When in midlife the women among us reach for long guns, it's a further sign we here in flyover land are a different bunch. How frequently this occurs is unknown. That it happens at all is telltale of a state not yet as goofy as most others, a backhanded compliment, to be sure. But you get the point.

As evidence, consider Rosie Peterson, who was 55 when she first cased a Browning semi-auto chambered .270 and strolled out the door of her Shakopee home, looking for whitetails.

That was 15 years ago.

"I grew up on a farm in Eden Prairie, hunting ducks and pheasants and trapping muskrats, mink and beaver with my dad," Rosie said. "So I just decided to do it, the deer hunting."

Her husband, Dallas, was fine with it. As were their grown children, Sara Jo (40) and Rich (42), in part because the family had long owned a cabin up north on Girl Lake, where for years they had fashioned a life of walleye jigging, loon calls on summer nights and venison backstrap grilled rare.

The deer-hunting thing therefore came more or less naturally.

Besides, Rosie no longer wanted to watch her husband and kids drive away each November, leaving her behind.

"I just decided to do it," she said.

Yet Rosie had more gumption than good luck, and in the intervening decade and a half has hung nothing from the ol' meat pole.

Nonetheless, she has enjoyed her time in the woods.

"I love watching, and hearing, the ravens, crows and squirrels, and the wind moving through the woods," she said. "And of course you always think you hear a deer coming."

Rosie will concede that occasionally she has squeezed her rifle's trigger, to no avail. One season not long ago through her scope she eyeballed a big buck and knocked it off its feet with what she thought was a well-placed round. To her amazement, the animal soon thereafter arose and walked away, not to be seen again.

Still, and with no less enthusiasm than in past years, she was in the woods last Saturday morning.

"We were on our stands early," she said. "It was just Rich and I who were hunting this year, and his stand wasn't too far from mine."

Not long into the outing -- about 8 a.m. -- Rosie heard something approach from her left, crackling leaves and twigs as it did.

Soon coming into view was an 8-point buck, and as quickly as she could, Rosie shouldered her .270, found the animal's fore shoulder in her scope, and cracked the hammer.

The animal gave no indication a shot had even been fired, except that it quickened its pace slightly.

Hipper than her years might suggest, Rosie punched out a text to Rich, acknowledging the shot but regretting its apparent outcome.

Yet luck -- good and bad -- is nothing if not accretive, and soon a second deer appeared near Rosie, this one a doe, and a good one.

"She saw me because she looked up, right at me in my stand," Rosie said. "But I stayed still, and when she came a little closer, I took a shot. She went right down."

"When I heard the shot I was a little hesitant to go to her stand," Rich said. "But after she let me know a doe was down, and down for good, I headed toward her."

A physician and -- his mother notes proudly -- a graduate of Stanford as well as Harvard, Rich is not unfamiliar with problem-solving.

Yet it was Rosie, the one-time trapper and duck and pheasant chaser, who first saw blood drops trailing into the distance in the direction the buck had run.

This occurred in the same general area where Rich, as a kid, in the first hunt of his life, killed his biggest buck.

"We tracked the buck's trail for a while," Rosie said, "before coming upon a big pool of blood. That's when Rich walked ahead and found the buck lying dead."

Her shot had been exactly where she had aimed, in the boiler room.

"The buck's rack was OK," she said. "But its body was humongous. It's the biggest one we've ever gotten."

Happy enough to repay his mother for her many past favors, Rich dragged out the buck.

And the doe.

"I'm hooked on deer hunting forever now," Rosie said. "Not getting a deer for so many years, I was feeling a little bit sorry for myself.

"Now there's no doubt I'll hunt as long as I'm capable."

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com