John’s Note: Eva Shockey can’t remember a time that she wasn’t around hunting. Eva’s mother, Louise Shockey, was a ballerina. Following her mother’s lead, during the early part of her life, Eva leaned heavily toward dance. She was a ballerina, she competed in ballroom dancing, and she taught dance. She went on hunts with her dad, well-known outdoorsman Jim Shockey, but never really wanted to take an animal until she was in her early 20s. Today, she’s one of the most recognized lady hunters in the hunting industry. She co-hosts “Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures” (www.jimshockey.com) TV show and hunts all over the world with and without her dad.
Another problem we had on this Saskatchewan deer hunt was warm weather. Although warm weather makes bowhunting comfortable for the hunter, deer don’t like to move during warm weather, which makes hunting much more difficult. I generally wear a warm Mossy Oak (www.mossyoak.com) Break Up Infinity jacket, Mossy Oak Treestand pants and maybe two or three layers of clothes. But on this hunt, I hunted in a t-shirt. However, on day nine, when we woke up to go hunting, there was snow on the ground. Too, the wind was coming from the north bringing a cold front. We saw some little bucks that morning, but we didn’t see the buck we were after. We were really excited that afternoon when we arrived at our blind to hunt for the big buck. We finally had the right wind to hunt from the stand where the big buck was coming in, showing up usually at 6:00 pm. In Saskatchewan, we can shoot until 6:20 pm. So, we went to our stand 1-1/2-hours earlier than usual.
At 5:00 pm, the big buck walked out, and we all got excited. If the buck came within shooting range, we knew we’d have plenty of good shooting light to make an effective shot.
The buck came in from the left side of the blind. Wojo spotted the buck coming through the forest first. For 10 minutes, we watched the buck weave in and out of the trees. We got good footage of the buck walking toward our blind, but then the buck vanished for about 10 minutes. We thought the buck was trying to walk around our blind to attempt to wind us. I don’t know where he went, or what he did, but we saw him again about 10 minutes later.
To add more pressure on the hunt, because the buck was coming from the left side, our cameraman couldn’t get a good angle to photograph the buck as he moved. I had at least two places where I could’ve taken a shot at 20 yards or less. However, because the cameraman couldn’t get the shot, I couldn’t take my shot.
When we’re trying to film a TV show, all the rules of hunting are different. The hunter is no longer in charge of the hunt. The cameraman is in charge of the hunt. He makes the decision to shoot or not to shoot, based on what he’s seeing through the view finder of the video camera. I whispered to the cameraman, “I think I’ve missed my opportunity to take the buck.” But finally, the buck got broadside at 23 yards. When I had that big buck within bow range, I’d never been so excited in all my life. I told my fiancé, Tim Brent, that having that buck at 23 yards was as exciting as the night he asked me to marry him and gave me a ring. I guess that really wasn’t a nice thing to say, but I was wired-up emotional.
“Once I saw that buck coming, I knew I was too excited to take the shot.
So, as the buck kept getting closer and closer, I started deep yoga breathing to try and calm myself down. I started thinking out loud, “Calm down like Tim would.” Tim is a very-calm person. When the pressure is on, he has the ability to really calm himself down. Tim is a professional ice hockey player. He’s been in a lot of close games where he’s calmed his emotions down and focused on the job he’s had to do. When the deer was in close, before I took the shot, I started telling myself, “Pretend that this shot doesn’t really matter. Pretend this is just another shot you’re taking with your bow in the backyard at a target.” As the deer moved closer, I did a pretty good job of calming down. Later, I told my dad, “When that buck was at 23 yards, I thought I was going to faint.”
The buck put his head down, and I drew my bow. When his head came up, the buck’s whole body seemed to be one brown blur, as I looked at him through my peep sight. This buck was huge. I was so excited, and everything was so perfect. I remembered all the days we had sat in the blind but seen nothing, and all the pressure I was under. Luckily, all the muscle memory and years of practice took over. I aimed and made a perfect shot. As I watched the arrow in flight, I saw the buck drop down to jump (jump the string). So, my arrow hit about an inch higher than I was aiming, but I still made a double-lung shot. When the buck took the arrow, he went about 25 yards before he went out of sight in the woods, but we were able to hear him fall. Even as excited as I was, we stayed in the blind for another 20 minutes, before we went to blood trail the deer.
The year before, I was hunting out of the same blind with my dad. I had shot a buck, but I didn’t make a perfect shot on him. But this time I felt the adrenaline racing through my body. Even though I made an effective shot, and the deer went down within 50 yards, I still hadn’t made a perfect shot. While we were sitting in the blind, I got nervous. I began to think maybe the shot hadn’t been as good as I thought it was, but Wojo kept reassuring me that I had made a good shot on the deer. So, when we finally left the blind to follow the blood trail, I was very excited.
Once I saw that big buck on the ground, I completely broke down and started crying. All the emotion of the previous 9 days hit me at once. I realized how hard we had worked, and we had accomplished our mission. I looked up and Wojo, who is as tough as my dad and one of the best hunters I know, had a tear in his eye too. We were both so excited and so emotional. This moment in time was one I’ll never forget.
As I tried to get control of my emotions, I felt a feeling of pride. We all had worked as hard as we could to take this buck and to capture the hunt on video for television. Every day we checked the wind, and we checked the weather. I’d shoot my bow to make sure my bow was on, and that I could shoot accurately. I tried to make sure I was mentally prepared before the hunt. Then I thought about my dad not being there to see how well our team had done. I was dealing with a lot of emotion. To finally see and believe that we had done everything right and to see that all our hard work had paid off with a great hunt that we could share with our viewers caused a flood of emotion that I couldn’t describe. The buck rough-scored 165 and had some of the biggest antlers I’d ever seen. The biggest buck I had seen before I took this buck scored 154.
To learn more about deer hunting, you can get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks and some print books, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” (John’s latest book), “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” and “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” or to prepare venison, get “Deer & Fixings.” Click here to get these books.