Tucker Shepard is a duck hunter first and foremost, but he got his first buck, a once-in-a-lifetime whitetail, back in November
|Rack Report Details
|Time of Year:
|November 18, 2023
|Henry County, Ohio
|Savage 350 Legend rifle
Tucker Shepard’s first love in the hunting world is waterfowl, but he found some time to hunt the Ohio youth deer season and anchored this incredible whitetail during his first outing. Image courtesy of Tucker Shepard
“I’m not really much of a deer hunter,” admitted Ohio’s Tucker Shepard as we discussed the buck he anchored during Ohio’s youth deer season in mid-November. “I’m more of a waterfowl hunter. I just took my first deer last year with a cheap Savage 350 Legend from Dunham’s Sporting Goods, and it was a doe.”
But Shepard got his first buck ever this year, and it’s a deer he likely won’t top in his lifetime.
While many Realtree Rack Report stories are about big bucks that hunters had some history with — sheds, trail camera pictures, and summer-scouting encounters — Shepard saw the buck in this tale for the first time just minutes before he shot and killed it. Sometimes killing a huge whitetail is simply about being in the right place at the right time.
Based on a tip from his uncle, Shepard was aware that a big buck was in the area he hunts. So, he decided to give it a try, and he killed the world-class animal on his first outing. “My brother and I went out and hunted a small section of woods in the middle of a 300-acre cornfield,” Shepard began. “We got set up on the ground. A small six-pointer was chasing two does nearby about 30 minutes before the end of legal shooting light. Once they left, we decided to leave, too, because we couldn’t see any other deer. We walked back to the car and drove around to the field’s opposite side. Over there, we saw three deer in the field about 150 yards away. I pulled up my binoculars, and that’s when I saw the rack. The other two deer were does.
“I parked the car just off the road and into the headlands of the field,” Shepard continued. “My family farms, and we own the field. I carefully got my gun, and then my brother and I army-crawled toward the buck. There’s a little bit of a contour in the field, and he was at a slightly higher elevation than us. But once we were able to clearly see him over the hill, he was about 75 yards away. At first, I tried to get a shot from the prone position, but the corn stubble was too tall. So, I slowly rose up onto my knees. He saw me right before I took my shot. He just stared at me. I almost had this weird connection with him at that moment.”
The buck, taken on the first afternoon of Ohio’s mid-November youth hunt, has an unbelievable 24-inch inside spread and unofficially grosses 206 inches. Image courtesy of Tucker Shepard
Shepard said that buck fever struck as he and his brother watched the buck walk away, following the shot.
“I felt pretty confident in the shot, but I wasn’t too sure because he didn’t drop right away,” he explained. “He didn’t even jump or run or anything like that. He basically just turned and started walking away, and we were able to keep our eyes on him for a while, but then we lost him. He was heading toward the woodlot where we were hunting earlier that afternoon, which is about 425 yards away from where I shot him.
Shepard and his brother returned to the car, called their dad, and went home to give the deer some time. “We rounded up some buddies and flashlights, and when we made it to where I shot him about 4 hours later, we found no blood. So, we decided to just go to the woodlot, which was in the direction he was last seen heading. It’s also the closest cover.”
Shepard said the woodlot is only 2 or 3 acres, and beyond that was standing corn. “Some of my buddies were looking by the standing corn, but there’s a steep hill he would have had to walk up to reach the corn, so I stayed down lower,” Shepard said. “I found him in the bottom of a really thick, nasty part. He had made it a long way for being hit through the lungs. When we gutted him, we found a giant blood clot, which is why we didn’t find a blood trail.”
Shepard didn’t hunt waterfowl as much as he likes to this fall, but he reported having a really good early season. In recent weeks, he’s been out some more and shot a bunch of mallards. As for deer hunting, he plans to keep it casual and go when he finds time. But chances are he won’t forget his stare-down with a 206-inch buck — his first buck ever — anytime soon.
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