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Jim Shockey's 3 Most Memorable Whitetail Rut Hunts

The legendary hunter and naturalist admits that if he had only one game animal to hunt, it would be white-tailed deer.

Jim Shockey's 3 Most Memorable Whitetail Rut Hunts

Legendary hunter Jim Shockey shares hios most memorable whitetail rut hunts in recent years. (Photo courtesy of Jim Shockey)

Jim Shockey is a man of many talents. His list of life accomplishments is long … and growing. Most North American hunters know him as producer and host of award-winning outdoor television programs like "Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures," "The Professionals" and "Uncharted."

He owns and operates Pacific Rim Outfitters in British Columbia, featuring hunts for giant “Island" black bears, as well as Rogue River Outfitters in the Yukon territory, hunting moose, mountain caribou, Dahl sheep and grizzly. As an author and humorist, he has written hundreds of outdoors articles and columns, three books and a new "thriller" debut novel to be released soon (read the review here). He has even written and performed a song that reached No. 1 on the iTunes Blues Charts. Recognized as an expert in tribal and folk art, Shockey formerly owned an antique store and is creator and curator of the 17,000-square-foot "Hand of Man" museum in Maple Bay, B.C., which opened to the public in 2018.

Preferring the title “naturalist” over “hunter,” make no mistake that Jim Shockey is a hunter of white-tailed deer – particularly giant whitetails in the Canadian north. Although hunting rutting bull moose in the Yukon wildlands ranks as his favorite hunt, he acknowledges that if he could hunt just one animal for the rest of his life, it would be the whitetail. As part of our annual Game & Fish Regional Rut Update, Shockey recounts three memorable free-range whitetail bucks he has taken in recent years.

The Bladed Battler Buck

Jim Shockey and buck
Jim Shockey posing proudly with the 174-inch "Bladed Battler" buck, taken on the family ranch in southern Saskatchewan in November, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Jim Shockey)
  • Date: November 2016
  • Location: Southern Saskatchewan
  • Weapon: Thompson/Center Arms Encore Pro-Hunter muzzleloader
  • Range: 60 yards
  • Age: 7 1/2 years
  • Score: 174-plus gross B&C
Jim and Eva Shockey
Shockey and his daughter Eva display their 2016 bucks, both taken on the same day. Jim said the "most important detail" of their hunt was that his buck was bigger than Eva’s! (Photo courtesy of Jim Shockey)

The brutal winters of 2013 and 2014 took a toll on Saskatchewan’s whitetail population, particularly in the northern reaches of the province. Although some adults survived, deer numbers were low. Shockey was out of the country when the whitetail season opened in 2016, arriving to hunt at the family ranch in southern Sask during the second week of muzzleloader season. Despite being 7 1/2 months pregnant with her first child, daughter Eva had been hunting about two hours north for more than a week. Wind direction was perfect, as Jim hiked to his blind in the morning darkness for his first day of hunting. He called Eva to check legal shooting time and got settled.

It wasn’t long before the hulking shape of a mature buck appeared in the darkness. Too early to legally shoot, Jim waited … and waited. In fact, he waited a full five minutes past legal time to draw a bead on the bruiser buck with lots of extra points. The good news: the heavy bladed antlers on this 7 1/2-year-old, sporting a broken lower jaw from fighting, scored 174-plus gross B&C. The bad news: Jim’s hunt was over just a few minutes after it began! Eva killed her own near-perfect 10-point buck just one hour later, after a much longer and considerably more challenging hunt.

Having hunted whitetails with his father Hal for many years, Jim said: “This was the first buck that I killed in Saskatchewan after my father passed away, so this was a really memorable one for me. And, I personally like bucks with trash … But the most important detail is that my buck was much bigger than Eva’s!”

“No one ever shot a big buck from his nice, warm bed”—Jim Shockey

The Non-Typical Covid Buck

Jim Shockey with big buck
This 176-inch non-typical defied the odds and walked in to Shockey’s stand after a full day of brush-clearing commotion and stand construction. (Photo courtesy of Jim Shockey)
  • Date: November 2020
  • Location: Southern Saskatchewan
  • Weapon: Bowtech Archery REALM SR6 compound bow / Rage broadhead
  • Range: 22 yards
  • Age: 7 1/2 years
  • Score: 176 gross B&C

Quoting Shockey: "I will always remember the 2020 season, the year my mommy passed away. It was the year of Covid, and the year the Saskatchewan whitetail numbers finally rebounded from the devastating winters of 2013 and 2014." With his 2016 buck being the only one he had taken in Sask since 2013, he continued: "Although I could have tagged up every year, I didn’t because I wasn’t seeing the whitetail population numbers or age classes to justify taking one."

