Local lady deer hunter bags the big one

By Staff
Dec. 7, 2001
Local deer hunter Diane Slay showed the boys how it's done late last Saturday afternoon. Slay harvested her biggest buck to date, a fine 8-point that sported a rocking chair rack with an 18-inch inside spread. Slay was hunting at a deer camp in Clarke county when she took advantage of her opportunity.
Slay hunts at the camp with her husband Bill and a few friends. Saturday afternoon she got on the stand at about 3:30 and waited patiently. Shortly before dark she heard the hunter on the next stand shoot. At that point she figured it was all over. Surely he would have scared anything else off with a shot that close by.
As Slay watched the sun set, she detected movement down an abandoned logging road. At first she didn't get excited as the deer crossed the trail. However, once the deer got to the middle of the logging road he hesitated and turned to look her way. She spotted antlers sticking up above and outside of the deer's ears.
As the buck turned and started walking away, she drew a fine bead and squeezed off a shot from her 25-06 rifle. The big trophy piled up in a heap at the sound of the gun's report. The customized bolt-action rifle made by Tony Hamilton dropped the deer at a distance of 170 yards, a long shot for sure in this part of the country.
Although she did show up the men on this day, all of them were pleased and excited that she had scored with the fine buck. Notably, in her younger years many camps didn't allow female hunters in camp, for whatever reason.
Hunting with dad
Although she didn't get to go deer hunting at the camp with her dad, Jerry McCleskey, in her youth, she did accompany him on many hunting trips. She would follow him around the woods pulling and shaking vines to flush out any unsuspecting squirrels. They developed a special relationship that can only be experienced by a father and daughter. And not too many daughters went to the hunting woods with their fathers in those days.
When Slay reached 9 years of age, McCleskey bought her first squirrel rifle from a man at Sciples Mill in Kemper County. The sharp little .22 was a fine rifle indeed for a young girl just beginning her outdoor career.
Slay has been hunting the wily white-tailed deer for over 20 years now. In fact she got her first deer at the age of 23. These days, she and her dad go on deer hunts together often.
After her marriage to Bill Slay, Diane started deer hunting with him. It's no accident that she has become an accomplished marksman and hunter in her own right. Like many Southerners, she grew up to become a crack shot after cutting her teeth on squirrel hunting.
Love of outdoors
The early hunts with her dad helped her to cultivate a special love of the outdoors. Although she still likes to hunt and harvest deer, especially big bucks, just being out in the woods is a thrill. In fact it provides her with an opportunity to get away from the phones and the stresses of everyday life.
Although Slay likes to listen to the birds and see the sights and sounds of nature, she also like to get the big one every once in a while. Since that first kill more than 20 years ago, she still loves the thrill of the chase and the satisfaction of bagging the trophy buck and putting meat on the table. And by the looks of it, she isn't through harvesting deer yet!

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