If you were in Wisconsin when the season opened about a month ago, then your inbox was probably full of these pictures of a particularly magnificent Mars Sturbuck. From the Bois Brule River Valley, Garrett and Jim Shear explore how this happened with a 180″ P&Y buck. It might come as a surprise, but hunters don’t have to wait till rut to take a beautiful, mature, Boone and Crockett, Pope and Young class buck. Jim is the vice president of Clinic Services at Reedsburg Hospital and Garrett works for the Department of Natural Resources for the state of Iowa. Jim is the son of Harry Shear who helped get me started hunting out west and Garret is his grandson. Learn how one could harvest magnificent P&Y class bucks even before the rut season!
This is a special episode for me to bring you because we’re heading back to the Baraboo River Valley where I first hunted whitetails some 50 years ago, and we’re going to visit with Jim and Garrett Shear. Jim is the son of Harry Shear who helped get me started hunting out Weston. Garret is his grandson. Jim is the Vice President of Clinic Services at Reedsburg Hospital and Garrett works for the Department of Natural Resources for the State of Iowa. These guys know whitetail hunting. They are good at it. This special show is for Garrett because he took a 180 class whitetail with his bow on the farm they’ve been hunting since Garrett was a little kid.
Listen to the podcast here:
180″ P&Y With Garrett & Jim Shear
We’re going to a pretty special place for me. In 1966, I started hunting the same farm with these guys you’re going to meet. Garrett Shear works with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and his dad, Jim Shear is the Vice President of Clinic Services at Reedsburg Hospital. Gentlemen, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having us, Hutch. It’s good to hear from you.
When the season opened in Wisconsin, all of a sudden, my inbox is full of these pictures of just mature buck. I guess the neighbors had been calling him Mr. Magnificent. Garrett, just bring up to speed how that happened and let’s backfill that so people understand, they don’t have to wait until rut to take a beautiful, mature, Boone and Crockett, Pope and Young class buck.
We always think that opening weekend is a good time to get on a deer when they’re in their natural patterns. They haven’t been pushed by anyone or anything. It’s a time where they still feel safe and they’re still running on day light hours and they haven’t moved over to more nocturnal lifestyle. Opening weekend is always a good time for any time to set up on a big buck. For me, I have a stand that we put in about a two or three years ago. It was actually just below our house on the farm that we hunt and we were down. I was down on that stand and we had a place between an island out on the field that pushes the deer within 40 yards of the stand that we have there. It really makes for a nice shot. I shot it on the Sunday of opening weekend.
The night before, I saw about 30 deer from the stand. I had about 15 of them come within shooting range. I passed five pretty nice bucks, little baskets. One probably would have scored in 130 maybe, but they kept looking over their shoulder and I had this natural instincts that they were spooked by something behind them, but nothing happened. On Saturday night, the same thing happened. The deer, their patterns. Five same bucks came out all at the exact same sequence. Right behind them came this monster and I had about five or ten seconds with it out in the field before I took the shot. Luckily, I didn’t have to think about it for too long. I made a good, clean shot on it. It ran about 70 yards and I found it in a ditch right above Lester’s farm. It was a good hunt.
Let’s do the backfill because pictures don’t lie. Have you scored it yet? Has it dried out the 60-day period?
No. It hasn’t dried out the 60-day period. We had a preliminary run through it with a tape measure. We got to 180-inch gross, there’s obviously going to be deductions on it. I think we had 176 and five-eighths for the net. Those numbers will probably go down a little bit, but we’re pretty confident it’s going to be a Boone and Crockett buck.
When you listen to a show and go to my website, you will see the buck. His brow tines are what? Six inches?
A seven-inch brow tines.
He’s got one little cheater coming off the left side on a G3 and everything else is very symmetrical. It’s got mass. How old the buck do you think it was?
We think it’s about a six and a half year old buck. The nose on it is very, very long. The deer weighed about 300 pounds undressed. It was a real big deer. We’ve actually had a neighbor shot it the year before with a bow and obviously didn’t recover it, but then it came out for us. They thought it was about five and a half last year, I think it’s six and a half.
It’s just a magnificent buck. I ran some numbers at Boone and Crockett, Pope and Young, it’s just astronomical odds that are against you taking a buck like that. What’s your thoughts on that?
