First time’s the charm for college student

Mikaela Mengarelli of Linn joined her boyfriend, Ruan Naude, and brother, Ridge Fullilove, on a hunt near the Sunflower River on Dec. 5 and experienced the hunt of a lifetime. Though she’d never been deer hunting before, Mengarelli harvested a monster 11-point buck that scored 169 7/8 B&C, with a 22-inch spread, 5-inch bases and weighed in at 220 pounds!

Though some may call it beginner’s luck, Mengarelli spent the day before practicing shooting with a 6.5 PRC Browning rifle until she had the hang of it. She completed her hunter safety course and purchased a license the day before the big hunt.

Though this was the first time that she hunted as an adult and shot a weapon of her own, she did go hunting with her grandfather occasionally when she was younger.

Mengarelli and her companions arrived at her uncle’s farm at 3:30 p.m. and took a stand in some tall grass overlooking a field adjacent to the Sunflower River.

“We were all playing on our phones when my boyfriend saw a deer in the tall grass across the field on the edge of the river,” she said. “At first we thought it was a doe because it had its head down, and we couldn’t tell.”

The big reveal

Mengarelli got her rifle ready and before she could shoot it the buck raised his head and they saw the massive rack sticking high in the air. The Mississippi Delta Community College student was up for the task and will have a big story to tell when she gets back to school.

“I shot at the buck, and it didn’t move,” Mengarelli said. “It didn’t move a muscle, so I shot again, and it collapsed in the tall grass and disappeared. We ran over to where he was standing and found him dead right on the spot. He didn’t move an inch.”

Mikaela Mengarelli and her boyfriend, Ruan Naude, with the big 11-point trophy buck taken on Dec. 5.
Mikaela Mengarelli and her boyfriend, Ruan Naude, with the big 11-point trophy buck taken on Dec. 5.

The buck was soaking wet so they surmised that he had just crossed the Sunflower River and was walking through the tall grass on his way to another location.

Ironically, Mengarelli’s uncle, Rodney Walker, had been watching the buck on his game cameras for a couple of years. It seemed appropriate that the young lady had harvested the buck of a lifetime on her first hunt and first time to carry her own rifle. Walker was so proud of his niece that he’s going to pay for her deer to be mounted.

Celebrating the buck

Mengarelli had mixed feelings after shooting the buck at first, but 10 minutes after the kill she got excited that she had shot such a magnificent buck, the deer dreams are made of. Before she knew it the hunters had bloodied her face, in the longtime southern tradition bestowed on a hunter after they’ve harvested their first deer. It is a time honored celebration.

“I love deer meat and enjoyed some grilled backstrap steaks last night,” she said. “I really felt the satisfaction of harvesting a buck and being able to eat the tasty meat and provide food for my family too.”

Mikaela Mengarelli is not your typical community college medical technology student. She’s a sharpshooter, deer slayer and a modern-day Annie Oakley as evidenced by her skilled marksmanship on the deer killed at 200 yards. It just doesn’t get much better than harvesting the buck of a lifetime on your first hunt!

About Michael O. Giles 390 Articles
Mike Giles of Meridian has been hunting and fishing Mississippi since 1965. He is an award-winning wildlife photographer, writer, seminar speaker and guide.

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