An 8-year-old girl in Iowa scored a massive, 179⅜-inch whitetail buck earlier this year during the state’s youth season, marking it her third big buck in as many years.
As the stepdaughter of Victory Outdoors’ Curt Goettsch, Natalie Kesper has a built-in advantage when it comes to Iowa whitetail hunting. But, as Goettsch explained to F & S, she made a nice shot with her 20-gauge shotgun, and she’s learned a lot about scouting and stalking from her stepfather.
“Natalie made an outstanding shot with her 20-gauge shotgun, and now she’s proud to tell everyone that she’s killed a bigger buck than I have, and I couldn’t be happier for her,” he said.
Before September’s youth season began, Goettsch and Kesper scouted the hayfield they wanted to hunt using magnified optics from 600 yards away. They saw several bucks Kesper said she wanted to take, but they didn’t see the monster she eventually shot until the morning of their hunt.
“We never saw the buck she did kill until we looked at trail-cam pics the morning of her hunt. At 4 a.m., the buck walked right by the blind we wanted to hunt, headed for a bedding area,” Goettsch said.
They had hunted that field for several years, so they understood deer movements and where the animals bed down each night. They chose a blind based on the wind direction in the evening, and the buck they shot showed up 40 yards from their blind.
Kesper said she loves deer and turkey hunting, but whitetail hunting is her favorite for a reason all hunters can identify with.
“I like to watch all of the animals, but especially the deer, up close in the fall. I think I like deer hunting a little better than turkey hunting because we hunt afternoons for deer, and I get to sleep in. In the spring we have to get up really early to hunt turkeys. I like turkey hunting, but I like my sleep, too,” she said.
This isn’t Kesper’s first big buck, either. In 2018, when she was 6, Natalie took a 10-point buck that scored 150-2/8, and last year she shot a 9-point that scored 134⅝.
Despite her amazing and early success, Goettsch said he wants to make sure she understands the basics of a successful hunt.
“I want her to learn the basics in hunting, so that when she hunts later in life, on her own, she can make good decisions,” Goettsch said.
Whatever she’s hunting Kesper said she does it to help feed her family.
“We eat the meat,” she said. Goettsch added, “Our family lives on game. We harvest no less than five adult deer every fall, which ensures we won’t run out.”