Boone and Crockett Girls Who Hunt: Ryleigh Campbell, Whitetail Hunter

The Boone and Crockett Club (B&C Club) recognized 16-year-old Ryleigh Campbell from Kentucky for her whitetail that she took three years ago with a crossbow. Ryleigh is another youth hunter that attended the Jack Steele Parker “Generation Next” banquet last month in Springfield, Missouri. She tagged a typical whitetail deer that measured 184 gross, 161 net points in Warren County, Kentucky, accompanied by her dad.

Ryleigh Campbell

Ryleigh and Paul Campbell
Ryleigh Campbell and her dad, Paul, who hunts with her. Her deer is above her and to the right in the photo, with the velvet hanging from his antlers.

How did the hunt happen?

We weren’t there for that deer. It was 100 degrees in September. The field was covered with a bunch of does. We had this eight-point buck come out and he was a regular. We had watched him and passed on him to let him get bigger. I said, “Oh, Dad! There’s a shooter!” Dad said, “No, no, that’s the eight-point.” I said, “No, no, no! This one was behind the eight-pointer.” I’m sure it was a father-son deer type deal because they looked identical. We let him work until about 20 yards from the Whitetail Clover food plot. I was at the wrong angle, angled for the other deer that was supposed to come from the other side. … He came in straight up and we’ve got two windows in the blind and in the middle of the windows, right where he was standing, I could not see his head, but I could see his body and I knew that was him. I went ahead and took a shot at him. It looked to be a liver shot, but it didn’t kill him instantly. 

We went back at the break of day to look for the deer. We brought my dog, because we thought he might help a little. There was no blood, and my dog wasn’t able to pick up a scent that was helpful. At this point, I was doubtful that it must not have been a good shot. So I headed back to the truck and ate some breakfast. Then we went back out for one final look, and we decided to sweep the river bank … we brought my dad’s friend who said, “Before we leave, we need to check these crows.” The crows were in this one little area just crowing their heads off. We went over there, and he was lying in the cane, about six feet in. He had bled internally for about 160 yards, and then he broke the bolt off on a tree. 

We got him scored by a taxidermist. I didn’t really know much about B&C Club stuff. I didn’t really know what it meant. My dad explained it to me, and I thought I’d done something really important and cool.

How does it rank in your state of Kentucky?

I think in 2019, it was the second largest harvest for youth hunters in Kentucky, and 11th overall for Kentucky. 

Ryleigh Campbell with deer above head
Ryleigh Campbell with her deer above her head.

I heard you like to play basketball. What else do you like to do when you’re not hunting?

Yes, I do play a lot of basketball.  When I have free time, I try to hang out with my friends. Sometimes we’ll go play volleyball or go to the movies. I just try to catch up with them when I’m not hunting and playing basketball.

I heard you love turkey hunting, too.

I’m working on a slam. I’ve only got two so far. I think we’re going to try to go to Kansas to get a Merriam’s. 

Do a lot of girls hunt around where you are?

Not really. Some people make comments about it, like “You’re hurting them.” I tell them, you gotta realize, you’re eating chicken right here at lunch. Hunting is more about conservation than most people realize. 

Have you been hunting for a long time?

Ryleigh Campbell with B&C whitetail KY
Here’s Ryleigh in the field with that monster buck.

Yes, I killed my first buck when I was in the fourth grade with a rifle. It was a nice 10-point buck. The buck I harvested in 2019 was my second one. I kinda lost interest because I had been turkey hunting for four years without getting a turkey … I thought, “OK, it’s not fun anymore.” But last year, between basketball and being able to have a normal school, I probably went hunting six times. But this year, I’m going to have to make time to go.

What is it about hunting that you like?

I like the process of it, you get to watch them on camera when they’re in velvet. I like that nervous/anxious feeling before you take a shot. It’s good to learn to handle the pressure.

Read about Morgan Burns, bear hunter here.

  • About Barbara Baird

    Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. Her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at