Ryan Mayfield has a knack for adapting to a situation and overcoming obstacles, at least he does when it comes to deer hunting in the North Mississippi Delta.
It’s how he beat the odds Monday to put an arrow through a 148-inch 8-point in a soybean field, which, for the unknowing, is not an easy thing to do with a bow.
“I knew there were three shooter bucks in the area because I’d gotten a lot of trail cam pictures of them since July,” said Mayfield, of Hernando. “They were always moving down to feed into a little pocket, like a cove in the soybean field where they felt safe and comfortable.
“I started looking for a way to hunt the cove. The bucks, it was the big one and three other shooters, always came into the field at this same spot 150 yards west of the cove. They would walk all the way down. There was not a single tree anywhere close where I could hang a stand.”
Which led to...
“I decided to use a ground blind, which is tough,” he said. “But I didn’t have another option, and that cove was small enough that I could tuck it back in some of the small trees under some overhanging limbs. I knew that I had to have a west wind, or a northwest wind, to have a chance.”
And, there’s this...
“I got to hunt twice early last week, but it was so hot and the wind wasn’t right and I only saw two does,” Mayfield said. “I was beginning to think they had changed spots, but I still thought that if I got the wind right and it cooled off, those bucks would come back to the cove. I decided I’d stay with it.
“Then, about Thursday last week, I saw a long-term weather forecast that showed a cold front coming and changing the winds to out of the northwest over the weekend or on Monday. I had to go out of town over the weekend to visit my fiancée who goes to Mississippi State. That was great because I knew the hunting would be better when I got back.”
“On Monday, at work, I had to drive my boss to the Memphis airport for an afternoon flight and I knew I was gonna be late getting back,” he said. “But I got out of Memphis pretty quick and saw that I was gonna make it back by 5 and thought I could still hunt. The problem was I had none of my stuff with me.
“I called a friend of mine and he met me at a service station with my camo, boots and bow and I was able to make it to the camp in time.”
So he changed into his gear, walked into his ground blind, readied his bow and got ready.
“I got into the blind about 5:30 and at about 6, I heard something and looked up and saw two young 8-points and a few does coming,” he said. “They all came down to the cove and began feeding. I even got my cell phone out and was shooting some video of one of the young 8s when all of a sudden I noticed all of the deer raise their heads and look in one direction. A couple of the does ran away a short piece.
“I looked up and saw the bucks coming. It was the same bunch I’d been seeing on cameras and it included the big one. They were coming straight to the cove.”
They had to cover 100 yards to reach Mayfield’s blind and they didn’t waste much time getting there.
“They just kept on coming until they were in the cove with me and only 20 yards away,” he said. “Thinking about it, there were like seven bucks and several does all in that small cove feeding and I was right there with them in that ground blind. The wind and the conditions were just perfect.”
Now all Mayfield needed was to get a good clean shot on the big boy.
“He finally got clear inside 20 yards and I drew back,” the hunter said. “Then he turned and faced directly at me. I kind of hesitated and then I made a rookie mistake and tried to force the shot. He kind of quartered up to me, and I thought I could get the shot in front of his left shoulder and it would exit behind the right shoulder.
“As soon as I touched the release I started second-guessing the shot. I was kind of mad at myself, and I called my friend Josh Irvin and told him what I’d done. I was supposed to go to his house to watch a game on TV and he told me to come on and leave the deer for a while.”
The guys talked it over and decided to get up early, go to the cove before sunrise and start the recovery.
“One thing I didn’t want to do was bust that deer and have him take off across the Delta, so I felt better about leaving him alone that night,” Mayfield said. “We got there in the pitch-black dark because I use a Lumanok, which is a nock that has a little red glow. We figured if we got there in the dark we might see it.”
They didn’t find it, but Irvin did find blood.
“We started working the blood trail, but it only went about 15 yards before it quit,” Mayfield said.
His second guessing of the shot was intensifying, but he kept up the search.
“I made it to a ditch and I was looking in it to see if he was in the water, when my dad texted me asking me if I had found the buck,” Mayfield said. “I was in the middle of texting him back when I heard Irvin over on the other side of the ditch hollering.
“‘Mayfield, I found your deer. He’s over here.’ I went over there and man it felt pretty good.”
The shot was far better than Mayfield thought.
“I had shot him right in the breast and the arrow pretty much wrecked every vital organ on his right side,” he said. “The arrow was still deep in his body and the nock was sticking out the front.”
The buck was a main-frame 7-point with an extra main beam sticking out of its left base to make it an 8-point.
“He grosses in the mid 140s, was 17½ inches wide and had nice mass. His bases were 5 inches on both sides and he carried the mass all the way out the beams. He is my biggest bow buck.
“You know what? I’ve killed a bigger buck with a gun, but I did that in the Midwest and anybody can go up there and kill a big buck with a gun. This buck I shot here with my bow, I consider it the best buck I’ve ever killed. I killed it here in Mississippi with a bow...”
Yep, and from a ground blind, in an open field just a couple of hours after taking the boss to the airport.
Not bad at all.
Click here to read about other big bucks killed this season.
Also, don't forget to post your photos of your bucks in the MS-Sportsman.com Big Buck Photo Contest to be eligible to win great Mississippi Sortsman swag. It's free to all registered members of this site.