Magnolia State Record Book Bucks Of 2007 -- Part 1

Magnolia State Record Book Bucks Of 2007 -- Part 1

Downing a Boone and Crockett-caliber buck is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Here's the story of two Mississippians who accomplished the feat last season!

Chad Tate saw the trail cam photos of the monster buck and knew immediately that it was to be his son's deer. Almost two months later, it was.

As soon as Dr. Paul Warrington shot his trophy buck, he thought about his son in a nearby stand and how pleased he'd be to know that the deer they'd been hunting their whole lives was down.

Family -- and not always just in the form of father and son -- has always been a great part of the hunting tradition. So many great stories of success and love form the fabric of each deer season.

But never in the history of Mississippi has family had the impact it had on the record books as it did last season. Both of the bucks mentioned above qualified for the Boone and Crockett Club Record Book of North American Big Game.

Both hunts also involve great stories from the Mississippi woodlands. Here's a look at both of these yarns of successful hunts.

SHELBY TATE

207 6/8 B&C Non-Typical

In mid-November prior to the opening of the gun season, Chad Tate of Summit grabbed the disks out of the trail cameras from his deer camp in Amite County. As he scanned through the pictures on his computer, he nearly passed out: It was the biggest buck he'd ever seen -- way bigger than anything Tate had ever heard of from a county not known for giant bucks or non-typical growth.

Eleven-year-old Shelby Tate's non-typical buck from Amite County scored an impressive 207 6/8 B&C.

Photo courtesy of Chad Tate.

"I couldn't believe what I was looking at," he said. "I looked at the pictures and all I could think of was that somebody had played a joke on me. It was a monster buck. I mean a real monster buck!"

As it became obvious that no trick had been played, and that the whitetail was real and living and walking around his deer camp, another thought occurred to Tate: This was a record-book buck.

"I knew immediately that this was a sure-enough Boone and Crockett buck -- and if it was going to be listed in the record book, either in B&C or in Mississippi's (Magnolia Records) book, the name beside it was not going to be mine," Tate said. "No, the name I wanted with that deer was my son's."

At age 11 Shelby Tate was to inherit the buck.

With that decision began a long, arduous labor of love that wouldn't play out for almost seven weeks. Killing a buck that big wouldn't be easy -- nor should it have been.

"I can't tell you now much agony that deer put us through," Chad Tate recalled. "I knew the area he was using. The cams had done that for us. It was in a small bottom, and there was a small field in it. That little field was where I knew we would likely get our best chance. I studied it and figured out exactly what conditions we needed wind-wise to hunt that area.

"I told all the people that hunt that area -- and it's not that many -- to stay away from there. And they did. We made that area off limits except to Shelby, and only then when the conditions were just right. They almost never were."

For over a month, the Tates watched the short-term and long-term weather forecasts, and waited. "I wasn't in any hurry," the elder Tate said. "Really, I wanted to let the buck get settled, get very comfortable in his zone while all the hunting was going on around him. I'm not saying that I didn't want to go in there and hunt him, but I was in no hurry. I wanted everything to be just right, not only for us, but for the buck."

The first gun season passed, as did the muzzle-loading season. Then Christmas came, and went. And still the Tates held off.

Finally, on Dec. 28, it all came together: The wind was right, and the bucks were starting to actively move on does. And the Tates were ready for an afternoon hunt.

The hunting party consisted of Chad Tate and his fiancée Erica Tate (no relation -- at least, not yet) and Shelby. There was no stand in the area, so they carried a pop-up blind and one other accessory that made all the difference in the world.

"I have to credit Erica for the one thing that may have closed the deal," Shelby Tate said. "I wanted us to all be together and knew the ground blind was the only way we could do that. But in that small area the ground blind would be kind of obvious and would stick out pretty bad.

"I knew immediately that this was a sure-enough Boone and Crockett buck -- and if it was going to be listed in the record book . . ." --Chad Tatum

"Erica came up with this idea, I think from watching TV or in a magazine story: She suggested we get a doe decoy, put some estrus scent on it and that might keep the buck's attention away from us in the blind. She went to the store and got everything we needed to do that."

