To say the Truck-Buck Shoot-Out will test the nerves of contestants and the audience is a bit of an understatement. Just ask the wife of one Shoot-Out contestant, who said every time her husband stepped up on the stage for a shot she was so nauseous she thought she was literally going to get sick.
The drama is real when there’s a brand-new Chevy Silverado 4×4 pickup truck and a Beast 48 Ultimate Hunting Buggy going home with the top two finishers.
Each year, 42 contestants who won weeks or wildcards in GON’s big-buck contest converge at the Outdoor Blast. All are hoping to win the grand-prize truck from John Megel Chevrolet or the second grand prize, a Beast 48.
On Saturday, there were heads-up, one-against-one matches between Northern Zone and Southern Zone winners from each week of last deer season and in four wildcard categories. The winners of the Saturday heads-up matches moved on to Sunday’s finals for a chance at the Chevy truck and Beast. Those Sunday qualifiers won big already—the five bow season weekly winners earned Mathews Halon bows, and the 11 winners during gun season earned Browning X-Bolt Stalker rifles. That’s 16 weekly prizes valued at more than $1,000 each! Plus, the Week 6 winner during the primitive-weapons season won a CVA Accura MR SS muzzleloader with a scope and case, and the wildcard qualifiers all won knives from Havalon.
Max Lewis, a 27-year-old cattle and chicken farmer from Albany, was the best shot during Sunday’s Shoot-Out finals and won the Chevy pickup truck. Max made it to the Shoot-Out by winning the Week 14 Southern Zone category with a Dougherty County 11-point buck that scored 145 2/8. It was the first antlered buck Max has killed in more than a decade.
“I grew up hunting and fishing all the time, but I just don’t have time to hunt as much any more,” Max said. “I’ve always enjoyed it, but that’s the first buck I’ve killed in 12 years. I take a lot of people, like taking first-time hunters or kids. I’d just much rather watch them shoot a doe.”
There’s nothing like a big buck to re-energize the deer-hunting bug.
“A neighbor saw him coming out and told me about him. I put up a trail camera and got some pictures, and I said, ‘That’s the biggest deer I’ve ever seen on our place.’ I kept getting pictures of him, but they were all at night.”
Long-time GON readers know the first rule of Truck-Buck—you must be a GON magazine subscriber before you kill a buck to be able to enter.
“I’ve read GON my whole life, but I’ve never been a subscriber,” Max said. “My Uncle Harvey talks about GON all the time, and I told my wife to look into getting a subscription. About a month later, I killed that deer. About the second magazine I got in the mail, I was already in it. I thought that was cool.”
The Uncle Harvey that Max mentioned is Harvey Pate Jr., of Albany, who was the Week 17 South winner who competed in the Shoot-Out finals alongside his nephew. Harvey made it to the final five of the contest.
“At one point, I looked down the line at who was left, and there were just five of us, and one of them was Uncle Harvey. I thought, ‘We have a pretty good shot at winning something here.’ “I figured it would be Uncle Harvey. He’s a great shot, and he’s the one who got me to practice some before the Shoot-Out, and he gave me some pointers.”
Harvey Pate Jr. and David Dyer went out during round 6, a 45-foot shot at the egg. Still in were Cabe Harrison, James Key and Max Lewis. James was up first, and he busted the egg at 60 feet. Max was next, and he hit the egg from 60 feet, too. Then Cabe shot and missed.
At that point, James and Max were grand-prize winners, but we had to decide who won the truck and who won the Beast. It took three more rounds—both missed the next time up, and then both hit the egg with Max staying alive when his pellet hit the rubber band and dropped the egg.
“Most of it’s luck anyway. I had a friend who killed one a week before me, and his buck scored 5 inches more, and he got beat out. It was the right week,” Max said.
“It sure was fun. When I got up there, it was a lot more exciting than I thought a pellet rifle competition would be. Once you get down to the final four or five, you get real nervous. I met a lot of good people. I had my wife and young ’un there, talked to a lot of hunters—real good folks, people I never would have met.”
Max didn’t have a need for a Silverado 1500, so he worked with the John Megel folks to trade in his pickup truck for a new Suburban.
“My wife is super excited. Dealing with John and Jonathan Megel was great. When I need another vehicle, I’ll be driving to north Georgia. The truck was a wonderful truck, but it didn’t fit our needs, so we traded it and got something for my wife, a fancy Suburban that we never would have bought any other way. We were certainly blessed.”
Another year of Truck-Buck begins on opening day of bow season. Make sure you have a GON subscription, enter through our simple online form, and then you could be on the Shoot-Out stage next year.