March 22, 2023
Garrett Spoede spent 12 years trying to draw a tag for a managed hunt on a prized deer hunting property; and in 2022, he got it. Of course, his story didn’t start there. “Deer hunting is my passion,” Garrett says. “I’ve been fortunate to knock down a few good bucks over the years. My grandpa and dad played a huge role in that.”
Throughout time, he grew as a hunter and developed into the outdoorsman he is today. His success as a hunter is even more impressive given the adversity he’s faced. “When I was 11, my body took on an infection,” Garrett says. “I went into septic shock and almost didn’t make it. I was given high dosages of steroids to kill off whatever was killing me. The medicine won and I survived. But I didn’t survive without problems. The medicine gave me severe neuropathy (nerve loss) and myopathy (muscle loss). I’m 32 now, and in the last five years, I’ve had four toes on my right foot and three toes on my left foot amputated due to the nerve damage I have in my legs. I’ve also had my right thumb and finger removed for the same reasons.
“I say that to say this — Missouri offers managed handicap hunts throughout the state that you can enter a draw for,” he continues. “This hunt is at a well-known refuge in northwestern Missouri. They offer a 2 1/2-day rifle hunt for one any-deer tag. Only 10 people get drawn for this hunt. I have put in for this hunt for 12 years in a row. I finally drew the tag.”
When he got the opportunity to hunt this great tract of land, he knew it was time to capitalize. Interestingly, there wasn’t much scouting involved, though. It was a draw hunt, and he was placed in a blind, and had to stay in that location for the hunt. His job was just to get in there as early as allowed and sit all day. Eventually, it worked out.
“I’ve never stepped foot on the property I killed him on,” Garrett says. “I’ve always heard of big deer living in that area, so that’s why I always entered for that specific hunt. Rumors of giants living there got me excited.”
The draw hunt started on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. He was required to have someone with him, so his neighbor attended the hunt as a guest. It was a long drive to the property, so they were up bright and early to arrive on time. After attending a hunt meeting at 10 a.m., it was time to begin. Each hunter went to their assigned blind. Garrett’s was on the southern end of the property.
After settling in, they saw nine different bucks, including three that were 125-135 inches. They also saw five does and five gobblers. Later that afternoon, he spotted a huge buck with a doe in the distance, but it never offered a shot opportunity. He hoped for better action the following morning, and a storm rolled in as they departed.
The next day, Nov. 5, started off with messy conditions. A cold front and 2 inches of rain pushed through the previous night, which was good. Dropping temperatures were ideal, too. But come daylight, it was cold and still misting rain, making for tough conditions to push through. Still, he was pumped for the hunt.
“The area is a huge waterfowl refuge,” Garrett says. “It’s 60-70 percent flooded crop fields and ditches. A few big timber stands and a lot of levees. It’s kind of like a big duck lake. I drew a blind and the blind was placed at an intersection of a north-south levee and east-west levee. Every direction I looked was down a long levee with ditches at the bottom with water and thick woods.”
Around 8:00 a.m., a doe walked into view. Three minutes later, it happened. The big deer appeared 22 yards away. “Don’t move — huge shooter on the levee,” Garrett’s friend told him. “When I first saw the deer, he was staring at us in the blind,” Garrett says. “All I could see was his drops on his right beam and that super-dark chocolate rack. I about fell out of my chair when I saw him. The biggest whitetail I’ve ever seen on the hoof.”
Thinking the deer was about to bolt, Garrett quickly raised his gun, poked it through the window, settled the crosshairs and took the shot. The buck dropped in its tracks. He and his friend looked at each other in disbelief, and then they started celebrating. The buck died right on top of a levee, and the recovery was much easier because of it.
“I’m extremely blessed to have harvested such a mature, majestic whitetail,” Garrett says. “It took 12 years to draw this tag, and every year was totally worth the wait. He’s a giant. I never thought I’d see a deer like that, much less harvest one.”
The buck was aged at 7 1/2 years old. It sports 15 scoreable points and scores 184 inches. The memory means way more than the inches, though.
“Deer hunting means the world to me,” Garrett says. “I’m disabled and can’t get around like I used to due to a few amputations. So, being in God’s country hunting deer just brings a peace over me. It makes me feel normal. I wouldn’t trade deer or friends for the world.”