"I knew the only way we were going to get that buck to step out in to the open in daylight and with that ground blind was with the decoy," Erica remarked.

Arriving in the bottom at 3 p.m., they put up the blind in the shadows at the edge of the opening. Chad and Erica put the doe decoy about 25 yards in front of the pop-up and doused it heavily. "We made her smell real good," Chad said. Then they climbed into the stand to wait.

The plan couldn't have worked any better. About an hour later, they caught a glimpse of movement about 50 yards away at the edge of the field. Without hesitation a buck walked right out into the field.

"It was the buck -- the big buck we'd been looking for," Chad recalled. "I couldn't believe it. Everything worked so perfectly. He walked into the field about 50 yards from our stand and he headed straight for the decoy. He never had a clue we were there."

Shelby got ready, easing his rifle out the window. "I told him to wait, because I could tell there was no need to hurry," Chad Tate said. "The wind was perfect. The buck was concentrating on the decoy, and he was walking right to it. He walked right up to the decoys and stopped 25 yards from our blind."

Boom! Shelby Tate's rifle roared, and the deal was officially closed. The youngster never flinched.

"He was perfect," the proud daddy said. "I asked him after if he got nervous." No, Shelby replied to his dad, because he'd done what Chad had told him and never looked at the antlers. He'd focused on where he was going to aim, he said, and never looked away until after he'd taken the shot.

Rick Dillard of the U.S. Forest Service officially scored the stunning buck at 207 6/8 B&C points. He was certainly stunned: "Not only for its mass, but for where it came from," he said. "Amite County? Nobody could see that coming."

To Chad Tate, the buck and the story represent three very important things. "First is the importance of trail cams," he offered. "Second is how effective a doe decoy can be. Third, and most important, is how great it is to make deer hunting a family event.

"As proud as Shelby is, I think I'm even more proud," he added. "Sure, I'd have loved to have shot this buck, but, seriously -- I wouldn't have loved it as much as the three of us being in that ground blind and being right beside Shelby when he shot it."

Dr. Paul Warrington bagged his buck Bolivar County. It sported a rack scoring 176 4/8 B&C.

Photo courtest of Dr. Paul Warrington

DR. PAUL WARRINGTON

176 4/8 B&C Typical

Hunters have this thing about naming trophy bucks. Some earn nicknames representative of their antlers, like "The Freak" or "The Hole in the Horn Buck." Others are simply named after the lucky hunter.

Forget all of that in the case of Dr. Paul Warrington's 176 4/8-inch buck taken Nov. 23 in Bolivar County. The magnificently symmetrical 12-point Boone and Crockett qualifier has but one name: Walter.

That's right: Walter.

"It's a father-and-son thing," said Warrington, of Cleveland. "It has a special meaning for us."

We'll get to that later. First, there's the story of the hunt.

Nov. 23, 2007, was Egg Bowl day in Mississippi, which any Magnolia State football fan knows is the day that sees rivals Mississippi State and Ole Miss play football. It's almost always televised, and most hunters schedule their hunting around the game. At many camps, large gatherings do a little friendly wagering and throw a big party.

It was the day after Thanksgiving, so a crowd had assembled at the Bolivar County camp of which the Warringtons are members. A late-morning kickoff accommodated a morning hunt and left plenty of time for another in the afternoon -- at least for the Warringtons.

The morning hunt was a bust, at least by the club's standards. "I saw a bunch of racked bucks, but none of them were shooters," Dr. Warrington said. "I saw some small 8s, and I think a couple of 10s, but nothing to shoot. There was a lot of deer movement that morning, I know that; I saw a lot of does. It was a good show, but not very productive."

At least, it wasn't productive until Warrington knew it was time to leave the stand and head to camp for pregame preparations. "I climbed out of the stand and walked out to my truck," he recounted. "As I was headed for my son's stand, I drove past this area and I caught a glimpse of a big-bodied deer. It was huge -- so much larger than any deer I'd seen in a long, long time. I didn't see any antlers, but I knew from its size that it was likely a big buck."