With his interminable international travel schedule, none of the necessary preparatory work had been done in the area he would hunt, chosen based on trail-camera photos of a giant non-typical. On day 1 in the field, brush was cut and removed, two Primos Double Bull Blinds joined at the hip to provide extra room for video equipment and drawing a bow were installed, and an elevated stand to offer an additional video angle was built.




wall of antler mounts
A European mount of the 176-inch non-typical occupies a front-and-center position near Shockey’s desk. It was taken in 2020, the year his mother passed away. (Photo courtesy of Jim Shockey)

A couple hours of shooting light remained after the work was completed, so chainsaws were put away and Jim decided to sit for the remainder of the afternoon. Why not, right? With just 10 minutes of legal shooting light remaining, the improbable happened, as the big 7 1/2-year-old non-typical rolled in. A Rage broadhead sent special delivery by Bowtech from 22 yards effectively ended the hunt. The European Mount of this special buck occupies a "front-and-center" position near Shockey’s desk.

The Nocturnal Rut-Depleted Buck

Jim Shockey with white-tailed buck
Jim Shockey proudly displays the giant 193-4/8” non-typical, taken after hunting this buck—and this buck only—for 36 days during the 2022 season (Photo courtesy of Jim Shockey).
  • Date: Late November 2022
  • Location: Southern Saskatchewan
  • Weapon: Thompson/Center Arms Encore Pro-Hunter muzzleloader
  • Range: 60 yards
  • Age: 6 1/2 years
  • Score: 193 4/8 gross B&C

With the passing of his resident parents, British Columbia resident Shockey must now draw a tag to hunt the family ranch in Saskatchewan. In September 2022, he received a photo on his cellphone from a Covert Scouting Camera setup on the ranch. This was a giant, non-typical buck that he got trail cam photos of back in 2020.

In his own words: "Since I drew a 2022 whitetail tag to hunt our ranch, I figured that IF this particular buck walked by me, I’d take the shot. And, IF this buck never walked by me for the entire season, I just wouldn’t take any other buck!"

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Knowing that it might be years before he would draw a whitetail tag again, Shockey said he did not sit on stand day after day to "kill" a deer. "I just wanted to sit and blend in with nature, to watch deer." More importantly, he wanted this quiet time "to give thanks, to bathe in the fond memories of family and friends, to recall the stories of those hunts on our family ranch." With just a couple of daylight trail cam pics of this 99.9-percent nocturnal buck over the past three years, Jim knew the odds were "nearly zero" that he would make a mistake and walk by. Shockey thought this was ideal, as the odds were nearly 100 percent that he would get to hunt the entire season.

It takes a great deal of discipline to pass four different bucks that would likely score in the 170’s, including a typical scoring 178 inches that was later taken by a local and verified with a photo. Shockey figures he spent "close to 250 hours waiting on stand" for the big non-typical, a buck that showed up at 10 of the 13 different stands on the ranch during the rut, but always at night.

When I asked how he could sit for so many hours, day after day, he gave a trademark "Shockey, the Quipster" reply: "It beats watching Laverne & Shirley reruns!" With a more serious answer he paraphrased a famous quote from Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Willa Cather: "Desire is the magical element in creation that begets achievement."

trail cam images of whitetail deer
October 2020 trail camera image of the non-typical buck that Shockey would take two years later, during the 2022 whitetail season. (Photo courtesy of Jim Shockey)

On the 36th day of sitting in wait, the buck made what Shockey called "his first mistake in a flawless life of survival," chasing a doe by the "Family Stand." Depleted to "skin-and-bones" from rutting, Jim said the rut was the only reason he was able to take the 193-4/8 giant. This was the first time this buck had ever shown up at this stand during daylight, a stand where Jim’s daughter Eva, his son Branlin, his cousin Guy and his father-in-law Len had taken bucks as well. Shockey’s father Hal took his last buck from this same stand, and his ashes are spread around it. Hal was standing by Jim’s side when he took his first whitetail buck 50 years prior. In reflection, Jim said: "He was by my side again when this buck showed up."

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