I feel lucky. Our family does a good job of managing for a deer like that and it was just a matter of time before someone took a big buck off of that property. I’ve got cousins and uncles and everyone that comes out there and we make sure that we’re taking the right deer out of the herd to facilitate something like that. I feel lucky. I was at the right place, the right time. It was a visible deer. We’ve seen it underneath some apple trees in our yard and neighbors all around our area have it on trail cam. He could’ve been in any field that night, but luckily, he came in front of me at 32 yards.
Did he come off the sanctuary to the east of the farm?
He came off of Meyer’s. It would have been the pasture towards the west side. He came off that edge there and we have our stand setup. He’ll be coming within 40 yards of my stand and got them at 32. He stopped right in one of my shooting lanes and he had no idea we were there. We have a really good cover for the stand. It worked out really well.
Meyer’s place is about a quarter mile?
It’s about a quarter mile.
Was he with other bucks or with the bachelor group or was he just out for feed?
He was with other deer. I think he was with that group of five, but I also think there was another big eight pointer that was running with him that was actually harvested the other week. It’s 155 to 160-inch deer that was with him. He was the big one, but he was running with some other sizable deer.
Jim, let’s talk about the hunting tradition and why Garrett was able to close the deal on Mr. Magnificent.
Our whole family, our parents hunted ever since I can remember. I know you know my dad well and he started us off very young. I have two brothers, Gary and Marv, that I know you know and we’ve always been a family that hunted. Marv got us into bowhunting several years ago and then my boys, Ryan and Garrett started hunting with me when Garrett was actually eight and Ryan was ten. They went on their first deer drive with us.
It was a great story and I ended up shooting back in those days, a nice eight–pointer and over by Butler’s, which I know you know that area too. That was their first experience. Every fall, it’s a huge tradition for our family to get together and we start bowhunting in the middle of September. We bowhunt or gun hunt just about every weekend through December. It’s a big part of our family. The highlight for me every fall is when the boys come home and bowhunt. This weekend, both my boys are here and Marv and his boys are here and we’re all bowhunting. It’s a great time.
Let’s talk about your dad, Harry Shear, because I’ve got fond memories of Harry and how he helped me get into hunting for sure. Let’s talk about what Harry passed on to you, Jim, and then hand over to Garrett so he can answer the same question.
One of the things that I was reminiscing about with Garrett was my dad was not only an avid hunter, but he was a hunter safety instructor for many years. He was our hunter safety instructor for all five of us kids. My two brothers and both of my sisters all went through hunter safety and that was very important to him. I believe we are good hunters. We’re obviously safe hunters and stuff like that. He really taught us a lot. I remember the days when he would take all five of kids out and we each would have to carry a squirrel.
We always have kidded, that’s why he had five kids was to carry each one of the squirrels. It was a lot of fun. I remember squirrel hunting with my sisters, back when we were ten, twelve years old and stuff. He really got us started and I think like you, he got a lot of people started in hunting and you mentioned out west hunting. Gary and I just got back as a matter of fact from a Wyoming hunt, antelope. That was his last hunt. Last fall, hunting antelope with us and one of the things that Garrett and I were reminiscing, Garrett was with him when my dad took his final shot at an antelope. It was a great experience and something that we won’t forget.
Garrett, we’re going to talk about what Harry, your grandfather shared with you and how he helped set the stage for your whole family for hunting.
The memories that I have of hunting with my grandpa to start where squirrel hunting. We used to go out. My grandpa had 40 acres all by Hillsboro that we used to squirrel hunt quite a bit and going out with him and teaching us to be quiet and be patient or not fiddling with our gloves and stuff. We’re keeping our eyes up looking for animals and stuff. We’ve been on countless gear drives with him. He’s the person that taught us the lay of the land, where we need to stand here because the deer like to run through this area or we really shouldn’t be pushing this direction.
You learn about the lay of the land from people that have done it for years and they have great experience from that. I would say the most memorable one is probably being out in Wyoming with my grandpa in that final shot at a doe. That was a great experience. A lot of our cousins and family were there again. It’s just one of those things that you don’t really get the whole family together unless you’ve got some activity and the hunting is that activity for us and it’s been important to us. I think my grandpa was the one that instilled that in us and has passed it down from generation to generation.
