It was late September when I received an email from my buddy Mike that was titled “deer pics.” I hoped that we would have some nice bucks on camera, and as I read the short message that contained the words “Code Name: BIGSHOW,” I knew that this was no ordinary email.
I opened the attachments and to my surprise, I discovered one of the biggest bucks that I had ever seen. Immediately I thought, How am I going to get close to this deer during shooting hours?
All of the trail cam pictures that we had were between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. I would typically hunt every weekend, but my priorities were my 10-month-old daughter and my wife, who was seven months pregnant at the time. I knew my time in the woods would be limited, but perhaps the lack of pressure would turn out to be an advantage in tagging this monster buck.
I made it out to the woods in early October for a morning hunt. After the morning hunt, I hung a stand in a spot I had hunted in previous years. The location is in a flat bottom with a creek running along the north and east sides and a steep, brushy hillside on the west, making it a very secluded area. I thought this would be the best place to catch the buck during daylight hours. I hunted the newly hung stand in the middle of October for a morning hunt but didn’t see anything. This was my last time in the stand until November.
On November 10, I arrived at our lease around 12:15 p.m. The weather was calling for highs in the upper 40s with a northwest wind at 10-15 mph. I got dressed in my Scent-Lok Savanna and sprayed down my clothes, bow and decoy. I had my video camera and camera arm in the truck, but I but couldn’t carry anything else in with me, so with regret I left it in the vehicle. I arrived at my stand location about 12:45 p.m. and started looking for the perfect spot to set up my decoy. I set the decoy up out in front of me, slightly to my right and upwind, with its head pointing to my left. I sprayed the decoy down again and climbed into my stand.
The afternoon started off slowly. I didn’t see anything for the first two hours, but around 3 p.m. I noticed movement up the hill to my left. I saw a doe running, and I knew that a buck was likely chasing her. I caught just a glimpse of antlers through the thick brush but couldn’t tell how big the buck was. I blew on my grunt call but got no response, so I thought I would rattle since I had my decoy set up. I hit the horns together and the woods erupted. There must have been 15 deer up in the brush on the hillside, and they took off in the other direction. I just blew this hunt, I thought.
About an hour later, I heard a grunt from up on the hill, so I decided I would respond with my own grunt. The buck responded to my grunt a couple of times and then he shut up. I never caught a glimpse of him.
For the next 45 minutes, the woods were quiet. I had been seeing quite a few deer but they were holding up on the hill to my left and thick brush stood between us. I knew from hunting this location in previous years that as evening approached, deer would move down off the hill into the small, secluded bottom where my stand is located.
I heard a noise behind me, and I slowly turned my head and spotted a raccoon walking through the woods. I turned back around and immediately saw a buck was walking down the hill about 90 yards away. The buck was coming in to my stand location from the northwest and began working his way through the tall, mature trees at an angle toward the southeast. I knew that this buck was definitely a shooter based on his tine length.
I reached over with my left hand and grabbed my bow off the rest, never taking my eyes off of him but also making sure that I was concentrating on his body movements and not his rack. He worked his way toward the decoy, stopping about 20 yards from it, holding his head up high, smelling the air and pawing at the ground. After about 30 seconds he put his head down. His ears were pinned back and he started circling behind the decoy’s position. That’s when I drew back for the first time. I have never been so nervous in my life; I was literally shaking when I started to draw back on him.
I drew my bow back and settled the pin on him, waiting for a clear shot. He took three steps and stopped again, still facing me. I held as strong and still as possible while he again smelled the air and pawed at the ground. At this point he was 15 yards from the rear of the decoy and he was taking his sweet time about things.
The buck stood there tasting the air, sizing up the competition. He was in plain view, nothing stopping a clear shot between him and I. The problem was he was still facing me at a bad angle with no opportunity of a humane shot. It had been minutes since I drew back my bow. My arms were shaking horribly and I couldn’t hold my draw any longer. I had to let down.
The buck then started circling behind the decoy again with his ears still pinned back and the hair on his back standing up. As I mentioned earlier, I had positioned the decoy with his head pointing to the west. “Bigshow” was moving fast and seemed like he had something to prove. I drew back again and settled my pin on him, waiting for a clear shot. He was standing about 5 yards directly behind the decoy and I was hoping that he would stop before he demolished it. He did, but unfortunately he was directly behind a group of trees. He was only 18 yards away now, but I didn’t have a shot at his vitals. I had to wait, and I hoped that he would take two more steps so I had a clear shot.
