of the twin girls by one minute—was hunting with her mother, Krystal Hinderliter.
Each team of Hinderliters was hunting from elevated box blinds overlooking planted food plots in CRP fields. The terrain is ideal deer habitat: flat and fertile lowlands that flood regularly.
“We got into the blind about 4:30 p.m., and it was 80-degrees, muggy and buggy,” Hinderliter told Outdoor Life. “Our blind was overlooking a food plot where I had trail cameras set up and I’d been watching a good buck on the spot since April. We’d planned and waited for the chance to get him that opening day of Indiana’s youth deer hunting season.”
Avery waits behind her crossbow in the blind. Eric Hinderliter
Hunters under the age of 17 are eligible for Indiana’s youth hunt. They must be accompanied by an adult, and the youth hunter can take a doe or buck with a bow or gun. Avery had shot a doe during the 2022 Indiana youth season, and she was ready when she got into the blind with her dad this year.
“We weren’t in our blind long and a doe with three fawns stepped out of the CRP to feed in the food plot,” Eric says. “They were close, and the doe was edgy in the small half-acre plot.”
The father and daughter were careful in their movements and silent as they watched the deer feeding nearby. Then another doe stepped out, followed by two sets of does and fawns.
Avery was ready with a Ravin R29 crossbow, fitted with a carbon bolt and a two-inch expandable broadhead, resting on a portable tripod in their box blind.
“She shoots that Ravin well, consistently hitting soda cans out to 80 yards,” Eric says.
They watched the does, and at 6:15 the 10-point mature buck that had been appearing on trail cam since April stepped into the field.
“Avery spotted it first, and when I looked up, the buck was turned toward us at just 20 yards,” Eric says. “I knew the deer was going to go behind us. So we had to quietly move the tripod and bow so she could shoot out a different window.”
Avery with her first buck. Eric Hinderliter
They pulled off the maneuver without spooking the buck. Then the deer turned sideways and Eric whistled softly to stop it so Avery could shoot. She did, making what looked like a perfect hit behind its shoulder. The buck took off into a thicket bordering the food plot.
At dark they checked the spot where the buck had stood, and Eric thought the deer would be down within 200 yards. But it wasn’t, and the blood trail was light and difficult to follow.
So he returned to their cabin, where they met with Krystal and Kara, and their 5-year-old son, Ty. Kara and Krystal had been hunting in another box blind overlooking a different food plot on their land. They saw deer, but Kara passed them waiting for the right buck to show.
Eric has a well-trained Catahoula tracking hound that is long experienced in trailing deer. He uses the dog to help hunters track hit whitetails in Indiana and two nearby states. He says Moose helped recover 70 whitetails last year.
“We went back to where Avery shot her deer long after dark, and I had Moose on a leash and we started trailing it,” Eric says. “The woods were thick with underbrush, and almost no blood from the buck. But Moose kept on the trail, and about 500 yards into the timber he found the deer dead.”
The arrow hit the buck farther back in the chest than Eric believed, so it went far without much blood into the brush. “Thank goodness for Moose,” Eric says.
From left: Eric, Avery, Ty, Krystal with Avery’s buck, which Moose helped recover. Courtesy of Eric Hinderliter
The family was able to drive an ATV close to the buck, which Eric estimates weighed about 230 pounds. Then they loaded the deer and headed back to their cabin for the night, putting the buck in a walk-in cooler at camp.
Avery’s first buck is a main-frame 10 point with an additional kicker. Eric guesses it’ll score 150 inches or more.
Kara with her 9-point Indiana buck. Eric Hinderliter
The next afternoon, Kara and her mother, Krystal, climbed into a box blind overlooking the food plot where they hunted previously. They started seeing does and fawns within an hour. Krystal kept a running phone-text commentary with Eric through their afternoon and evening hunt.
“The spike and doe are back from yesterday,” she texted. “Kara is going to shoot the doe if it comes in front of us. Got another spike in front of us. Eight does in all.”
But just a few minutes later a huge buck stepped out. Kara shot it perfectly behind the shoulder. She was hunting with a custom AR-style youth rifle that Eric had built. It’s chambered in .350 Legend, shooting a 180-grain hollow-point bullet.
“Kara got really lucky that her buck stepped out when it did, because she was going to shoot a doe,” Eric says of his daughter’s first deer. “Her buck only went 100 yards. The bullet did its job fast, and we drove my truck right to the deer, loaded it and went back to our cabin where we all celebrated.”
Kara with her mom, Krystal, after their hunt together. Eric Hinderliter
The buck weighed well over 200 pounds, and its estimated score is over 140 inches, Eric says. Both deer will be mounted by a taxidermist, and Eric is trying to decide how they should be posed, and where to display them for all the family to enjoy in years to come.
“We have a spot in my man cave where they’d look great on a wall,” says Eric, chuckling. “But I guess we’d have to change the name of the spot to ‘Family Cave.’”
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