The thing I remember of Pat and Harry, your grandmother hunted right alongside of him.
She’s got pictures of me sitting on the front step of their house holding two squirrels. I actually found that when I was looking for a photo from my dad and stuff like that. They’d be watching us for a day, my brother and I and my grandpa would just turn us loose with a .22 and say be careful. Go out there and get some squirrels. We would go out and squirrel hunting and we learned a lot from my grandpa and learned a lot out there in the woods. We learned how to be quiet and be patient. It was an important learning experience for us and luckily our grandparents were there to teach us.You learn about the lay of the land from people that have done it for years and they have great experience from that. Click To Tweet
The first time I ever hunted out with your family. First opening day, 1966, your grandmother took the only buck. There was four of us or five of us hunting and she took the only buck and we’re all looking at ourselves, “What’s up with us?” Just to see her, just enjoy it as much as the guys. They had that type of relationship.
My cousin, Nikki, shot her first deer with a bow. She killed her first buck. It was a really nice fifteen-pointer. The tradition gets passed down on both the male and the female side of our family. It’s not gender-based. We all get that treatment and we all get the exposure to hunting.
Garrett, if some people out there in the Whitetail Rendezvous world want to get a hold of you, what’s the best way to reach you on social media?
You can reach me on Facebook. My name is Garrett Shear. If you want to look me up, I would be happy to reach out or to get back to you.
You’re not on Twitter or Instagram?
I’m not on Twitter or Instagram now.
Your father’s instilled a lot of lessons learned into you and we’re going to get talking about the strategy, but let’s just share a little bit of what your dad has shared with you so now you’re in the conservation business.
We’ve been working on our properties for a long time. I think that it comes down to herd management as much as property management to really get a Boone and Crockett buck like the one that we shot this year. It takes a lot of work. My dad instilled that into me working on the property and getting everything ready for hunting season. My dad will go out and rake trails for us to get into our stands. We got a lot of things that go into our hunting. A lot of the things that he’s taught me is the way to act while hunting. Be quiet, be patient. When you’re getting into your stand, you’re hurrying but you aren’t being loud. When I was twelve years old, I used to get walked to the stand because I didn’t know where I was going. He’d be like, “Pick up your feet, quit messing with that tree,” or anything like that. That’s the stuff that he’s helped me with. Without that, I don’t think that I would have even been in a tree stand or had an opportunity to take a buck of a lifetime.
Jim, when you look at your boys, Ryan and Garrett, how they’re carrying on your hunting tradition, what does that mean to you as a dad?
It really makes me proud and it gives us a great reason to spend more time together. My best times are when they’re able to come home and we’re generally doing something outdoors, whether preparing food plots or working on tree stands or just shooting, whether it be the rifles or whether it be the bows, when you take time to do all that. I consider them my best friend. When they’re home, it’s a highlight for me. One of the things I talk a lot about is respect. Respect the animals, respect property owners, respect each other.
We all have great days like Garrett had when he shot that buck, and there’s other days you’re not so good when you might wound the animal and you track it. The worst feeling is to hit an animal and not being able to find it. Fortunately, our family has not done that a lot, but anybody who spends any time hunting knows this is going to happen. Respect is really important and respecting nature. You mentioned Garrett’s current job with the Iowa DNR and he taught me so much about the outdoors as far as native species of shrubs and trees. I’ve learned a lot from him in the last several years with his education and his work. I remember back when I wouldn’t listen to my dad about how he would teach us about trees and stuff and now I realize how important all that is. It’s important altogether.
Pass it back to Garrett because I want him to talk about what he’s doing at the Iowa DNR.
I worked for the Iowa DNR River Program. Our job is mostly working with river restoration and trying to improve water quality. Really trying to manage erosion mostly on rivers. Through that we learned a lot about corridors and how to plant. You realize how interconnected all the environment is to one another when you have these native species. It brings back more native populations of animals, which in turn around or what deer were used to back before pre-European settlement, where everything has been turned into farmland. That’s what the deer, they lived in before that. Working with things like that really makes you understand that there’s a lot of connections going on.
