FAIRMOUNT CITY – While last month might have marked a first-time hunting trip for a Fairmount City girl, the gun she used to bag her first deer was an old professional.
Using a gun that belonged to her great-great-grandmother, the late Martha Shepler, 7-year-old Avia Powell bagged her first doe in the Fairmount City area while out hunting with her grandfather, Tom Minich, for one of the first times this past October.
“It means the world to me that she used that gun, and that I was able to share that experience with her,” Minich said of seeing his granddaughter hunt with his grandmother’s gun.
Although Powell — who is the daughter of Erica Kennedy — and Shepler were never able to meet, Minich explained that the two have always had a very special connection.
“Avia and my grandmother share the same birthday 100 years apart on May 14,” he noted. “That’s priceless.”
The only girl in her immediate family, Minich said Shepler was an “avid hunter,” who would go out with her large brood of brothers every year.
“She hunted everything, including small game and deer,” Minich said, adding that he accompanied his grandmother on several small game hunts as a small child.
Shepler’s Remington Model 721 .222 caliber rifle was passed down through the family over the years, and eventually made its way to Minich. When it was time to choose a first-time rifle for Powell, Minich said the gun seemed to be the perfect fit.
“She needed a smaller gun, and there is no kick or recoil with this rifle,” he explained, noting that Powell will continue to use the gun until she gets old enough for something bigger. “It will probably even be passed down to her someday.”
A hunter all his life, Minich said he is excited to finally have grandchildren to share the same experiences he had with his own grandmother. And if her first experience indicates what the future may hold, Minich believes that his grandmother’s love for hunting will continue to live on with his granddaughter.
“She definitely has the hunting bug,” Minich said of Powell, who is his first grandchild old enough to hunt. He continued that she was excited for the start of buck season and already has plans to hunt turkey in the spring. “I hope her love for hunting continues.”