Shelby's Big Day

Shelby's Big Day

It was late December last year when Chad Tate captured a trail camera photo of a true Mississippi megabuck. On the day he chose to hunt the huge whitetail, he unselfishly opted to let his 11-year-old son take the shot.

A proud young hunter! When this 21-point monster stepped out into a food plot to check out a doe decoy, Shelby Tate knew exactly what to do. Hidden in a ground blind with his dad, he made a perfect shot on the 207 6/8-inch giant with his Remington .270.

If world-famous comedian Jerry Clower of Liberty, Mississippi, were still alive today (Jerry died in 1998), he'd probably be very interested in a giant buck taken just outside of Liberty last season by an 11-year-old deer hunter. After all, many of the funny stories Jerry told over the years had to do with his hometown, which he fondly referred to as "Route 4, Liberty, Mississippi," and treeing 'coons was about all he and his running buddy, "New-Gene" Ledbetter, had to brag about in the old days.


In fact, I don't recall ever hearing Jerry mention deer hunting around Liberty in any of his famous tapes, and he'd probably be amazed at what has happened with whitetail hunting in the area in recent years. For instance, last December, Shelby Tate, a 5th grader who lives in Denham Springs, Louisiana, was hunting with his dad on the family's 40-acre tract near Liberty when a buck of outlandish proportions stepped behind the cross hairs of this young man's rifle.


Chad Tate tells the exciting story about his son's hunt, which took place a few days after Christmas in 2007.

"I had been hunting the property throughout the season with my fiancée, Erica Tate (by coincidence, same last name), and both of my sons, Shelby, 11, and Dillon, 15," Chad said. "We're fortunate because even though the land is only 40 acres, we're surrounded by property owners who have some of the same goals for managing deer that we have.


"We try to take as many does as we can while passing on young bucks. I know some hunting clubs have rules that protect small bucks, but we try to go beyond that. While some clubs might take bucks with 6 points and 12-inch spreads, we've made a point of trying to pass on all bucks under 4 1/2 years of age. That way, we think we have a better chance to grow quality, mature bucks. In 2007 we passed on some good deer in the 120 and 130 range."

Chad's 40 acres feature pine hills and several drainages that run through the property. Plenty of heavy cover and water makes the land attractive to deer. As a plus, the land is also very fertile.

A "WOW" BUCK ON CAMERA
Chad uses trail cameras to help him get a better idea of the size and number of deer on his land. One particular camera revealed the image of a huge multi-tined non-typical buck, one that young Shelby would eventually meet face to face.

"We had a camera out on a food plot in December, and we captured the image of this big buck on three occasions, the last being on Dec. 23," Chad said. "He was photographed as he came out of a thicket and into the food plot after dark. We were all shocked when we saw the image. I had no idea there was a buck like that living on our place."

Chad decided to stay away from this particular food plot unless the wind was just right.

"We set up a blind and hunted the food plot several times when conditions were perfect, but we never got a glimpse of him. Naturally we began wondering if this buck would ever show himself during daylight hours."

Not only is Erica a serious deer hunter, but she's also a student of deer behavior. At her insistence, a plan was formed to try to draw the buck out of the heavy thicket where she and Chad felt certain the big deer was bedding during daylight hours.

Chad Tate and his fiancée Erica share in the celebration as 11-year-old Shelby Tate shows off the massive Mississippi monster that he shot on Dec. 28, 2007.

A WINNING STRATEGY
"I realized that this buck was probably too woods-wise to ever show himself during the day without having an incentive to do so," Erica noted. "And since I watch a lot of outdoor TV, I was interested in one particular show where a buck was attracted to a doe decoy. I felt strongly that a decoy might work, so I purchased a Flambeau Redi-Doe. I also bought some doe-in-heat mixture marketed by Wildlife Research for us to use with the decoy."

Chad was highly in favor of using the decoy because he'd had good results decoying in the past.

"I've used yearling-buck decoys and I've seen dominant bucks respond to them, so I felt that Erica's plan might just work," Chad said.