If you can bring it back to a more natural setting, the deer are going to respond to that. Food plots are important. I think that agriculture around us especially is very important for the deer. They feed largely on corn and soybeans around us and alfalfa. I think it’s important. In those inner interstitial areas where between those, having native species, I think is important and that’s something that I’ve really taken away from my education is that we want to keep everything as natural as possible, which is going to be more beneficial towards not only deer, but all wildlife really.
One thing, the more you become a 365 whitetail hunter, the more you’re going to learn about the flora and fauna. The critters and what they eat and coverage and all the things that impact where you hunt. When you become one with your land, you understand the habits and you will become better hunters. Garrett, let’s switch it up and go to the management of the herd. I remember a long time ago, I’m looking at a picture that’s 50 years old and I’m in the back of an old international pickup truck at the farm. We got six bucks there, but they’re all basket bucks. Now, year after year, we’re seeing more and more larger bucks. Why did that happen?
We’ve been starting to manage pretty early, I would say, into the idea of managing the herd. I remember when I first started hunting, the idea was don’t shoot anything that’s inside of the ears. Anything that’s inside of the ears, you can’t shoot, anything that’s outside of the ears, you can. Which isn’t really a good management practice because you’re not allowing the deer to mature. You’re probably taking out a lot of two and a half year old that would be really a good deer in a year or two.
I think the management practice of the herd really has started to go from how wide the antlers are to how old the deer is which I think are really important steps to allow us to get more mature deer around. I give great credit to my dad and uncles for that. They’ve done a really wonderful job doing that and giving the next generation an opportunity to take deer that they would have never seen 20 or 30 years ago. These deer that you see, everyone standing around a few spike bucks and everyone’s pretty happy and now we passed five bucks, no problem, and wait for something that’s age-appropriate. It’s going to have a lot more mass, be a bigger deer and it’s going to be better for the herd.Respect the animals, respect property owners, respect each other. Click To Tweet
We shoot a lot of mature does as well. We try and take mature does. Where we hunt there’s a private lake property across the way and they have a lot of does and it’s also basically a sanctuary for them over there. We think it’s important to take does as well as bucks, which helps us increase the amount of how hard the deer rut. For a few years we were really losing out on the rut because the deer just didn’t have to chase because there were so many does around. There’s no reason for it. Things like that we’re starting to learn and adapt to where we are. I think that’s a big improvement. Honestly, that deer was twenty years in the making to take on that property. It wasn’t like we just started doing something last year or two years ago. It took a while.
Let’s shift it back to Jim and let’s talk about sets. Let’s talk about setups both with trail cameras and with your stance.
We generally point the trails cams out early spring. Garrett mentioned trying to those funnels where we’re pretty confident deer are moving through. I think that it’s really important to understand the property, the lay of it and where the pinch point that deer may travel. Then also, the food plots. Generally, we’re hoping that the deer are eating that. We’re putting trail cams on the food plots. I like to experiment a lot with the food plots. I’m trying a lot of different things, your basic corn but now, probably about August, I put in a food plot with turnips and they’re just now coming up and it’s a great food source for winter. I dig down and get to those turnips.
Then placing them where those pinch points are at or near the food plots where the deer congregate once the corn and soybeans are gone for the fall. I think it’s really important to know your property, understand where the deer is traveling, where the food is at, and try to strategically put your cameras in those areas where you can get great pictures. It’s fun because you’ll see all the different bucks on the cameras, but then you also see the turkeys and the coyotes and the raccoons and stuff. I just enjoy seeing what’s on the property with the use of the trail cams.
One thing I knew a few years back, I saw pretty pair of wolves. Are the wolves still near in the area or is it just coyotes now?
We’ve seen a few coyotes. I know that there is a suspicion that wolves are at least nearby. Nobody’s really caught anything on trail cams or anything like that. I know we mentioned our neighbors also have trail cams and stuff out. Nobody’s reported that they got anything or seeing wolves. There certainly is a suspicion. I know one of the neighbors mentioned that while he was trying to get to a stand that he heard something very close to him that he thought it was a wolf also. He couldn’t really see it. We know in the general area of this county, certainly there are wolves that are moving in because northern Wisconsin has been decimated between their weather, hard winters and wolves and stuff. They’re definitely migrating to the South.
