When Ruth Paine’s most recent deer walked into view on Nov. 4, the 74-year-old Oxford hunter said she briefly thought about her husband, Ron. That deer was supposed to be his, she said. That’s just the way it was going to be.

“We had an agreement that if a really big one came by, he was going to shoot it,” Ruth said. “If a seven-pointer comes, a six-pointer, I could shoot it. Because he hasn’t shot a really big one for a while.”

But Ron wasn’t with her at that point in time, Ruth explained. He’d stepped out of their shared hunting tent and walked about 400 yards away after hearing gunshots. Ron wanted to know if any nearby hunters had shot a deer, and whether they needed help.

Ron texted his wife a bit later, telling her that the hunter had apparently missed. He was heading back to the ground blind, and would be there soon.

Before he got there, Ruth had a visitor. And the veteran hunter knew exactly what to do.

First, distant branches started moving. Then she saw the deer’s face, and its antlers. She steadied her rifle on a shooting stick, waited for an opportunity, and took advantage of that chance when it came.

“[The deer] was on a mission. He was moving right along. There was one little opening where I could see him really good, broadside, and that was it. I shot him,” she said.

By the time her husband returned, Ruth was already 90 yards from the tent, looking for the buck. In a video, Ruth can be heard celebrating her own success.

“This is a great day. This is the most awesome thing that’s happened to me in years,” she said.

The buck was a 10-pointer that weighed 193.5 pounds. Ruth said on the video she simply wanted the chance to take one more big buck, and this one certainly qualified.

The deer was the 26th that Ruth has shot since bagging her first back in 1974, she said. Among those are a monstrous 220-pound eight-pointer that she shot in 1995, and a 10-pointer.

Hunting has been a family affair for the Paines, and the couple, who have been married for 55 years, still look forward to spending time together in the woods.

On Nov. 4, they rose before sunrise, crept silently to their blind, and settled in for the hunt. Not much happened at first, but the couple was prepared for that, Ruth said.

“We get bored after a while and we start eating our donuts and whatnot. Sometimes we bring coffee. And thank goodness for texting, because if we get really bored, we text someone,” she said.

Outdoor activities are important to the Paines, and the couple still look forward to spending time together in the woods after 55 years of marriage.

“We’re foragers, we go picking mushrooms and fiddleheads, we go fishing,” Ruth said. “I’d rather be outdoors than inside. It’s beautiful.”

And how did Ron feel about Ruth shooting the big buck they’d decided would be his? He didn’t mind a bit.

“My goal was for her to get a deer. I didn’t know it would be that big, but I was happy for her,” he said.

Postscript: On Monday, the Paines took a break from processing yet another deer to do a phone interview. The deer they were cutting up — a 163-pound six-pointer — was the one Ron shot on Nov. 14.

And when Ron shot the buck, guess who was sitting right beside him? That’s right. Ruth.

“I was with him. Whoever gets their deer first, the other one still goes. We do everything together,” she said.

Do you have a deer story to tell? Send it along to jholyoke@bangordailynews.com

Avatar photo

John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...