Young Gun Takes Another Truck
Out of the best field of shooters in Truck-Buck history, and in front of the biggest Shoot-Out crowd ever, 15-year-old Kirk Peaster stepped up and won a new Chevy pickup.
For the second time in the history of the Truck-Buck Shoot-Out, a young hunter, an underdog among determined, grown-up competitors, has left the Perry Buckarama with the keys to a shiny new 4-wheel-drive pickup.
Aug. 22, 1999 was another unbelievable chapter in the Shoot-Out saga. To begin with, it was the most attended Shoot-Out in GON history, with an estimated 900 to 1,000 spectators. The cavernous Living Center was filled to capacity. The bleachers were filled, every chair was filled, the folks on their feet were backed up all the way to the entrance. Two-dozen watcher had gone behind the curtains of the storage area, stacked tables and pallets and stood on them so they could see over the curtains and crowd.
Then, once the shooting began, it was clear the crowd was witnessing one of the most competitive Shoot-Outs ever. Every one of the 16 weekly winners had been practicing with an RWS Diana pellet rifle, the same model used in the Shoot-Out. Not a single shooter missed the regulation-sized skeet at 30 feet, and not a single one missed at 45 feet, either. That has never happened before. The next best performance occurred in 1994, when only one shooter had missed by Round 2.
This year’s Shoot-Out included 15-year-old Kirk Peaster and 16-year-old Brandon Mitchell, and both performed flawlessly in the first two rounds. But by Round Three, where shooters take on the regulation skeet at 60 feet, thinned the ranks by six shooters. Regardless of the size of the target, the 60-foot rounds are always deadly.
Round 4, the target became a slightly smaller midi skeet, and the shooters move back up to the 30-foot platform again. Randy Dennis, whose experience as a professional tournament archer was showing, broke the target with ease just as he had the others. Sonny Carlisle continued his preparation stance, holding the gun in both hands with his arms relaxed while he closed his evens, then focused on the target while his face took on the look of absolute concentration. The other shooters were also wooing remarkable composure under the weight of nearly a thousand silent, staring faces.
And still hanging with this group of determined shooters was Kirk Peaster, of Perry. Kirk was 14 last November when he killed his Macon County 13-pointer that scored 138 6/8 B&C inches, and he just turned 15 this past July. He had a large group of hometown supporters cheering him on when he stepped up to the platform each time.
In Round 5, the shooters moved again to the 45-foot mark, and only Wayne Thompson was eliminated. Nine shooters entered Round 6, their second test at a distance of 60 feet and with a smaller target. The 60-foot challenge took down another group: Jimmy Jones, Ryan Suggs, Sam Parker, even Todd Wilder and Sonny Carlisle. Randy Dennis had survived. So had Hugh Greene and Ray Pilcher. And so had Kirk Peaster—to the growing amazement and cheer of the crowd.
Now things got really tough. For Round 7, the target became a raw egg, positioned bottom-out so that the actual target face is the shape and size of a ping-pong ball. Randy Dennis was up first, and this time he found it difficult to find a sight-picture he liked. He backed down on his shot once, twice and a third time. Each time the surprised murmur of the crowd grew louder. When Randy finally shot, the egg remained safely intact. Hugh Greene was up then. When he fired, the egg exploded.
Ray Pilcher was up, and his face was like steel: no smile, no doubts. He broke his Round 7 egg, as well.
To stick with Hugh and Ray, Kirk had to break his own egg. Though the adults had taken their time, had aimed for what seemed like minutes, Kirk took less time to aim, fire and hit the target. Once again, the crowd went nuts. The whole scene was reminiscent of 1997, when 9-year-old Zack Hammond stuck with the other hunters, most of them 20 or 30 years his senior, through seven rounds to win the truck.
For Round 8, the three remaining shooters moved back to 45 feet again. Before anyone could calculate the meaning of the situation, Hugh and Ray had missed clean—the distinctive pop of an exploding raw egg was conspicuously absent. That left 15-year-old Kirk in the clear with a chance to end the Shoot-Out and claim the truck. As Kirk selected a pellet and calmly approached the platform, and excited murmur, growing into a cheer, revealed that the crowd was catching on—the young man could win the truck right here.
When Kirk stepped up and raised the gun, the crowd fell silent, and the next sound was that of an exploding egg, followed immediately by the deafening roar of 1,000 people now standing on their feet. Kirk’s family, the other shooters, Kirk’s friends and other Perry locals poured into the shooting arena and surrounded the young man who had just won a brand-new pickup.
For several minutes, everyone forgot that there was still a Suzuki 4-wheeler to give away. Hugh and Ray got back up with the pellet rifle to settle the matter of second place. It took five rounds, both shooters missing, before Ray finally broke the egg and claimed the Suzuki.
Truck-Buck fans will recall an interesting fact about Kirk: his buck was the fourth-best deer officially scored for Week 10 of the contest. Two other entrants had not taken the required polygraph test, and the third entrant, Capt. Frank Timmons, had sadly passed away last spring. It just goes to show that any hunter can win a week, and any hunter can win the new pickup truck. Kirk had his choice of a Chevrolet or a Ford: he took the Chevy.
Now, the time of year has come for Truck-Buck to begin again. You may be one of the 20 people who will be in the Shoot-Out next year.
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