Courtney White’s small, 47-pound frame sat proudly outside Powderhorn Taxidermy as she focused through the scope of a crossbow. She set her sights on a target just 20 yards away - and hit the bullseye.
Courtney has spent months practicing for her first season to deer hunt, something she thought she might never get to do.
Courtney, 9, is living with a rare form of Brittle Bone disease. She’s already broken almost 50 bones over the course of her life.
Because of her condition, she wasn’t sure if she’d be able hunt because the recoil of a gun would likely break her shoulder. But it turns out she can shoot a crossbow with no issue.
She’s hunted hard this season with her family near their home in Terlton but hadn’t had any luck. Then taxidermist Jerad Langley and ranch owner George Lippe heard her story and wanted to help make her dream come true.
On Friday afternoon, Courtney, her dad, sister and News On 6’s Tess Maune loaded into Langley’s old blue Suburban and headed toward Lippe’s ranch in Northeastern Oklahoma. On the ride there, Courtney went over the different places on a deer she’d need to aim to make an ethical shot.
She was ready.
Out on the ranch, with an unsteady walk, Courtney headed for the deer blind, with Langley scooping her up to carry her the most of the way.
A cushion and a sweatshirt helped prop up Courtney high enough to see out the blind’s opening, then the wait began.
Within 20 minutes of getting settled, Courtney spotted deer in the food plot, but out of range. That would be the case for about two hours, until a little after 5 p.m. when an 8-point buck came running straight toward the stand.
The deer stopped broadside and Courtney dialed in, patiently focused on the shoulder. She took a perfect shot and watched the buck drop about 60 yards out.
“My heart is beating faster than a mouse - a mouse's heart beats really fast,” said Courtney. “I'm just so psyched out. I can't believe I just shot a deer. My whole life we were just thinking I'm never gonna be able to shoot anything; I'm never gonna be able to have that experience. Here I am, and he's right here in front of me."
While her bones may be weak, Courtney is strong in her mind, heart and faith.
“This kind of gives everybody a lesson, just because you think you can’t do something, you can,” she said.
It took two hunts on the ranch to make it happen for Courtney. Her 13-year-old sister, Grace, is also a hunter and got the opportunity to harvest a beautiful buck during the first hunt on Lippe’s ranch.
“I had begun to pray that God would open up an opportunity for her to successfully harvest a deer, because I was not providing that opportunity on my own,” said Justin, Courtney’s dad.
“Just a couple days later, Tess calls and asks if the girls would be interested in a doe hunt. We were thrilled, and it just kept getting better from there. I'm so proud of both of my girls, and so thankful for all of the great people who have invested in them.”