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2012-07-13 / Features


By Jean Cole
HTF Editor

Have you ever received one of those phone calls, emails, or text messages that proclaim you’ve won a sweepstakes and some incredible prize, but it was just a bunch of nonsense?

Well, Steve Peterson of rural Biwabik received a message like that one night on his answering machine in June of 2011, telling him he was one of three finalists in the Jackie Bushman Buckmasters’ Big Bucks Sweepstakes Contest. Peterson had actually entered the contest on their website, so he thought maybe, just maybe, there might be something to it.

The next day, Peterson spoke with a representative from Bushman’s production department who interviewed him for the contest. “They asked me some crazy questions,” he said. “They asked me if I was a convicted felon. If I snored. If I spoke Spanish. And, they asked me what kind of underwear I wore.”

After he answered all those questions, and more, they told him he was “in.” The odds of winning the sweepstakes were 1 in 112,000. “They started calling me as ‘Lucky No.5’ because I was the fifth person to ever win this hunting trip.”

Hunters, l. to r.: Jackie Bushman, Michael Waddel, Travis "T-Bone" Turner, and Steve Peterson. 
Photo Submitted Hunters, l. to r.: Jackie Bushman, Michael Waddel, Travis "T-Bone" Turner, and Steve Peterson. Photo Submitted He learned that not only would he be hunting with the famous Jackie Bushman (the Jackie Bushman Show, Outdoor Channel) but that outdoor celebs Michael Waddell and Travis “T-bone” Turner, co-hosts of the Bone Collector (also on the Outdoor Channel) would be there as well.

It was a trip of a lifetime for an avid whitetail deer hunter. The venue was Las Moras Ranch in Ciudad Acuna, in the Mexican state of Coahuila, just the other side of the U.S.-Mexico border near Del Rio, Texas. The dates were December 14-22, 2011, so Peterson had six months to anticipate the hunt.

Aside from the hunting trip itself, Peterson also got some hunting-related goodies. “I never knew what was going to arrive [at his house] next,” he said. Gifts included a Remington rifle, a Nikon scope, Danner boots, and some Realtree Scent-Lok clothing.

His departing flight left Duluth with connections in Minneapolis, Houston, and ending in Del Rio. From there it was about a 45 minute drive to the 37,000 acre ranch where he would spend the next nine days. He arrived in the morning. “It was very nice, really nice accommodations. Very highly managed,” he said.

After getting settled in, the first order of business was sighting in his rifle. It turned out that Peterson didn’t get to use his new Remington, because the company discontinued their sponsorship. So, “I had to use Jackie Bushman’s rifle.”

His entourage included a guide, Jerry, who was a service manager for a car dealer ship in Del Rio, and a camera man, Chris. There were a lot of photos and video shot during the trip. “Sometimes it would take two hours just to set up a shot,” said Peterson, shaking his head.

Peterson would be allowed to shoot two deer that were five years old or older. How do you tell how old a deer is? “I had one in my sights, but my guide said, ‘No, that is a four-and-a-half-year old.’ The next day, we saw another, and the guide said, ‘Okay, that is a five-year old.’ And, you really could tell the difference. It was amazing.”

The terrain was flat and dry with a lot of low scrub brush. They shot from a box blind in a stand. “You wouldn’t think there’d be a deer around for miles,” said Peterson. “But there was a ravine there, which they traveled through.”

There was no shooting the first day, but

by the morning of the third day Peterson had bagged an eight-pointer. By the afternoon of the fourth day, he found success with a 10-pointer – the largest buck he’d ever shot, horn-wise.

“It’s totally different than hunting around here,” said Peterson. “Here, you’re lucky if you see a couple of deer during the season. There, it’s a slow day if you only see four to five bucks and half a dozen does. You get to see a lot of deer, look at them for a long time, make your decision. Here, you have to make that decision in a few seconds.”

Sometimes he would hear a rustle in the shrubs, think it was a deer, and out would walk a longhorn. Which makes sense, as they were on a cattle ranch of the largest cattle producer in Mexico.

A couple of times Peterson was ready to take a shot and the cameraman would say, “Wait!” so he could get some filming done, and then give his permission with an “Okay!” “There really is no pressure [on the hunter] to speak of,” said Peterson.

The weather was sometimes drizzly with temperatures in the 40s to 50s; one day it was in the 70s. Their schedule was the same each day: hunt in the morning, come in for breakfast, hunt in the afternoon, come in for dinner. Then “we’d sit around, everyone would tell stories, shop talk, hunting stuff.” They watched TV and napped.

“It was really fun to sit around the fire, listening to them [Bushman, Waddell, and T-bone] talk,” said Peterson. “I didn’t say too much. What are you gonna say? Those guys have been around the world.” P eterson said the value of the hunt alone was $7500, not including airfare. “Those trips cost anywhere from $3600 to $10,000,” he said. “Guests can shoot as many deer as they want, they just have to keep writing checks.”

Hunting season in Minnesota is just around the corner, and Peterson, he said, “is always ready.”

On Buckmasters:

On The Jackie Bushman Show:

Wednesday, July 18, 9 a.m. (EST)
Thursday, July 19, 2 p.m.(EST)
Saturday, July 21, 9 a.m. (EST)
Wednesday, Oct. 17, 9 a.m. (EST)
Thursday, Oct. 18, 2 p.m. (EST)
Saturday, Oct. 20, 9 a.m. (EST)

Friday, Aug. 10, 12 a.m. (EST)
Sunday, Aug. 12, 1:30 p.m. (EST)
Sunday, Aug. 12, 10 p.m. (EST)
Friday, Nov. 9, 12 a.m. (EST)
Sunday, Nov. 11, 1:30 p.m. (EST)
Sunday, Nov. 11, 10 p.m. (EST)

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