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Shooting the Emperor for His Clothes

By Seth McCray

Seth McCray
Seeing this Missouri buck on the hoof, few hunters would've noticed the extraordinary array of sticker points its rack carries. Photo Courtesy of Seth McCray.

Missouri's second rifle season was winding down as I shivered in my stand on Nov. 19, my mind elsewhere. I was thinking of the incredible buck I'd shot with my bow a couple of weeks earlier. The story appeared in this magazine last month.

Truthfully, I was just going through the motions. I regretted caping out my bow buck for a shoulder mount, deciding after the fact that it deserved nothing less than full-body treatment. My wife and I had rifle tags, though, and I was looking for a big-bodied whitetail - for its hide, not its rack. My taxidermist was on the lookout for a new set of clothes for my buck as well.

Saturday was a bust. When I returned to the woods Sunday morning, the temperature had warmed, and I saw several does before breaking for church and a bite to eat. I was back in a stand, this time about 500 yards from where I'd arrowed my big buck, around 3 p.m.

Fifteen minutes after settling in, I heard a buck grunting. The accompanying ruckus sounded like it was chasing a doe. The rut was still going on there. The deer were just out of sight in the thick timber. I was then fortunate enough to hear the new sound everyone is talking about, the "buck growl."

I answered with my own buck growler, which my father had purchased for me, and I added the occasional bleat with my can call. The buck continued to chase the doe in the thicket for almost 30 minutes. I tried to stay focused on all the commotion and kept my eyes peeled in that direction, but then I heard something else moving within the thicket. A flock of turkeys passed through, scratching around, not noticing me or paying much mind to the deer-crash derby going on within earshot.

Seth McCray
Without such incredible bases, this rack would have been just another impressive mainframe 8-pointer. This portion of the crown accounts for 21 of the 31 points and about 47 of the rack's 202 3⁄8 inches.

After they left, I continued to grunt and bleat. About an hour later, the buck chased the doe directly toward my stand. When they were at 50 yards, I was finally able to make out their bodies through the thick timber. Looking through my scope, I could tell the buck was large-bodied - just what I had been hoping for. I could also tell it had a nice P-2 and P-3 on the left side.

Good enough. I decided to take it.

I grunted to try to stop them. The doe froze to my left, and the buck put on the brakes directly in front of me, but slightly behind a tree. I raised my Remington Model 700 and found the buck in my scope. When the buck stepped from behind the tree, I made a grunt call with my mouth and it halted.

With me 24 feet aloft and my .270 sighted-in an inch and a half high at 100 yards, I knew my shot would probably hit high, so I aimed low. As soon as I squeezed the trigger, the animal collapsed.

Descending my tree, I was more excited about finding a new hide for my bow deer. I was only mildly curious as to what kind of rack this buck wore, although I'd guessed that it was decent.

As I approached the buck, I was blown away by its unusual bottom-heavy rack. Only a few steps away, I got a bigger surprise when its eye blinked.

I jumped back just before the animal lunged forward with a low grunt. I stepped back again and fired. I don't think anything has ever made my heart leap so hard.

Read More Stories From RACK MagazineStanding there in awe of this buck, I waited a few minutes before approaching a second time. I sure didn't want the life scared out of me again.

As I regained a little of my composure, I stood next to the buck that, amazingly, was even bigger than the one I'd shot with my bow. I couldn't believe it!

I was so overtaken with excitement that I had trouble counting the numerous points. I came up with a different number every time I tried.

Since darkness was only an hour away, I left everything and ran as fast as I could toward the buddy stand where my wife was sitting - a half-mile to the south. She thought I was kidding when I told her I'd shot a 200-inch deer. After convincing her I really had, she went to get my father and the four-wheeler.

My dad, wife and my 3-year-old son were beside me while I once again inspected the monstrous buck in the fading light. A slightly calmer count revealed 31 points atop extremely long main beams.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I could take a second amazing buck. I was truly blessed in 2006. Not only did I harvest a pair of fabulous whitetails, but I also welcomed a second beautiful baby boy.

Hunter: Seth McCray
Official Score: 202 3/8"
Composite Score: 219 7/8"
Centerfire Rifle
Irregular

-- Reprinted from the November 2007 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine

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