Ellie Sanford will never forget day two of her 2023 Missouri youth deer hunt.
|Rack Report Details
|Time of Year:
|October 29, 2023
|Sullivan County, Missouri
|Remington Model 700 6mm rifle
Ellie Sanford hunted with her father, Shawn, during the late-October Missouri youth hunt and anchored this 171-inch whitetail after it worked a scrape. Image courtesy of Shawn Sanford
“Is it as big as Mom’s buck?” Ellie Sanford queried as she and her father, Shawn, approached the monster buck that she anchored on October 29 this fall. “Nope. Try again,” Shawn wisely cracked amidst a chuckle. For reference, Ellie’s mother, Kate, took a 190-class buck in November 2022. Perhaps you recall reading our Rack Report about that buck last fall. Kate’s deer is one of the largest ever taken by a woman in the Show Me State.
Although Ellie is only 12 years old, she has a handful of hunting seasons under her belt. In fact, she’d killed four other bucks over the previous years, the largest being an 8-pointer that measured about 120 inches. When asked why she likes hunting, she said, “I like how it’s so quiet in the woods. Plus, it gives me the chance to get away from my 7-year-old twin sisters!”
Now, on to Ellie’s hunt.
Shawn mentioned that he was aware that the buck was roaming on their farm. “We had trail camera pictures of him,” he said. “We even got one on our cell cam the night before Ellie’s successful hunt. He’d walked within 25 yards of the stand that she killed him from.
“Ellie loves to deer hunt,” Shawn continued. “She was already awake when I went into her room to wake her up that morning. She was so excited to go. The previous day, she, one of her sisters, and I had hunted together on the other side of our farm. It was a pretty slow hunt. We didn’t see a whole lot. Anyway, Ellie was ready to go super early that next morning, which was October 29. Our farm is about a 45-minute drive from our house.”
Ellie took over the storytelling and said, “We got out to the stand that we call the Penthouse. We sat for a few hours and saw some turkeys in our food plot doing what turkeys do. I got a little bit bored after that and decided to get out my phone. Eventually, a little 4-pointer came out and ate in the food plot. After he left, two does came out.”
Ellie Sanford, 12, had some hunting seasons and a handful bucks under her belt prior to the 2023 hunt. This buck, however, is by far her largest. Image courtesy of Shawn Sanford
Shawn noticed that one of the does exhibited alert behavior. “She was looking back behind her every now and again,” he said. “Ellie was ready to cut loose on one of the does, but I explained to her what was happening and that it would be wise to hold off and see if the alert doe was looking at a buck. I told her that the does would be in the food plot eating for a while anyway and that we should just see how things would play out.”
While Shawn kept his eyes on the does, Ellie glanced over toward a nearby cove. “I noticed that something was moving around down there,” she told. “I said, ‘Dad, there’s something over there.’ Then, we saw this huge buck step out.”
The buck made his way to a scrape and started working it while facing directly away from the hunters. “As he tilted his head back and messed with the licking branch, I knew that he was a giant buck,” Shawn said. “I explained to Ellie that he’d either head for the does next or go hit another nearby scrape. I told her to get ready. As he started walking, he was quartered away from us.”
Shawn mouth-grunted to stop the buck at about 80 yards. The deer paused briefly, but when it took another step, Shawn did it again. This time, the buck stopped and turned more broadside. Ellie was quick on the gun and put a great shot on the buck.
“He ran about 25 yards and fell over,” she said. “We stayed in the blind for a few minutes just to make sure that he was dead. I was shaking so hard. The entire blind was shaking, and I couldn’t stop smiling. Then, we walked down and found him. We were so happy. I called my mom from the woods on FaceTime and showed her the deer. She was so excited for me.”
While Ellie’s buck isn’t as big as her mother’s from last season, it’s a deer that any right-minded hunter would be thrilled to tag.
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