Rack Magazine

For Mississippians, Pike Still Peaking

For Mississippians, Pike Still Peaking

By Jill J. Easton

If your heart’s set on steak, would you go to a fast-food drive-through?

Finding a good place to hunt trophy whitetails can be difficult. For Matt Moore and his dad, Jimmy, the search for the perfect property spanned years. They traveled to several states and tried many outfitters without much success.

But that was before they happened upon Shangri-La.

“Four seasons ago, we found Joe Cobb, who owns West Central Outfitters in Pike County, Ill.,” Matt said. “His were reasonably priced hunts, and he had a good success ratio, so we booked a hunt.”

The first year, Matt shot a 10-pointer with a composite score pushing 160 inches. For a Mississippi hunter without access to fertile Delta ground, it was an awesome experience. Before they left, he and his dad rebooked.

Not only did their outfitter have trophy deer, but the company also understands what makes hunters’ hearts tick.

“Around June the following year, we started seeing bucks-in-velvet photographs from trail cameras on their website,” Matt said. “One picture had two great bucks in it, a monstrous 10-pointer and a nice 14-pointer. The picture was taken from the same spot where I killed my 5x5!”

Matt couldn’t return to that same stand quickly enough.

“On opening morning 2011, I sat within a few dozen yards of where the two big boys had their pictures taken,” he said. “About 30 minutes after I got settled, a buck with lots of points stepped out 100 yards away.”

It also had great reflexes.

“The buck either saw or smelled me about the time I saw it,” Matt said. “When I eased my gun up, it launched itself across the cornfield. The buck was running, about 100 yards away, and broadside. I had a good prop on the ladder stand. When I squeezed the trigger, the buck fell and skidded.

For Mississippians, Pike Still Peaking“It was the 14-pointer from the trail cam photo,” Matt said. “But even at that amazing moment, I kept thinking about that other giant.”

Not only did Matt and his dad book again for the following (third) year, but a couple of Matt’s friends also signed up to accompany them.

“Joe called me not long after hunting season. He found the sheds of the super 10-pointer and had rough-scored it to gross around 180,” Matt said. “Lots of people found out about this buck and were booking hunts to try to get a shot at it.”

The Big 10, as the locals called it, showed up regularly at Matt’s stand.

“I called Joe at least once a week during the bow season to see if anyone had seen or killed Big 10,” Matt said. “The week before gun season, two hunters missed the buck near my stand.”

Matt was bouncing-off-the-walls excited to get to Illinois.

“The first two days of the 2012 hunt, I was going to wait and see if Big 10 would come out,” he said. “On the first day, I saw lots of does and an 8-pointer that probably scored 125.”

His dad missed a big 10-pointer that came out behind him and spooked when he turned to shoot.

Meanwhile, Matt’s buddies decided to hunt close to where the giant was photographed. They figured if there were enough hunters in the area, someone might get a shot at the super buck.

“I climbed up in my stand way before daylight on Nov. 30 and waited,” Matt said. “Just as the sun started coming up, I saw a big deer running right down the middle of a plowed up cornfield, coming straight at me. It got to within about 100 yards and stopped.

For Mississippians, Pike Still Peaking“I had already started easing my gun up to scope it when the deer turned its head to look back the way it came. As soon as I saw that big rack swivel, I knew it was Big 10.

“I put my scope on the buck’s chest and waited. Thirty seconds felt like 30 minutes,” he added. “It just wouldn’t move.”

That’s when Matt started shaking.

“I knew if I didn’t shoot, there wouldn’t be any chance of hitting that monster. So I put the crosshairs between its shoulders and squeezed the trigger.”

Hair flew, and so did the buck —seemingly unscathed.

“My second shot planted him in his tracks,” Matt said, “but I wasn’t taking any chances. I bolted in another round while it was on the ground, kicking, but I never had to shoot again.

“I was really shaking,” he added. “I stayed in the stand and finally calmed myself enough to get down and go look at him.

“When I picked up his rack, everyone in Pike County heard me holler,” Matt said. “I called Joe to tell him that I had killed his big buck. He thought I was joking. I had to send a picture on my phone to make him believe me.”

Once the evidence was proffered, Joe arrived within minutes to help ferry the deer back to camp.

Matt discovered later that he had a buddy to thank for sending him the super buck.

“Noah, one of my friends about 500 yards away, spooked him,” Matt said. “That was why the deer came running down the middle of the field, why he was looking back.”

Hunter: Matt Moore
BTR Score: 193 5/8

– Photos by Quickshot Photography

This article was published in the July 2014 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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