SEYMOUR, Indiana — Nic Wilson of Seymour wanted to bag the big one.
Decked out in camouflage, he and his son, Vince, 9, and older brother, Steve Wilson, headed out into the cold, early-morning last Saturday to take part in a tradition for many Hoosiers this time of year — deer hunting.
The result was a good start to the firearms season.
"I ended up getting a 9-point buck around 10?a.m.," Nic told The Tribune (http://bit.ly/1fdPE9b ). "And my brother got an 8-point buck two hours after I killed mine. It was a great opening day for my crew."
Vince didn't end up getting one but hopes that will change the next time they go out.
The Wilsons had been counting down the days until they could get their shotguns out for firearms season, which runs through Dec. 1.
They weren't the only ones.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources estimates that a quarter of a million hunters in the state will participate in firearms season this year, killing thousands of deer.
In 2012, Hoosier hunters killed 136,248 deer with more than 50 percent of the total coming during firearms season, the state reported.
Wilson said he wasn't as lucky.
"I did not have a good year last year," he said.
The harvest isn't expected to be as high this year as deer populations have leveled and many whitetails in Indiana were hit hard by epizootic hemorrhagic disease, according to the state.
Sean Ingalsbe, owner of Seymour Camo and Outdoor, said business was booming Friday as nearly 60 people stopped to buy hunting licenses.
Although he didn't get signed up in time to serve as an official check-in for hunters, Ingalsbe was able to help register people's kills for them on the state's online check-in program Saturday. Six had done so by noon Saturday.
The state now allows hunters to register their own deer online or by phone.
Although he was open Sunday too, Ingalsbe didn't think he would have too many hunters in to register.
"The weather is supposed to get pretty nasty and that will keep a lot of people home," he said.
In all, though, he thought the first day was good for a lot of local hunters.
For Nic, the hours spent in a tree stand, waiting and watching, are worth it when he spots that first buck or doe.
Hunting is much like any sport, and the challenge can be both fun and frustrating, Nic said
"I like the thrill of the hunt. The pressure you have when seeing a deer, especially a buck," he said. "It's a lot like sports. You must perform under pressure or you'll have to say 'he's gone' to that deer."
One of the more important aspects of hunting, Nic said, is taking it seriously and having a plan in place. Too many people expect to head out in the woods with their shotgun and little preparation and shoot a big buck, he said.
"It can be boring if you don't do your homework, and by that I mean picking a good spot," he said.
Angel Wente, 21, of Cortland, shot her first deer when she was 7 years old and has loved hunting ever since.
It's an activity she and her husband, Clayton, enjoy doing together and it helps put food on the table.
"I love being out in the woods. It's so peaceful," she said. "And knowing that we will have deer meat to eat makes it worth it, too."
She tries to rise early with the die-hard hunters, but with a baby at home, that doesn't always happen.
"I take advantage of all the extra sleep when I can," she said.
Wente logged around seven hours in the woods Saturday and planned to try again Sunday.
"I was out for about three hours this morning and then about four hours this evening," she said. "I saw two bucks and seven does but couldn't get a clean shot on any of them."
She shot her first buck, a small six-pointer, last year.
Growing up with four brothers, Wente said hunting was a way of life for her family. It's a tradition she wants to pass on to her own kids.
"My daughter will have the same opportunities I was given as a child to hunt," she said.
Saturday was a big day for Johnnie Spivey of Seymour and his wife, Carol, who went hunting together.
Not only was it Johnnie's birthday, it ended up being the day Carol bagged her first buck.
"I have been married to Johnnie for almost 20 years, and if you had asked me before then if I would ever shoot a deer, the answer would have been no," she said.
A hunter since the age of 9, her husband's passion has since rubbed off on her.
This year, Carol decided she didn't want to be the hunter who has never shot a deer.
She had passed up several opportunities in the past because she didn't want to kill a doe. "It's a mom thing," she said, and she didn't want to kill a small buck.
Right after the sun rose Saturday morning, she said she heard something and looked over to see a buck to her right.
"I had very little time to react, getting my gun in place and finding the deer in my scope," she said. "He was just passing through and I wasn't fast enough to get a shot."
But as she pulled the gun away she saw another buck right behind the first.
"I tried to find it in the first clearing but was too slow," she said. "I had one more chance before the deer would be too far behind me and in the thick woods."
So she said a prayer, sighted and pulled the trigger.
The deer stumbled off to the right and fell down an embankment, she said.
"I prayed he would stay there so we would not have to track him," she said.
"Then the realization sank in. I was so nervous and excited and shaking. I almost cried, just thinking how long I had waited for this moment."
An hour went by and Carol walked down to the embankment to see if the deer was still there.
"There he was. My first buck," she said. "It was amazing. God was good to me today and I give him the glory for the good shot and the chance to take my first deer."
Information from: The (Seymour) Tribune, http://www.tribtown.com