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A Son's Gift

Paul Shipman
Paul Shipman harvested this Illinois buck moments after his son arrowed a 14-point buck at another location.
By Paul Shipman

-- "Go ahead and see if you can get him, Dad. I have to work," said my son.

I have to admit, I was surprised at Josh's remark. After all, we had just been watching one of the largest bucks I have personally ever seen in 31 years of deer hunting. It was Nov. 10, 2007, in northwest Illinois. We had just spent the weekend hunting. The day before we had watched this beautiful 190-plus buck breed a doe within bow range of where our stand was located the prior weekend. 

I had spotted plenty of small bucks under that stand but thought I could do better. So we watched this buck from our new location about 150 yards north. Eventually, I accepted the offer to go after this buck. After all, I had made plans to take a week of vacation, so I could hunt every moment before gun season opened.

Monday dawned and I was more than eager to get back in that tree. It's a 40-minute drive to the hunting spot and a 15-minute walk to the stand. However, I was still there an hour before first light. Being in a treestand, whether you're looking at a big buck or not, is one of the highlights of my life. In my opinion, there is nothing like watching nature when nature is unaware that it is being watched.

Josh Shipman
Josh Shipman let work get in the way of hunting a monster buck with his dad. However, he managed to take a 14-point buck in the closing moments of the Illinois bow season.
For two days before and the three days to come, I enjoyed every minute in that stand. Turkeys, coyotes, squirrels, raccoons and dozens of deer were seen. And when I say every minute, I mean an hour before first light until the last minute of legal shooting light for six days straight. The only problem was the big boy was hiding!

A doe and her fawn were feeding in the picked cornfield in front of me. I was getting depressed because this is a heavily hunted gun area. Tomorrow was the opener for the first gun season. I was sure that this huge buck my son and I had seen five days earlier would fall to the guns of autumn.

Then, the doe looked at something to my left and behind me. I slowly turned and there on top of a hill stood the reason why I hunt. I immediately got the fever and grabbed for my camcorder. The buck was about 75 yards out and watching the doe. Suddenly, in my viewfinder, I saw the doe walk past the buck. I thought it was all over. But as usual, strange things happen when deer hunting. The buck ignored the doe and started toward my stand.

I put the camera down and grabbed my bow. As the buck walked into my first shooting lane, I drew back and tried to stop it. The buck kept moving. Then I felt a buzz in my chest. Then another buzz. It was my vibrating phone letting me someone was calling. I ignored the call, eased back on my release and watched the arrow connect with the buck. I won! The buck was just shy of 200 inches! 
The phone call was from my son who, before leaving for work, had sat in one of my treestands closer to our house. My son arrowed a 132-inch, 14-point buck just seconds before I made my shot. 

I'm not a rich man, so I planned to buy a European mount, which is something I could afford. Then, my son and our taxidermist surprised me with a full shoulder mount, which was given to me as a birthday gift.

Paul Shipman
Milledgeville, Illinois

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