September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Buck fever

Schornack snatches eight-pointer during deer opener weekend
Mary Schornack looks at two set of antlers from bucks she shot in previous years. This year marks Schornack’s 19th year deer hunting. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY MISSY MUSSMAN
Mary Schornack looks at two set of antlers from bucks she shot in previous years. This year marks Schornack’s 19th year deer hunting. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY MISSY MUSSMAN

By by Missy Mussman- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

NEW YORK MILLS, Minn. - For Mary Schornack, Nov. 4 was a day she had been waiting for all year, the opening day of the firearm deer-hunting season.
"It is my favorite," Schornack said. "I just love the sport of it."
This season marked her 19th year deer hunting and Schornack started her season right by shooting an eight-point buck. Schornack milks 50 cows with her husband, Chuck, and their son, Chad (27), on their farm in Otter Tail County near New York Mills, Minn.
"It was exciting," Schornack said.
Schornack's love for deer hunting started at a young age.
"My dad and my four brothers were all avid deer hunters," Schornack said. "I grew up around guns. I never went hunting with them, but I remember they would come back with their deer and put them in the garage. I just loved it."
Even though she never went hunting as a kid, Schornack took the initiative to learn how to shoot.
"I taught myself," she said. "I was never scared of it. I liked it. I am a pretty good shot. Mom told me that I'm like my dad."
That love carried into her adult life, but it was still difficult to find time to deer hunt when her six children, Todd (31), Scott (28), Chad, Brian (24), Beth (22) and Mari (19) were little.
"I never had time when they were young," she said. "They were my life at that point."
However, she finally started hunting when Todd was old enough to take his firearm safety course.
"Once he was old enough, I told him we were going hunting," she said. "I wanted my kids to experience hunting, so I taught him how to shoot and took him to his firearm safety course."
Once he completed the course, Schornack took him out deer hunting for the first time on their land near one of their irrigated fields in a wooded area.
"It was just the two of us," she said. "We saw an eight-point buck. My heart started racing and it felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. I shot it first in the spine and Todd finished it off."
That buck was a first for both her and Todd.
"That was a really cool experience getting my first deer with my son," Schornack said. "Once I got my first one, I was hooked."
Todd wasn't the only one she taught to shoot and took hunting. She taught each of her kids the skill she holds dear to her heart.
"It is neat to be able to teach my kids how to do that," Schornack said. "Deer hunting is something most kids do with their dads, so it's special that they get to do that with me, their mom. It became a yearly thing with the kids. I just love the looks on their faces when they get their first deer."
Some of the traditions she and her kids used to do on the eve of deer opener was getting out their blaze orange gear, making a big pot of chili, drinking hot chocolate and listening to the "30-Point Buck" song.
"We always had so much fun," she said.
Since her kids have grown and with five grandchildren running around, Schornack has started to go deer hunting on her own more now. But some of her kids still spend time hunting with Schornack.
"Todd usually comes home to deer hunt with me each year," she said. "But this year he couldn't make it."
Over the last 19 years, Schornack has installed 21 deer stands on their land and has gotten the tricks of deer hunting down to a science.
"I always pay attention to the direction of the wind so I place myself in the right spot so they can't smell me. Deer can usually smell you before you even see them," Schornack said. "To help mask my scent, I usually get dressed in my hunting gear and go into the barn and stand there for five minutes to get that smell on me. The deer aren't scared of that smell."
She has also learned to stay calm.
"I used to get Buck Fever, but its best to stay calm and not take the shot too fast," she said. "I like to get them to come closer to me."
After 19 years, she has also learned the best times to hunt for deer.
"When there are more people in the woods, hunting is good because the deer are moving around more," she said. "Another good time is when they are rutting."
When deer hunting, Schornack makes sure to bring several tools including scent bombs to attract the deer and her grunt call. But the one thing she has always brought with her is her .30-30 rifle.
"It was actually my brother's gun. He gave it to me and it's become my lucky gun," Schornack said. "I shot my first deer with that gun."
Schornack may be passing down her luck to her youngest daughter, Mari, by giving her the .30-30 rifle.
"We always provide each of our kids with a gun," Schornack said. "I don't know for sure though. I love this gun."
This season is going to be the last season using no scope - just open sites.
"My eyes are changing," she said. "I am finally going to get a scope. It'll be like using binoculars."
During the off-season, Schornack shoots in different leagues and participates in goose hunting, duck hunting, pheasant hunting and deer hunting during bow season. But her love has always been the firearm season.
"It's a good sport, and I love the outdoors," Schornack said. "I could sit in the deer stand all day, everyday."
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