With a half-hour of daylight remaining on the first Sunday in October 2008, Missouri archer Jim Shatto was about to draw on a 150-class whitetail.
“As I readied my bow, the buck jerked up its head and stood perfectly still, staring into the bean field to its right,” Jim recalled. “I followed its gaze, and that’s when I spotted Big Boy.
“What a monster! There stood a beautiful specimen of a male deer: muscular, with large, wide and thick antlers,” he added. “My priorities did an immediate about-face, the nearer deer all but forgotten.”
With 400 yards between them, the two bucks stood perfectly still, sizing up each other. Then the smaller buck ventured into the bean field and treated Jim, who was watching through binoculars, to a show.
“The upstart moved into the bean field, lowered its head and locked antlers with Big Boy,” he said. “I estimated Big Boy to be about a 200-class animal. They were still going at it as darkness fell, and I could hear their antlers clashing as I quickly got out of the stand and left.”
Jim was immediately making plans. He had a dozen stands from which to choose, but he’d probably have to hang another to get a chance at Big Boy.
“The very next weekend found me setting up a new platform south of my first stand, which give me a different angle and wind choice,” he explained. “A hedgerow stretched out north and south from both stands, so I could walk in hidden by the hedge.
“Low hills rose to the east with a pond sitting near the top of the one directly in front of me. The bean field surrounded the pond on all but the western side, which was where I would be.”
For the rest of the bow season, Jim returned to the new stand and learned more about Big Boy.
“I discovered that he often bedded down across from that pond near the top of the rise,” he said. “It was like he knew there was no good way to sneak up on him while he stayed in that spot. He could see in all directions.”
Jim hoped the two stands would give him the option to stay downwind and catch the big buck coming or going from the area. When rifle season opened, he stayed out of there.
“Although I hunt on private land, there are always a number of rifle hunters on surrounding tracts, making the area a bit too crowded for my taste,” he explained. “I have plenty of good places to hunt with my rifle. I don’t worry about size then; I prefer to use my bow or blackpowder rifle for the larger bucks.”
Hearing a too-close-for-comfort gunshot during rifle season made him uneasy. Turns out, a friend had hit a “really big deer” and not recovered it. Jim fretted than Big Boy might wind up in a coyote’s gut.
When bow season resumed, however, so did the cat-and-mouse contest between Jim and Big Boy.
“By the first weekend in December, the start of the blackpowder season, I knew Big Boy ignored rattling and calls,” Jim said. “I knew he liked to bed down in the morning at his favorite spot by the pond.
“I had seen him enough times to know that he’d stay around, even if he did stay out of range,” he continued. “I saw him repeatedly in the same area. He obviously felt secure there.”
On Dec. 7, the last day of the 2008 muzzleloading season, Jim loaded his .54-caliber Hawken and checked the wind. It was blowing out of the east — perfect for the new stand he’d erected in October near the now-cut bean field.
Frost covered the ground as Jim slipped in along the hedgerow.
“Vision in the pre-dawn is tricky, but I spotted movement as a deer came right at me,” he said. “It was still so dark that I had to look to the side to see it. It was at 20 yards, but I couldn’t even get the animal in my sights.
“Then the buck walked away, and I could only hope it would stay in shooting range long enough for legal shooting light,” he added.
“It turned and walked south for a ways, and then turned back west at an opening through the hedgerow, taking its time and browsing.”
Waiting was tough, especially since Jim suspected he was looking at Big Boy.
It was indeed.
“As light dawned, there were too many branches in the way for a clean shot,” Jim said. “And by the time he turned north, he had ended up directly behind the big oak I was in — in range, but I couldn’t see around the huge tree.”
Jim quietly set the trigger and pulled back the hammer. The buck turned back south, retracing his steps through the hedgerow before stopping. Then the buck turned again and might have walked out of Jim’s life forever, save for a 6-pointer that caught his eye and made him stop.
“That time, he stood in an opening in the hedgerow, finally giving me a decent target,” Jim said. “I knew I had him as soon as I squeezed the trigger.
“The world was suddenly silent, and I didn’t hear a sound or see anything except Big Boy run about 60 yards before stopping and falling over dead,” he said.
Just to be on the safe side, Jim got out of the stand, reloaded, and then eased over and touched the deer to confirm the kill. That done, he tagged and dragged it into the weeds until he could return with an ATV and trailer.
“I wanted to tell the whole world,” Jim said. “I called my wife, Cindy, as I drove back and said, ‘You know that deer I’ve been telling you was so big? Well, I got him!’”
Jim also called his friend, Warren, and asked if he wanted to see a “170- or so-class” deer. Warren said he’d be right there.
Warren and Jim recovered and field-dressed the deer, and another friend, Todd, joined them on the trip to the taxidermist.
“Word started getting around as friends checked in to see how everyone’s hunt was going,” Jim said. “By the time we got back from the taxidermist, I had a sizeable party at my house.”
When everyone was gone, Jim sat and stared at the antlers.
“What am I going to do now?” he wondered, before realizing that Big Boy must have some little boys out there.
Hunter: Jim Shatto
BTR Official Score: 174 7/8
BTR Composite Score: 193 4/8
— Photos Courtesy of Jim Shatto This article was published in the October 2012 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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