The reason I bring that up is that when you have a surplus of does as they do above the Baraboo River, predators will come in and then we’ll move on and it comes back to what Garrett had said about keeping a balance herd and predators help to a point and then they keep going. They tip the scale to the wrong way and Garrett and Jim and all the Shear family had spent twenty years building herd. They’re getting world class deer free ranging on the farm. It’s a success story and what we have to do. I think Eddie mentioned some guys came in last winter and shot a bunch of coyotes, which is important.
As a matter of fact, it was funny because after Garrett shot his buck, I walked him to the house to help get it out. As I was coming back, there was a coyote that was leaning in the alfalfa probably within 50 yards of where he was. I fully expected that coyote is going to hit that gut pile as soon as we got out of there. We’re out this morning and saw a couple of coyotes. There are quite a few around and you’re absolutely right, I think that’s a part of the management. If you come across carcasses of deer, you got to be careful of what you’re shooting because you can certainly tip it the wrong way and all of a sudden, we’re back to the old days where you’re lucky to see decent deer. Predators are always on our mind. I’m not a coyote hunter myself but I know that people take the opportunity to take them out when they do see them.
What I’d like to talk about is just how you decide how to play the wind. Do you have like a map of all your stands with the wind direction so when you got up at 4:30 or the night before, when you check the weather, you know the wind’s going to be X that you decide. How do you organize that? You’ve got a lot of places to hunt there.
Wind plays a very important part of being scent-free. We do go to great lengths to stay scent-free but there’s nothing that can ruin the hunt more than the wind. We do have stands and we’re paying attention to the wind. Some stands don’t get used very often because it’s only good during a northern wind. We have others that are perfect for south or southwest winds. We use those a little bit more. I’m sure we’ll go out, we got a little bit of southwest wind and so we’ll use stands that are appropriate for that such of a wind. We do have a lot of stands and that’s exactly why is because some are not appropriate for the type of wind we have.
The brothers have a 160, that is west of where you guys are. How much time do you spend hunting that in? Is that good a quality place to hunt?
It absolutely is. We obtained that property several years ago. We immediately started to manage it. It’s got a lot of ridges, some real large brushy bowls and then it’s also got a stream running through it. We’ve been putting food plots in for several years and now we have a German Baptist family farming some of the property. We’ve got everything we need on that property to contain the deer. I don’t get to hunt there as often as I like because work gets it the way the way once a while, but Gary, the brother has trail cams over there and we’ve got pictures of a lot of quality bucks. There’s certain area on that property that we do not go into under any condition unless we’ve got the one that we’re tracking. I think it’s important to give them areas where they’re comfortable. We encourage people not to walk through it unless they have to. That is truly a success story of management and really putting in the work and the knowledge to grow some quality bucks.
Garrett can give some shout outs and then you too Jim and then we’ll call it a show.The worst feeling is to hit an animal and not being able to find it. Click To Tweet
A big shout out to my dad and brother for helping me grab that deer. When we were tracking it, my brother was the voice of reason. I was ready to go look for it that night and he said something that big, you just got to let it lay and have its time. It was a dead deer moment after I shot it. It went about 70 yards, but my brother was the voice of reason to stay out there and not pressure it. My dad obviously helped me find it. He was the one that first saw it. A big shout out to them and then, just all my family in general, cousins and uncles who I get to spend time with and have a beer with after the hunt and talk about what we saw and tell our stories and lots of laughs. We get lots of joy coming from them. That’s who I would say most my shout out goes to.
As Garrett said, the family is really important. We’re a hunting group ourselves. I also have some friends at work that I’ve gotten to know the last few years that are great hunters too. Bob and Barry at work and then another really good friend of ours. A good friend and the whole family is Todd Anderson down in Illinois. He’s a Wisconsin guy. We spend a lot of time with him hunting, too. We’re fortunate that we have some great people to spend time with and our family, the Rogers family, they’re all avid hunters. We’ve grow up in a tradition of hunting and not just hunting, the whole outdoor experience. We have a great area where we live where we can do a lot of things outdoors, whether it’s hunting or preparing land or fishing or whatever.
Thanks so much, Garrett and Jim Shear from Wisconsin along the Baraboo River. I’ve got so many memories about spending time with you guys and your family and the extended family. I just wanted to thank you for having me along for the ride. On behalf of Whitetail Rendezvous listeners across North America, thank you gentlemen for being on the show.
Thank you, Hutch. Take care.