Wildlife biologist goes on first hunt with LSON Foundation

Written by Craig Nhyus, Lone Star Outdoor News

Jessica Alderson of San Antonio knows a lot about wildlife, wildlife biology and urban and rural wildlife management. As an assistant in a veterinary clinic, she worked directly with animals. As a wildlife biology student at Texas A&M University, she learned about wildlife management and performed necropsies on wildlife. And, as an urban biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, she has answered nearly every question imaginable about wildlife and worked on controlling deer populations in urban environments.

But she had never hunted.

Not until Texas A&M Department of Wildlife and Fisheries professor, Clark Adams, was asked about former students involved in the profession who had never hunted.

Adams recommended the former undergraduate and graduate student, and at the age of 36, Jessica was invited to her first deer hunt with the Lone Star Outdoor News Foundation.

At the range, after some instruction, her second shot was within an inch of the target. The guides couldn’t see where the third shot hit.

“Do you think it went through the bull’s eye?” asked guide Cole Farris while looking through the Nikons.

The 100-yard walk showed she was ready, as a hole pierced the only non-reflective portion of the reflective target.

“I’m still not sure I can shoot at an animal,” she said.

“You don’t have to,” she was told. “We’ll just watch them and then we can decide.”

Jessica’s first evening hunt involved watching several deer, without any attempt to put the gun out of the blind’s window.

The next morning’s hunt was somewhat forgettable. After a few hours with seeing only a few too-young deer, the group decided to exit the blind and see if some bucks could be rattled up during the December South Texas rut.

As her husband, Chris, opened the door and stepped out of the ground blind, a tall but narrow-antlered buck stepped out and stared, sensing the movement. With her husband hiding behind the blind, she prepared for the shot. After several minutes of waiting for the wary deer to turn and step out from behind some brush and grass, she was given the OK.

The shot was a clean miss and the buck trotted off.

“I was shaking too badly,” Jessica said. “I probably shouldn’t have shot. I’m glad I missed it and the buck wasn’t injured.”

The miss caused a reaction that hunters and guides like to see. The hunter was mad at herself — and more determined to make the next opportunity count.

That evening, she did — and that buck didn’t move or walk away.

“I took my time and made sure I was ready,” Jessica said. “It was so exciting — I couldn’t wait to go and see him.”

The text came from the guide, Cole Farris, to the other hunters, including Chris, who was watching some nice bucks in another blind.

“Hurry up and get over here,” it read. “She’s going crazy wanting to see her deer.”

On the final morning, the plan was simply to watch and scout more deer. Few deer were seen, but javelinas under the feeder changed the plan. With only a shotgun available, she and the guide performed a sneak and the shot showed that Jessica is now what the foundation’s mission is all about.

She got the opportunity.

She is now a hunter.