Kate Sanford had never seen the giant whitetail that ambled to 30 yards on opening morning of the Missouri rifle season, but she dropped him with one perfect shot
|Rack Report Details|
|Time of Year:||November 12, 2022|
|Weapon:||Marlin .30-30 rifle Rifle|
I'm still processing all of it, Kate Sanford said of her opening-day Missouri hunt when she nailed a mega-buck. That morning, she'd been hunting with her husband, Shawn, which is rare since they have three daughters, including an 11-year-old and 6-year-old twins. Usually, one watches the children while the other hunts, but they found sitters for opening day, which allowed them to finally hunt together.
The Sanfords take their deer game very seriously. They put a lot of time into scouting, hanging stands, and planting food plots. Kate rolls up her sleeves and jumps right in, Shawn said. She doesn't just show up to shoot. She works hard right alongside me.
Missouri's opener was a cold, windy one. The elevated blind that the Sanfords selected to hunt from that morning typically has two chairs in it, but Shawn forgot that he'd swiped one of the chairs for something else. With no time to run back home to get another chair, they adapted.
We took turns switching between sitting on the floor and the chair, Kate recalled. I was on the chair and he was on the floor, and we were just about to switch when I saw a monster buck coming down the hill. While he was approaching, I told Shawn that I wasn't going to look at the antlers through the scope. I've learned not to do that because I get too worked up. He came right toward our blind and was preparing to cross the dry creek bed 30 yards away. I stopped him with a mouth-grunt and then shot.
The huge buck ran 30-some yards and had appeared to fall down. However, the Sanfords were unable to see the buck and confirm it. Meanwhile, other deer started moving through the creek bottom.
I was shaking really bad afterwards for at least half an hour, Kate remembered. I didn't realize how big he was when I shot him. Shawn has a 170-class buck hanging in our living room, and I was thinking that this one was similar in size. But Shawn assured me that my buck was considerably larger. He suggested that we wait another 15 minutes before getting down.
The wait was too excruciating, and after 10 more minutes, Kate was ready to bail out of the blind. But then four does appeared. They were heading toward where the buck was believed to be, so the couple agreed that if the does spooked, it meant Kate's buck was dead right where they'd thought.
The does showed no signs that the buck was over there, Kate said, and some doubt obviously crept in. Once they moved away, I got down and crept toward the dry creek to see if I could find any blood trail. I found some right away, and it led me right to the buck. He was down right there just 30 yards from where he'd been standing when I shot. He was caught up in some briars at the edge of the creek bank, hanging on by a thread from a 10-foot plummet to the dry creek bed below. Had he fallen, it would've made the retrieval very difficult.
Typical bucks in the 190 class don't come along every day. The interesting part of this story is that the Sanfords didn't know the buck existed prior to the hunt. They knew of some bucks in the 150- to 160-class, but they didn't know a buck beyond their wildest dreams was roaming the neighborhood.
After the fact, we learned that adjacent landowners knew of the buck for at least a couple of years, Kate mentioned. In 2021, he was right around 160 inches. He added lots of antler this year.
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