Lora Bell Santa Cruz developed a love for hunting as a child growing up in South Mississippi. The thrill for stalking wild animals quickly turned into a passion when she started hunting at a young age as a means to help feed a large family of 13.
Fast forward to the 2013-14 deer season, Santa Cruz harvested a buck on November 30 while hunting private land near Bolton. Instead of a using a traditional rifle to make a longer shot, Santa Cruz made the harvest the old fashion way, with a 12-gauge shot-gun.
To make the harvest more impressive, the grandmother of 13 grand children, 19 great-grand children and five great-great-grand children is almost 93-years-old.
''I've hunted all over the state of Mississippi and some areas of Alabama,'' Santa Cruz said.
''But I prefer to stay close to home these days. I love hunting squirrels and turkey, but my passion is deer hunting. I even process my own deer. I had 12 siblings growing up and started hunting at an early age to provide food for the family and from that point, it became a passion.''
Her love for hunting, even at her current age, hasn't gone unnoticed by family members that consist of two of the oldest families in South Mississippi in the Santa Cruzes and Pouloses.
In fact, Kelly Poulos said her grandmother grew up hunting with a 12-gauge shot-gun which is heavier and often more difficult to fire than most rifles. With than in mind, the family had her original shot-gun refurbished. The same gun was used in her recent conquest of one of the most difficult wild animals to harvest in Mississippi.
''Anything she kills is with that shotgun,'' Poulos said.
''Years and years ago, for my grandparent's anniversary, we had both my grandma and grandpa shot-guns renovated for their gift. She is an amazing woman and still loves hunting as much today as ever.''
Santa Cruz, who now lives in Saucier, will turn 93 on March 11, 2014. Her hunting career has produced too many harvests for her to recall an actual number.
She does admit that her recent eight-point buck ranks as one of the largest, if not the largest after dropping the deer in its tracks with a shot that was less than 50 yards. Such an accurate shot with a shotgun is a sign of an experienced hunter.
Santa Cruz wasn't finished after the hunt.
Remarkably, she took photos with the deer and immediately cleaned the animal by herself to make deer jerky for the family. The antlers were then taken to a local taxidermist so Santa Cruz can relive her harvest for years to come.
To her, it was just another day in the woods.
"If I'm going in the woods, something's gonna die," Santa Cruz said.
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