The first sighting of the buck that would come to be known as “Sneaky Pete” occurred during the 2008 hunting season, while Mark and Lacy Shomaker were scouting a piece of land they intended to lease the following year.
While looking around, the landowner spotted a huge buck standing beside a main road in a CRP field. He rushed Lacy and Mark over to where he had seen the buck, and, sure enough, a giant whitetail was standing with a younger buck in the tall grass. The two deer quickly disappeared.
Suspecting the bucks were hiding, Lacy and Mark drove up and down the road several times, trying to locate the spot where the deer were bedded. Suddenly, they spotted the big buck sneaking off, almost crawling, only 20 yards off the roadway.
“That’s why we decided to call him Sneaky Pete,” Lacy said. “The only thing my husband and I could think about for the rest of the year was if that buck would still be on this property when the ’09 archery season opened.
“On Sept. 21, Mark and I went out and started hanging our stands and setting out trail cameras around the 200-acre property,” she said. “We returned in early October to get our hunting licenses and tags. At the time, we were nonresidents living in Missouri. (They’ve since moved to Manhattan, Kan.)
“After reviewing our trail photos, we discovered pictures of Sneaky Pete. There were a dozen great shots, which fueled our excitement. We couldn’t wait to get out and hunt the property.”
Taking every opportunity they could to hunt, Lacy and Mark passed up a bunch of nice bucks. They also continued to see trail cam pictures of Pete and even saw him in the flesh several times while walking back from their stands at dusk.
On one occasion, Lacy recalled sitting in her stand and witnessing a buck with a huge set of antlers at 60 yards, ravaging a sapling.
“There was no doubt it was Pete; there was no mistaking those antlers. He continued to rub several trees, staying at least 60 yards out the whole time. I tried to grunt him in, but he didn’t respond.”
As the rut grew closer, Lacy and Mark saw Pete more frequently roaming around during daylight hours. By early November, rutting activity had picked up considerably, but Sneaky Pete had still managed to stay out of bow range.
Lacy’s first close encounter came on the morning of Nov. 7.
“I was sitting in my stand about 8 a.m. when I saw a buck with a large set of antlers emerge from the woods across a field about 100 yards away,” Lacy said. “It was Pete! He crossed the field, heading away from me, but then suddenly got interested in a doe, and she led him straight to me.
“The doe was walking at a fast pace and, at times, trotting in order to stay just out of Pete’s reach. Before I knew what was happening, she came down the hill behind my treestand almost directly underneath me.
“It happened so fast that by the time Pete passed under the tree, I was still sitting. I came to full draw, but being seated, I couldn’t get the angle right, and my bow was hitting the seat. Just when I decided to stand up, a neighbor started his tractor and spooked both deer. I was overwhelmed with frustration. I knew I’d missed the opportunity of a lifetime.”
The next day, Mark found himself sitting in the same stand. Unbelievably, Pete suddenly stepped into the open at what Mark judged to be about 40 yards. Unfortunately, Pete was only 30 yards out when Mark released the arrow that sailed harmlessly over his back.
Feeling that she had put too much pressure on that part of the property, Lacy decided to try her chances in a treestand on the back side of the lease. The couple suspected Pete had been bedding over there, and they had intentionally left it undisturbed to that point.
That afternoon, Lacy saw him out in a field, cruising for does. He did not linger for long, and he never got within bow range.
On the morning of Nov. 9, Lacy climbed into the same stand again. Just before 7 a.m., Pete suddenly stepped out of the woods in all of his glory. With his head down, he chased off two fawns that were feeding with some does, and then he turned to one of the does and started chasing her around the field.
The two deer ran into the woods. The doe eventually came back out into the field alone. Lacy could see Pete back in the woods. He began to sniff the ground and follow an apparent scent trail that led him within 15 yards of her stand.
Lacy picked an open spot in a small clearing and waited. When the huge whitetail got within 20 yards, she drew, trying to maintain her cool with the excitement building and her blood racing. Pete finally stepped out in front at 15 yards.
Moments after the double-lung shot, Lacy heard the buck go to ground, and she sent a text message to her husband.
She and Mark met back at the landowner’s house and waited an hour before heading back with the landowner.
While on the blood trail, the landowner found one of Pete’s shed antlers from 2008. Shortly after that, they spotted the huge buck stretched out along a trail near several large rubs they believed to be his. Lacy was disappointed to see that the coyotes had found him first.
A few days after the hunt, Lacy went back out to the property and found Pete’s other shed antler from 2008.
Official Score: 199 2/8
Composite Score: 218 5/8
– Photos Courtesy of Lacy Shomaker
This article was published in the November 2010 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.