Last Shot, Last Chance
September 22, 2010
Last season, when veteran whitetail hunter Mark Wakefield was given an opportunity to make a fairly easy shot on an Illinois megabuck, his shotgun misfired. Mark had only a second to correct the situation.
Imagine it's the second day of the first Illinois firearms season in 2007. Imagine you have set up before daylight in a ground blind. An hour after daylight, you hear shots from the neighboring property. You turn your head and see the largest buck you have ever seen coming directly toward you. You lift your shotgun and prepare for a shot.
After hearing a volley of shots on his neighbor's property on the second day of Illinois' first firearms season last year, Mark Wakefield looked over and saw this outlandish wall of tines coming through the brush. That's when the trouble started!
At this point, what is the worst possible sound you could hear? No, it's not your cell phone ringing because you forgot to turn it off. And it's not some hunter on a 4-wheeler ruining your hunt. It's not even the neighbor's dog barking and scaring off your buck. It's the most sickening sound you could possibly hear on a quiet morning.'‚.'‚.'‚. As you squeeze the trigger of your shotgun, you hear a gut-wrenching click. Then you hear it again!
That was the sound Mark Wakefield heard as the buck of a lifetime stood only 50 yards away. Mark is a seasoned hunter. Prior to the 2007 season, he had bowhunted and gun hunted deer for over 20 years. He had taken four P&Y bucks and six bucks with a gun that scored between 130 and 150 inches. He also had taken one buck with a gun that netted B&C -- something very few deer hunters manage to do.
So when Mark entered the woods on that fateful Saturday, Nov. 17, he was guided by considerable experience. Not only did he pick a choice hunting location, but he also had in his hands one of the best shotguns money can buy.
A FAST-PACED MORNING
During shotgun season in Illinois, the amount of shooting from adjacent properties frequently gets deer moving. Mark had seen some does right after daylight. Then, around 8 a.m., he heard a volley of shots approximately a quarter of a mile away on the neighboring property. If you're like most hunters, the first thing you do when you hear shots that close is have your shotgun up and ready, just in case your neighbor missed.
"I always go with the theory that if I hear one shot, the deer is probably dead. If I hear two shots, the deer might be dead. And if I hear three shots, somebody missed!" Mark said.
As mentioned, after Mark heard the shots, he turned his head to look in the general direction of the sound. He was greeted with the sight of a giant buck moving through the brush, angling toward him. Although the buck had not seen him, the huge whitetail ran into his scent stream at about 50 yards out. That stopped him dead in his tracks in the thick brush. Mark tried desperately to find a hole to shoot through.
The buck was getting very nervous. Suddenly he turned and burst out of the cover. Mark's shotgun did fire the first time he pulled the trigger, but that shot hit some brush, causing the buck to stop in a small opening. It was then that Mark lined up his scope and put the cross hairs on the buck's front shoulder: click! The gun did not fire! Mark quickly worked the receiver. That caused the buck to start moving again. Mark fired a second shot and again hit brush.
The buck seemed to be having a hard time figuring out where the shots were coming from. The huge whitetail again stopped in an opening about 50 yards away. With his gun up and his scope on the buck's shoulder, Mark squeezed the trigger for the fourth time, and again: click! Mark frantically worked the receiver and put the gun to his shoulder.
At this point, Mark didn't even know if he still had another slug in the gun (in Illinois, shotguns are restricted to holding no more than three slugs during the shotgun deer season). As he instinctively got the scope on the deer one more time, he could see only the back two-thirds of the deer's body. He pulled the trigger, and the gun fired. The buck dropped in his tracks.
A HEART-STOPPING SIGHT
Mark took a few seconds to try to calm down. He reloaded his gun and moved toward the deer, ready for another shot if necessary. However, the giant whitetail was down for good. After reaching the buck's side, Mark used his cell phone to call his hunting partner, Roger Walk. Roger and his son Christopher were hunting a quarter of a mile away. They immediately came over to help get the deer out of the woods.
In all of the excitement, Mark had never gotten a good look at the buck's rack. Now, as he stood and stared down at this magnificent animal, he was amazed at the size of the deer's antlers. Having already taken one B&C buck in the past, Mark knew what a big buck looked like. However, he was in no way prepared for the sight in front of him. The huge buck carried a giant typical 6x7 frame with a single 2-inch sticker on the right side, 14 points in all.
Mark's buck was built to score well as a typical. With four tines over 12 inches in length, the huge rack later tallied a gross typical score of 201'‚2/8 (including the 2-inch sticker). After 10'‚3/8 inches in deductions are subtracted, the great Illinois buck nets 188'‚7/8 typical B&C points. Mark's buck was later recognized as the largest typical shotgun kill of the 2007 season at the Illinois Deer Classic in Bloomington, Illinois.
TWO FOR THE BOOK
Mark's 2007 achievement put him in an elite group of hunters who have killed two net B&C bucks during their hunting careers. As for the unexplained misfiring of Mark's shotgun, he later used that same gun for duck hunting and never had another problem with it. To this day, he is not sure what happened or why the gun misfired at the exact moment the big buck was standing in front of him. He is sure of one thing, though: He hopes he never hears that sickening sound of click again!
|THE MARK WAKEFIELD BUCK|
|Scorable Points:||14 (8R, 6L)||TOTAL LENGTH OF ABNORMAL POINTS: 2 0/8|
|Tip-To-Tip Spread:||16 6/8|
|Greatest Spread:||26 0/8|
|Inside Spread:||22 7|
|Main Beam||25 3/8||27 2/8||1 7/8|
|1st Point (G-1)||5 3/8||5 6/8||3/8|
|2nd Point (G-2)||12 0/8||12 2/8||2/8|
|3rd Point (G-3)||12 3/8||12 5/8||2/8|
|4th Point (G-4)||9 1/8||10 6/8||7/8|
|5th Point (G-5)||1 4/8||1 4/8||--|
|6th Point (G-6)||4 4/8||--||4 4/8|
|1st circ. (H-1)||4 7/8||4 6/8||1/8|
|2nd circ. (H-2)||4 4/8||4 4/8||--|
|3rd circ. (H-3)||4 4/8||4 4/8||--|
|4th circ. (H-4)||4 4/8||4 5/8||1/8|
|TOTALS:||88 5/8||87 6/8||10 3/8|
|Gross Typical Score:||199 2/8|
|Subtract side-to-side differences:||-10 3/8|
|Subtract abnormal points||-2 0/8|
|FINAL NET TYPICAL SCORE:||188 7/8|
|TAKEN BY: Mark Wakefield, DATE: November 17, 2007, LOCATION: East-Central Illinois |