The waiting game was on now, but he didn’t seem comfortable standing behind the decoy. Curious about who was invading his territory, he stood there tasting the air with his head held high, pawing at the ground trying to get the decoy’s attention. While he was taking his time evaluating the situation, I was praying that he would just take two more steps forward so I could release an arrow into his vitals.
All of a sudden, he decided to spin around and take two steps back the way he came, turning to look back toward the decoy. There were about five limbs covering the deer’s vitals. I wanted to take the shot badly but there was no room for a clear, ethical shot between the limbs. At this point I had been holding my bow at full draw for several minutes. Again I had to let down.
It took about 30 seconds for “Bigshow” to move again, and when he did it took everything I had to draw back for the third time. He took about four steps away from the decoy and then he turned back to face the decoy for a final look.
As he stood there, quartering away at 25 yards, I settled my pin on him and let the arrow fly. I made sure not to move until the arrow hit the intended mark. “Bigshow” didn’t take a step until the arrow was already through him. He ran about 50 yards to the north before stopping next to a brush pile. He turned to look back toward the decoy and disappeared behind the brush pile. There was a loud crash and I didn’t know if it was him going down or him jumping the creek to make his getaway. It had been 15 minutes between the first time I saw him walking down the hill and what appeared to be the best shot of my life.
Once he disappeared, I sat down and hung my bow up. I reached for my binoculars and started looking for the arrow. I found the black and camo arrow, but I couldn’t tell if it had good blood on it or not. It had been about five minutes since I made the shot, and I decided since darkness was setting in I would sneak down quietly and take a look at my arrow.
I climbed down and found my arrow covered in blood. Since the ground was wet and I could move quietly, I decided to walk up to the brush pile to see if he was lying behind it. As I approached the brush pile, I didn’t see any blood and I was starting to get nervous. I looked back to the treestand and realized that I was not on the same trail that the buck had taken. I then took two steps to my right and spotted pools of blood covering the trail.
I followed the blood trail around the brush pile and immediately spotted Bigshow. I walked up to him and couldn’t believe how big his rack was. He had split G2s on both sides and an extra main beam on his right side. I immediately called Michael, a friend of mine who was hunting on part of our lease across the road. He was still in the stand and didn’t answer the first time I called, so I called him again and proceeded to tell him that I shot “Bigshow!” I let him know that I had already found him and that I would meet him at the truck.
As I headed for the truck, I called my friend, Nick, to tell him the great news, since he wasn’t coming up until the following day. I couldn’t describe how big he was on the phone and told him that he had to come up early the following day to see “Bigshow” for himself. Once I made it back to the truck and got my hunting clothes off, Michael and I grabbed the four-wheeler and headed to get my buck. Once we got “Bigshow” back to camp, I green scored him at 213 7/8 inches net non-typical. The following morning we took some field photos of my buck, and the rest of the morning neighbors were stopping by to see the awesome animal I was lucky enough to harvest.
After the 60-day drying period, Pope and Young scorer Rick Bergloff came to my house to officially measure “Bigshow.” Rick came up with 23 scorable points netting 217 5/8 inches, which ranks 6th all-time in Missouri. I love being able to go out and pursue my passion of bowhunting, while sharing it with my wife, daughter and friends. I now sit back and think to myself what an unbelievable animal and hunt that was. Seeing an animal of this magnitude in his element was an experience I will never forget!
- Knowing I couldn’t even come to my knees without breaking the little concealment we had, I decided to lie on my left side, using my left elbow for as solid a rest as could be achieved within the slight incline of the old fencerow. But when I shouldered the rifle, the sight of the crosshairs oriented at a 10-4 o’clock angle was definitely a different look from the normal 12-6 position we all practice from. Even so, I didn’t figure that would matter if I aimed at the right spot and squeezed off a clean shot. I settled the crosshairs where I needed to place the bullet and steadied the rifle. Whispering “fire in the hole” while floating the crosshairs on the spot, I gently squeezed the trigger until the recoil removed the buck from my view. Read the full story.