Here’s an abbreviated video edit as Pat shoots an incredible 200-incher on video. For the full video, and 25 more videos of big-buck hunts, get the new book Trophy Whitetails with Pat and Nicole Reeve.
The Story of Pat Reeve’s Biggest Buck
A 200-Inch Illinois Megabuck with a Bow, Caught on Film
“During the summer of 2005, I lost my job as [deer hunting TV show] co-host and producer. It was an unexpected blow to me and my family to say the least. I no longer had a steady paycheck coming in and things were looking bleak. My family was literally living on macaroni and cheese. I was determined to start a new show equally as successful – and I knew I didn’t have any time to waste.”
“While still employed, I had also made arrangements to hunt in mid-November at Sugar Creek Outfitters in Schuyler County (Ill.). Now that I was no longer working for a prominent TV show however, I wasn’t sure if the outfitter would still want me to come. I called up the manager, Chad John, and explained the situation, not knowing what he might say. Chad said, ‘Come on! We’d love to have you!’ I’ll never forget Chad’s generosity.
“With a tremendous sense of relief, I headed to Illinois in my wonderful old maroon clunker, leaky gas tank and all. I had done some scouting at Sugar Creek during the previous summer, and knew there were some nice bucks on the farm where I planned to hunt. But never in my wildest dreams did I envision shooting a 200-inch typical megabuck!”
A Buck for the Ages
The date was November 14, 2005 – prime time in west-central Illinois. It was the second morning that Pat and cameraman Jim Musil were hunting a promising farm in Schuyler County. Pat had set up several stands in different locations on the farm owned by Sugar Creek Outfitters, but he and Jim had zeroed in on one spot in particular that held much promise. One “double-set” treestand (for a cameraman and a hunter) had been placed in a wooded draw that was full of big buck sign, and another at the top of the ridge that led down to the draw.
However, the wind had not cooperated on the first day of hunting, so he and Jim had been forced to go elsewhere. Now, in the predawn darkness on the second day, the wind seemed just right to hunt the draw. They were in the double-set treestand well before daylight. The rut was in full swing, and Pat had hopes of connecting with one of the thick-antlered trophy bucks that Illinois is so famous for producing.
Shortly after daylight, a small buck appeared in a CRP field chasing a doe. About an hour later, Pat saw several does across the ridge. Watching them through his binoculars, he noticed they were acting strangely. Could there be a big buck in the area? Pat wondered. After all, what else would make a group of does act this way?
He made several tending grunts with his Hunter’s Specialties can call. Nothing happened for another hour. Disappointed, he started second-guessing his stand location. Should they have gone to the top of the ridge instead of near the bottom?
That question was answered moments later when Pat heard the unmistakable deep, guttural grunt of a mature buck in the heavy brush about 80 yards away. By now, it was about 9:30 a.m. when a doe suddenly came running out of the thicket and stopped. Pat knew that a buck was following and told Jim to get ready with the camera. He heard another deep grunt but a large tree blocked his view of the buck as it stepped out of the thicket.
Jim spotted the buck first and instinctively whispered, “Shooter!” Then he did a double-take. This was no ordinary whitetail. The buck was huge! Jim corrected himself and whispered, “Monster!”
As the buck emerged into Pat’s view, he was not prepared for what he saw. Out stepped a massive 5-by-5, easily the biggest buck he had ever seen in the woods while hunting. He knew immediately that this deer was a record-book contender. What he didn’t know was that the deer was about to change his life forever. Pat was immediately struck with a severe case of buck fever, something that didn’t happen often.
“He was still about 60 yards away walking toward us,” Pat said. “Then he started walking toward the doe. She was off to our left in a thick spot where I knew I couldn’t get a shot. The buck was walking in a stiff-legged fashion like big bucks often do. For a moment, it looked like he was actually going to try and corral her in that thicket. I knew if he did my chances of getting a shot would be slim to none.”
Pat also knew he was in danger of being winded. If the buck continued on its present course, it would almost certainly walk right into their scent stream. Pat said a little prayer and tried to envision every possible scenario that might occur so he would be ready to react. All of a sudden, the doe darted around the buck and ran straight toward Pat’s tree. His prayer was answered.
The new book Trophy Whitetails with Pat and Nicole Reeve, Tips and Tactics from the Driven Team, authored by Duncan Dobie, features much more detail on the hunt, plus 20 pictures. Get the book here.
The doe stopped right under the tree and the buck followed in her footsteps. Trying to control his excitement and moving extremely slowly so that the doe wouldn’t see him, Pat focused on a shooting lane 30 yards out in front of the tree. But in the blink of an eye, the buck stepped through that shooting lane without offering a shot.
Now Pat focused all of his attention on the next shooting lane – located just 20 yards from the tree. He quickly made sure Jim was on the deer with the camera, then as soon as the buck stepped into the next opening, Pat voice-grunted and the buck stopped, offering a perfect broadside shot. Pat settled his 20-yard pin right behind the buck’s shoulder and released his arrow.
“I knew it was a good shot,” Pat said.