On the afternoon of Dec. 28, the wind was just right for hunting the blind overlooking the food plot.

"We put the Redi-Doe decoy out in the food plot and sprinkled the doe-in-heat on it and got back in the blind," Chad related. "Since the blind was too crowded for all four of us, Dillon decided to hunt another stand about 150 yards away. From the direction the wind was blowing, we knew the breeze would carry the doe scent into the thicket, and we hoped the buck would become curious enough to get up and check it out."

A PROUD YOUNG HUNTER
Chad, Erica and Shelby settled into the ground blind at about 3 p.m. Two hours later it was show time.

"At around 5 p.m., out he stepped from the thicket, and we all gasped," Chad said. "I remember whispering, 'My Lord, look at that!' "

The buck made a beeline for the decoy and offered a perfect shot when he turned broadside at 30 yards.

"We had already planned to let Shelby take the shot if one was offered," Chad said. "He was shooting a .270 Remington Model 700 loaded with 150-grain Core-Lokt bullets."

Shelby, who was already a seasoned deer hunter with at least 10 deer to his credit, performed like a pro when the deer stepped out of the thicket.

"I just tried to do like my dad had taught me and not look at the rack," Shelby explained. "Instead I tried to concentrate on his shoulder. I put the cross hairs where they belonged and squeezed the trigger. After the shot, the deer stumbled and took off, but he only ran about 50 yards. He didn't even make it o

ut of the food plot."

It was celebration time as the three hunters gathered around the fallen monarch. The buck was rather thin from the rigors of the rut but still weighed 200 pounds. The massive rack contains 21 points with an inside spread of 17 2/8 inches. Basically the rack was scored as a main-frame 4x4 with a whopping 71 2/8 inches in non-typical growth. With heavy palmation, drop tines on both sides that add a lot of character, and great mass, the "wow" factor on Shelby's one-of-a-kind Mississippi monster is significant.

A TRUE MISSISSIPPI GIANT
After the 60-day drying period, Shelby's amazing whitetail grossed 218 5/8 non-typical inches and netted 207 6/8. This places the trophy within the top 15 all time for non-typicals taken in Mississippi.

Older brother Dillon was proud of his younger brother, but he couldn't help being a little disappointed that he didn't get a crack at the big buck.

"I was happy for Shelby, but to be honest, I wish I had gotten him," Dillon confessed truthfully.

However, because Shelby got to bag such an incredible whitetail, Chad (being the good dad that he is) later took Dillon on a hunt to the Teruma Ranch, a commercial hunting establishment located near Woodville, Mississippi. The ranch features exotics as well as whitetails. Dillon took a trophy sika deer on that hunt.

At the ripe young age of 11, young Shelby Tate has achieved a dream that very few deer hunters ever realize in life. The fact that he, his dad and his dad's fiancé were all hunting together on that memorable day makes it all the more special. I suspect that old Jerry Clower would be awfully proud!

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THE SHELBY TATE BUCK

Scorable points....21(8R,13L)
Tip-to-tip spread.... 13 2/8
Greatest spread..... 22 7/8
Inside Spread..... 17 2/8
Total length of abnormal points: 71 2/8
Areas MeasuredRightLeftDifference
<main Beam25 3/822 5/82 6/8
1st point (G-1)4 2/85 6/81 4/8
2nd point (G-2)5 4/85 0/8 4/8
3rd point (G-3)9 5/85 6/83 7/8
4th point (G-4) -- -- --
1st circ. (H-1)5 0/84 7/81/8
2nd circ. (H-2)4 4/84 7/8 3/8
3rd circ. (H-3)9 4/88 7/8 5/8
4th circ. (H-4)4 7/83 6/8 1 1/8

Totals

68 5/861 4/810 7/8
Gross typical score.........................147 3/8
Subtract side to side differences........... -10 7/8
Add abnormal points......................... +71 2/8
FINAL NET NON-TYPICAL SCORE..................207 6/8
Taken by: Shelby Tate
Date: Dec,28 2007
Location: Amite County, Mississippi

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