Warrington made a mental note of the area, picked up his son and headed to camp for lunch and football. All through the meal and the game he kept thinking back to the big-bodied deer from that morning. "I couldn't get it out of my mind," he admitted. "It was that big. I couldn't really concentrate on the game that much. I kept thinking about the buck and how I could hunt it, and I remembered that I had a stand in that area pretty close to where I'd seen the body moving in the brush."

The game proved disappointing for Warrington, like most of the other camp members a big Ole Miss fan. Leading 14-0 after three quarters, the Rebels collapsed under the relentless pressure of a late Bulldog rally, and State won 17-14. Collective mood in camp: bummed.

"Everybody was kind of down," Warrington agreed, "but I was still thinking about that big deer, and I wanted to hunt. I think my son and I were the only members who went back to the woods that afternoon."

It was a good decision for Warrington, who, dropping his son at his preferred hunting spot, drove to the area and headed for the stand in the area of the big deer.

"I went to my stand, climbed up, hung my rifle on a peg and tried to sit down," he said. "I couldn't. I guess I was thinking so much about that big deer I had forgotten to remove my backpack. I couldn't sit down all the way so I stood back up to take it off. When I did, I saw the same big-bodied deer. I couldn't believe it; there it was!"

The buck was standing just 150 yards to Warrington's left. "I grabbed my binoculars for a better look and all I could see was one side of its head," he said, adding that it was all he needed to see. "I saw all these points on one side, and I knew right then it was a shooter."

Warrington began to assess the situation. Upon studying the area with binoculars, he saw that the buck was following a group of does and yearlings that were leading the big boy on a line across the front of Warrington's stand.

"I kept glassing the whole area trying to figure out how this would play out," the doctor explained, "and I realized I had a problem developing. If the does kept moving on the same path -- and they seemed determined to do so -- they would eventually cross my wind.

"I sat there and watched him breathe his last breath, which any hunter knows is a sad part of hunting. I hate that he had to die for me to get a trophy, you know -- but that's a part of hunting." --Dr. Paul Warrington

"I was also looking for shooting lanes. It is pretty thick down in there and there weren't many openings. I kept watching the lead doe and looking back and forth to the buck. It looked like she might cross my wind before he reached the first opening I could find to shoot through."

Fortunately -- for Warrington, not the buck -- the lead doe never walked into his scent. Stopping every few yards to feed, the doe reached a place about 100 yards in front of Warrington. Behind the train of does and yearlings, the big buck stopped about 25 yards farther behind the doe, right behind a hackberry tree.

"I didn't have a clear shot at him be

hind the hackberry," Warrington said. "I looked back at the doe and I knew that if she started walking again, she would soon hit my wind, and it would be over. I knew I was running out of time and couldn't wait much longer. The first shot I got, I had to take it.

"I looked back at the buck and could see his head and neck sticking out from behind the hackberry. I knew it was 125 yards and I knew my gun and my ability to make a shot at that distance. I put the scope on its neck, saw I had a clear shot -- and I took it."

The big buck collapsed right where it stood. "I slid down the rail of my ladder stand instead of climbing," said Warrington, laughing. "And I bet I covered that 125 yards in 6.2 seconds. When I got there, all I could do was sit down against that hackberry tree and stare at that buck.

"I sat there and watched him breathe his last breath, which any hunter knows is a sad part of hunting. I hate that he had to die for me to get a trophy, you know -- but that's a part of hunting. He's the kind of buck everyone wants to get -- dreams of getting."

He's all that, and then some. Which leads us to the name Walter.

"After the deer died and I finished marveling over it, I went to get my son to help me get him out of the woods," Warrington said. "When I walked up to his stand, I simply said, 'Jim, I need your help. I got Walter.'

"That's all I had to say. He knew exactly what I meant. He flew out of that stand to help me. Jim and I for years have referred to the ultimate buck or, really, the ultimate anything as a Walter. We got it from a movie we'd watch together many years ago. Whenever we'd talk about something in the superlative, we'd call it a Walter."

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.