90-Year-Old Idaho Woman Celebrates 80th Hunting Season With a Mule Deer Buck

by Amy Myers
Photo credit KAREN BLEIER/AFP via Getty Images

When you have 80 years of experience hunting mule deer, it’s not a question of if you take down a buck but rather, how often.

Recently, Idaho hunter Mildred Bryant celebrated her 90th birthday, but just as significant was the fact that she was able to ring in her 80th rifle season by taking down an impressive mule deer buck. She’s a living reminder that age really is just a reminder and that you’re never too old to enjoy the great outdoors.

“There is nothing wrong with the outdoor life. I truly believe that,” Bryant said.

Her most recent hunt took place near Malta, Idaho. Alongside her daughter and fellow hunter Linda Erickson as well as Erickson’s son, Bryant did what she does best and aimed her sight at a three-by-four mule deer across the landscape. Though likely not the biggest buck Bryant ever shot, it was a momentous occasion nonetheless.

“I just wanted to say I hunted something for 80 years,” Bryant shared.

Erickson and her son, Ryan, helped set up their matriarch huntress with a tripod and Bryant’s own .270. Unfortunately, though, the 90-year-old deer hunter couldn’t see out of the scope. So, they switched it out for Ryan’s 6.5 Creedmoor. From 224 yards away, she dropped the buck on the spot.

“It was quite exciting,” she shared in the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s press release. “We loaded up the buck and hauled it back to the shop to hang. Then gutted it out. We had some that night.”

90-Year-Old Hunter Recalls Her Very First Hunt at 9 Years Old

Bryant’s deer hunting history began when she was a young girl in Coos Bay, Oregon. At the time, her partner was her father who introduced her to the thrill and wonder that accompanies the big game sport.

“I’ve hunted all my life and shot my first deer when I was 9 years old,” Bryant shared with Idaho’s Public Information Specialist Connor Liess.

Eighty-one years ago, Bryant headed out on her very first hunt. And just like her most recent conquest, nothing was going to stop this determined and independent woman from lining up those crosshairs – not even her own father. That day, her dad decided to take her brother deer hunting instead of her. Upset but still willing, Bryant snagged her dad’s rifle off the wall and took off into the woods. That day, she shot her first buck.

There was just one problem – carrying it out of the field. Still, this didn’t stop her from improvising.

“I went and got a rope and hung it by its horns up in a tree. I gutted it out and hung it up so it would drain good.”

She waited until her father got home before sharing her exploits. Naturally, at first, he didn’t believe Bryant.

“My dad was so mad at me,” she remembered. “He could’ve blistered my butt, but he didn’t. I remember I was starting to bawl because I thought he wasn’t going to listen to me. But I needed to get the deer home.”

Sure enough, nine-year-old Bryant led her dad to the tree where the deer hung. Still steaming, her father helped her take it home. Lucky for her, the deer’s hide was the only one that got tanned.