It's been quite the month of September for Team Tecomate, which is currently in the midst of a big antlered blitz across the Great Plains and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains as the crew films shows for a new season.
Earlier in the month, Team Tecomate – Jordan Shipley, David Morris and others – notched a few deer tags with their muzzleloading smokepoles.
Including one tag that was used on a world-class big buck bruiser, perhaps one of the best whitetails ever captured on film.
While traveling to an early-season waterfowl hunt of my own, I caught wind of Shipley's success and tried to get a few details from the Texas resident while I was sitting in an airport.
"I have awful service right now, but here's the quick story," Shipley replied from the field.What followed was an amazing hunting tale, even from a group accustomed to putting their tags on big antlered bucks.
"Team Tecomate started off with a bang ... or several (actually) ... in the opening week of muzzleloader season in Kansas," said Shipley, the former University of Texas and NFL wide receiver turned television show host.
While in Kansas, Shipley and Tecomate guest Sam Shackelford killed a couple of great white-tailed bucks in the Sunflower State.
Show host David Morris and Tecomate guest David Shashy then killed their own big bucks at another location where the crew was filming in Kansas.As it turns out, those solid 150-class and better bucks were merely serving as the warm-up act for the Tecomate cameras.
"(Then) things got really interesting when a giant whitetail showed up on our Reconyx cameras about halfway through the hunt," said Shipley.
"The buck was in a location not far from where a third hunter (of ours), Bubba Belk, was hunting," said Shipley.
"David (Morris), a longtime whitetail expert and host of The Bucks of Tecomate, estimated the deer at over 210 inches with a gross typical frame that could be over 200 inches."
To say the least, that stirred the Tecomate camp up a bit.
"Bubba repositioned for the (next) afternoon's hunt," said Shipley. "When the world-class buck showed up with two hours of daylight left, he shed his velvet just out of range the entire evening."
The next day, another cat-and-mouse game ensued as the hunter chased a world-class whitetail.
"It ended on the evening of September 19 when the massive buck came in range and Bubba took full advantage of the situation with a great shot from his muzzleloader," said Shipley.
"The buck ran into a thicket (at the shot) and Bubba, along with David Morris and outfitter Larry Ellis (http://www.ewahunting.com), decided not to chance it and returned the following morning," he added.Shipley said that the buck, known as "Pitchfork," was recovered in less than five minutes time on the morning of September 20.
"He blew away everyone's predictions (about the buck's antler size)," said Shipley. "The gross green Boone & Crockett score came in at a whopping 232 inches and some change.
"His gross typical frame measured 224 inches before deductions!" added Shipley. "The buck had 44 inches of mass, 27-inch main beams and a left side that measured out to an unheard of 113 inches combined.
"That's one of the biggest, if not the biggest, fair chase typical framed bucks ever killed on camera."Shipley said that the story of Team Tecomate's incredible early season muzzleloader hunt in Kansas will air on a future episode of The Bucks of Tecomate television show. That show will be featured on Outdoor Channel in 2015.
After the smokepole success in Kansas, Shipley and some others on the Tecomate crew headed for Montana to chase deer and antelope with archery gear.Over the course of their hunt in the Big Sky State, dozens of whitetails, mule deer and pronghorn antelope were seen by the crew.
Finally, after several days of close calls with various sits in blinds and some fruitless spot and stalk attempts, Shipley was able to get close enough to seal the deal on a big Montana mule deer.
"Pulled it out the last day in Montana!" read Shipley's text describing his success.
Jordan Shipley shows off a nice mature Montana mule deer he harvested with a bow in September. (Photo courtesy Jordan Shipley)
On Tecomate's various social media platforms, Shipley described – in between an adequate signal for mobile phone service – what had happened.
"We took it to the wire in Montana," indicated Shipley. "It doesn't get any better than a spot-and-stalk hunt with the bow.
"We battled 100-degree heat in Montana for six days in the dust and cactus," he added. "But on the last morning, an ancient mulie read the script and closed to within 35 yards where the Hoyt (compound bow) did its job."While the buck appears to be a high-scoring 4X4 typical that should easily surpass the Pope & Young Club's minimum entry score of 145 inches net for a typical mule deer, Shipley was as much – or even more – impressed with the old age of the animal."There was hardly a tooth left in his head; this deer had seen a lot of sunrises," said Shipley.After more than two weeks of hard hunting in the plains of Kansas and the foothills of eastern Montana, Shipley indicated that it was time to retreat back to Texas to rest and regroup for the next adventure."We're heading back to San Antonio … need some sleep," he said.
Because there's plenty more fall big game hunting action – and some great filming work to boot – left on the season to-do list for Team Tecomate.
Editor's Note: To see pictures, hunt details and to keep up with the latest travels of the Team Tecomate crew this fall, visit their social media platforms at www.facebook.com/tecomate (Facebook) and @TecomateWS (Twitter).