"Jeff was ranting about this buck he'd seen, a very tall and very wide rack that he said would go about 160 inches then," Lloyd said. "I remember he told me, 'If anyone ever kills that buck, don't worry, we'll hear about it.'"
Now, everybody is hearing - and talking - about the big 180-class buck, which Andy Lloyd punched a hole in during an afternoon hunt on Dec. 7 during the NWR's annual muzzleloader hunt.
The buck was green-scored by experienced Boone & Crockett scorer Corey Neill two days after the kill, and the mainframe 10-point with one kicker grossed over 190 inches and netted 184 4/8.
It will cause some heavy editing at the top of the Magnolia Records record book after the mandatory 60-day drying period before it is officially scored. The buck is just 2/8 of an inch short of James Saunders' state-record typical (184 6/8) taken last season, and nearly 2 inches bigger than Glen Jourdan's No. 2 deer (182 7/8).
It is over 4 inches bigger than the No. 1 typical by muzzleloader.
"It's very tall with one G3 going 13 7/8 inches and very long with 28-inch main beams," the 30-year-old Inverness catfish farmer said. "He's also wide, measuring over 22 inches. It didn't have great mass, like you'd think for a 5 1/2- or 6 1/2-year-old buck, and he wasn't a really big deer, either.
"He only weighed 150 pounds field dressed."
This buck put all its potential in antler length, and the result makes it an early-season contender for Mississippi's buck of the year.
Lloyd was hunting in the same area where his brother had first spotted the buck in 2009, and very close to the spot where Lloyd shot a nice 10-point last year that grossed over 150 inches.
"My brother told me that the deer I killed last year wasn't the one he'd seen, and kept saying that there would be no doubt if anyone killed it," Lloyd said. "Jeff was so sure about it that I figured that buck would still be out there and should have been bigger."
Hunting on public land like Morgan Brake, Lloyd knew he needed every edge he could get. He had no clue how many other hunters had passed through the area during bow season or while hunting other game. Deer in such territory can be overly cautious, even during the rut.
"I think a key to my success with this deer was a product called Ever Calm, a scent created in a deer pen," Lloyd said. "It is supposed to calm deer, telling them 'don't worry, deer are in this area.' It is the first and only calming scent I've seen or heard about.
"It comes in a stick like deodorant and you are supposed to rub it on brush, trees, limbs basically anything around. I also put it on my boots and around my stand, hoping it will act not only as a calming scent but also a masking scent to cover my odor."
Lloyd said it worked perfectly.
He hunted the same stand the morning of Dec. 7 and was back that afternoon, hoping the big one would make a mistake during the late stages of the pre-rut activity.
"I had passed on a couple of bucks that came through that morning because I am only interested in (deer measuring) 130 inches and up, and that afternoon I had smaller bucks chasing does all around me, and none of them ever got a sense that I was there," Lloyd said. "They were passing right over where I had walked and running all around me, and none ever got spooked."
The hunter's willingness to pass up shot after shot that day paid off.
"Then the big one walked out, and he came out right next to where I had put some Ever Calm and he walked right out on the trail where I had walked in," Lloyd said. "He crossed my path as he walked over to check a scrape. He sniffed the ground, and then sniffed a limb where I put some scent."
When the buck stopped at the limb, it provided a perfect shot for Lloyd, who apparently needed the Ever Calm to work on him. He had trouble cocking the hammer on his Thompson Center Omega .50-caliber muzzleloader.
"It was a combination of things, I guess; nerves, the big gloves and it was cold, but I couldn't get the hammer cocked," Lloyd said. "I had to use both hands to get it cocked."
The extra movement didn't matter, and he dropped the hammer and placed a perfect double-lung shot. The blood trail was easy to follow the estimated 200 yards where the buck collapsed.
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