I first met Grant Calloway and his father Gary at Golden Triangle Whitetails (www.goldentrianglewhitetails.com) in western Illinois two seasons ago. It’s always refreshing to see a young hunter getting an opportunity to hunt with his father. Gary started taking Grant along on deer hunts when he was 5 and Grant shot his first deer with a bow when he was only 8. In 2005, at the age of 10, Gary took Grant to Illinois for the chance at a true “Land of Lincoln” whitetail. On the last day with only two minutes of shooting light left Grant’s wish came true. Here’s the encounter in Grant’s words.
“Until the last morning of the last I only saw three does. My guide came and got me and took me to a different stand and immediately the deer started coming. They were everywhere. I even got a chance to see a 15-point buck, but passed him because he was only a 2-year-old. I saw the guide’s truck coming to pick me up when a giant stepped into the field. I pulled up the gun and fired. It took four hits to kill this 11-point monster, scoring 166. All this happened in the last two minutes of the day.”
My appreciation for the young hunter was short-lived. You see, in 2006 he shot a buck I hunted and filmed all morning during the opening day of the Illinois shotgun season. The story goes like this.
I had been bowhunting for several days prior to the firearms opener and saw several good bucks, but none within bow range. I was ready to pop one and excited about the Illinois firearm opener and going into the field with a muzzleloader. A cameraman tagged along and at sunrise we spotted a mature buck chasing a doe. He was a brute that I field-judged at more than 160 inches with very identifiable forked G2 tines like a mule deer. After an hour or so the buck and doe moved up the ridge, presumably to bed. That evening we waited again for the giant to appear, but no such luck and we returned to camp.
As I described the buck to head guide Randy Grawe he looked at me questioningly and directed me to the corner of the barn where several good bucks were being admired by the hunters in camp. There, hanging in the corner was the buck I watched. His forked G2s were too identifiable and I watched him for too long through my spotting scope not to recognize him. You guessed it. Grant Calloway shot the buck, but I’ll let him tell the story.
“In 2006 we went back to Golden Triangle and were so excited to see what the three-day season was to bring. The first day Mark Kayser was filming a giant 10-point buck that was on a hot doe. It was early in the morning and I had passed one really nice 8-point buck and a decent 10. I was only three fields over when the same buck that Mr. Mark was filming came out chasing a hot doe. The deer stopped at 150 yards and I missed. Staring in awe that I had just missed the biggest buck of my life I turned around to see the same buck running at 100 yards. I picked up the gun and shot, and missed. I had one shell left and the deer was still running for his life, and was leaving the field when I fired the last shot. The monster 10-point, 168-inch buck rolled over right there. This was the best day of my life. When I got back to camp Mr. Mark had just seen the deer and came over to congratulate me.”
Hey if someone is going to best you it might as well be an enthusiastic young hunter. So how did Grant do in 2007? He had to lower his standards a bit, but he still managed to take a great-looking 10-pointer grossing nearly 140 inches. I can’t wait to hear tales of his 2008 season. Way to go Grant!—Mark Kayser