Young hunter bags big buck
At 16, Tom Batie already has quite the hunting story: The first deer he ever shot was a trophy buck.
Tom, of Mukilteo, shot a trophy buck on Oct. 13, opening day of deer season in Washington state. It was his first deer and only his second time hunting big game. He hit it at 175 yards.
The mule deer had a 30.25-inch spread. A spread of more than 30 inches between the tips of the antlers is considered a trophy.
“To have my first buck be a trophy is just really awesome,” he said. “I was really proud. It was really cool.”
The deer tag on his hunting license allowed him to shoot just one male deer, or buck. He filled his tag the first day of the season.
“It’s a lot of luck,” said Kathy Batie, his mom. “You’ve got to be in the right place at the right time.”
“And he’s also a really good shot. He shot it right in the heart. He was just dead on.”
Tom, a junior at Kamiak High School, has gone hunting with his dad since he was 12 years old. Mostly he’d hunt duck or geese. He went deer hunting last year, too, but had no luck.
This year, Tom went hunting on opening day with his dad and a family friend on their friend’s farm near Vantage in Eastern Washington. They didn’t see any deer until that afternoon.
After lunch, his dad’s friend shot a buck that ran out of some trees. He went to retrieve it. Tom was about to go help, when he and his dad heard more rustling in the trees.
They waited for 10 minutes.
Then, suddenly, another buck ran out into the clearing. Tom quickly found it on his scope and shot it with his rifle from 175 yards away.
“It was an instant shot,” Tom said. “It happened in like a second. It was really fast.”
The mule deer, named for its large mule-like ears, is indigenous to the Rocky Mountain region.
Mule deer have an average height of 36.5 inches at the shoulders and a nose-to-tail length ranging from 3.9 to 6.9 feet. Adult bucks weigh an average 200 pounds, although trophy deer may weigh up to 460 pounds.
Tom’s deer had four points on each antler and weighed 300 pounds.
His dad, Bob Batie, said it is rare to get a trophy like that. He said Tom may never see a deer in that class again. He said hunters will pay $5,000-$10,000 to hunt a deer as big as Tom’s.
“It’s a really huge deer,” Kathy Batie said. “When my husband took it to the meat company … they just couldn’t believe it.”
Tom tagged along on hunting trips with his dad since he was 8, and started hunting with his own rifle four years ago.
For this trip, Tom practiced with his new 22 caliber rifle and a scope at a local range until he could shoot three bullets into a target that were within one square inch of each other from 160-175 yards away. It didn’t take him very long.
“It came along pretty quick,” Tom said, who shot his first gun at age 7. “I went to the range and picked it up from other guys and read online for tips and practiced for a while.”
Bob Batie who has been hunting for 30 years, said his son is a better shot than he is: Tom stays calm, breathes right and keeps aim.
“He’s been a good shot since he was little kid,” Bob Batie said. “He can outshoot me, that’s for sure.”
The Baties now have 250 pounds of venison in their freezer. Tom and his dad had steaks recently, and made some pepperoni. His mom prefers chicken.
Tom is getting a European mount made, which is just of the skull and antlers. It will be a starting point for the story he will tell of the time he shot the trophy buck. He should get the mount by Thanksgiving.
“It’s an unusual thing for a city kid,” Kathy Batie said. “It’s a big accomplishment for him.
“He’s kind of a hero at school. Kids are like, ‘Wow, I’ve hunted a few times, but I’ve never seen anything like that.’”
Next, Tom said, is elk season, which opens Oct. 27. He’s never shot an elk before.
“If we get one,” he said, “we’ll probably have to get another freezer.”