When Kevin and Lindsay met six years ago, she’d never been hunting and he’d been a diehard outdoorsman since age 9. That may sound like a tough recipe for true love, but Lindsay says she has always been a bit of a tomboy at heart and had long nurtured an interest in the sport. So she asked Kevin if she could give hunting a try.
“For the first few years, I probably only went out four or five times a season,” she says. “But I liked the sport and action of hunting. It’s something we can do together. We don’t have to be in the same tree or blind, but we are about 95 percent of the time.”
By 2010, Lindsay had started to get more serious about hunting. “That was the first year that we found a deer and I went after it until he finally came in,” she says of her first successful deer hunt, in which she tagged this 129-inch buck only five days before her wedding.
Why would two serious deer hunters decide to get married in November? Well, deer season wasn’t the only obstacle to work around. “Kevin wanted to marry in fall, and we had to wait for a bye week,” Lindsay says, laughing. “You can’t get married on an Ohio State game day; that’s sacrilegious.” “You shouldn’t get married during the rut, either,” Kevin adds, “but we did.”
Kevin learned most of his hunting skills from his dad, but in the past few years he has gotten more serious about using trail cams to pattern bucks. His efforts paid off in 2010, when he shot this 170-inch buck, his biggest ever.
The deer, known as “Corncob,” now holds pride of place as the biggest buck in Kevin and Lindsay’s home. But more on that later.
Kevin says his father nicknamed the buck after observing from trail cam photos that the big whitetail’s gnarly brow tines resembled corncobs. And just as he learned deer hunting from his dad, Kevin passed on what he knew to Lindsay, who appreciates all his help. “Kevin does a lot of the hard work for me, so I can’t take all the credit,” she says. “He’s the one carrying the 50-pound bags of corn and checking the trail cams every week. It’s nice to have someone who knows what he’s doing to show me how it’s done.”
In 2011, Lindsay followed up her first successful hunt by tagging a doe in early February. “Neither one of us had gotten a deer in fall, so it was kind of like, ‘We’d better get one so we can have some meat,” says Lindsay. “I attended culinary school, so I’m into cooking. We really enjoy our venison.”
After leaving their buck tags unfilled in 2011, the Grooms bounced back in a big way this season. Kevin found this 135-inch buck on his trail cameras in September and started eagerly looking forward to Ohio’s archery opener on September 29.
It didn’t take him long to close the deal; he shot the buck on October 1. Soon after he turned his attention to scouting up a big buck for Lindsay.
Kevin and Lindsay both say he gets more excited when she shoots a buck that when he does. “Sometimes I have to pull him back, he gets so rattled after I make a shot,” she says. “I was calm and collected when I shot my buck in October,” adds Kevin, “not like when she shoots. It’s a crazier rush.” So when he hung a trail camera in a different spot in mid October and started immediately getting photos of a big buck, Kevin was pumped. “I told Lindsay, ‘Oh, man, we’ve got a good one here, and he’s a regular. We definitely need to be after this buck and we should be able to dial him in.'”
In fact, he told his wife that if the wind was right on November 6–their second wedding anniversary–they should hunt. “I was OK with it,” Lindsay says. “What are you gonna do? You can go out and eat another night. We were still doing something together, so it wasn’t a big deal.”
But the wind wasn’t right, so the Grooms put off their first sit until the next day. Kevin had set up a ground blind and brushed it in heavily, planning to give the buck a week or so to get acclimated to the blind. But within a day, the trail cam pictures showed, the buck was comfortable.
On November 7, Kevin and Lindsay both got off work early to hunt. They settled into the blind by 2:45–and promptly got into a fight. “She wasn’t happy with the setup,” Kevin says with a laugh. “The area was so tight and I knew the buck would be coming in so close to the blind that it had to be brushed in good. She got mad because I put too many branches in front of the window.” “We had a nice little whisper argument about 30 minutes before the buck came in,” Lindsay says, “but we got it figured out. He had to break a few branches before we sat down.”
A half hour later, Lindsay spotted the buck entering their woods from a CRP field 30 yards away. “He came straight toward us really slowly and stopped at a licking branch 15 yards in front of us,” she recalls. “He played with that for what seemed like forever. Then he walked over to the bait pile, which is only about 9 yards from the blind.” Lindsay’s crossbow bolt deflected off limbs, hitting farther back than she wanted. After following the blood trail 30 yards to the edge of the CRP field, they decided to back out rather than risk bumping the deer in the tall grass.
“I was wide awake at 3:30 in the morning, and we got back out at sunrise, ready to hunt if we needed to. But we found him 30 yards beyond where we’d left the trail the night before. He only went about 60 yards total. “It was exciting and thrilling but also a big sense of relief, because it made me kind of sick that my shot wasn’t where I wanted it to be. The last thing I want to do is wound a deer. I was so happy everything worked out.”
Before long, Lindsay and Kevin were back in town, stopping to show off the buck to a friend–and a few Amish carpenters who took a break from building a pole barn to put their tape measure to good use on the rack.
Both Kevin and Lindsay say their hunts are about togetherness, not competition. “I can’t tell you how many times my friends have said to me, ‘You’ve got the best of both worlds: You can go hunting and the wife’s not nagging you because she’s going with you and you guys are having fun,'” Kevin says. “That will just carry over when we have kids. We’ll take them along and it will be a family thing.” Says Lindsay, “I really enjoy hunting, but I’m happy with just being together. I’m not trying to get a deer bigger than Corncob in our house. Kevin can have the bigger deer, and I can cook better than him.”
Lindsay Groom of Groveport, Ohio, tagged a 150-class 13-pointer with a crossbow the day after her second wedding anniversary, with her husband Kevin by her side. Read on to find out how this buck-of-a-lifetime became a late anniversary present for this hunting couple.