“I knew the deer already and was specifically looking for his sheds," the hunter said. "I found one of his sheds in March but never found the other. At this point, I knew he was going to be high on my hit list for this season. My pursuit of the animal became a lot more personal once I had a piece of him to hold. I like making my hunts as personal as I can.”
This is the way Madison’s Andy Smith, a 34-year-old engineer for Tellus Operating, described his quest for the heavy-antlered buck he was after on his 5500 acre hunting club located in Yazoo County.
On Oct. 20, he had more than a “piece of him to hold” as he stood over the form of the big 11-point buck he arrowed late the afternoon before.
“I saw this buck last season, had trail camera photos this year and actually got a look at him about a week ago at 90 yards,” Smith said. "I was really focused on getting a crack at this buck this season."
Climbing 18 feet to his lock-on stand the afternoon of Oct. 19, Smith hadn’t been settled in very long when he saw a good buck coming his way at a fast walk.
“This buck was bookin’ it," he said. "If you or I had walked that fast, we’d be completely out of breath. I think he was in a hurry because he was skirting a thicket and probably didn’t like being exposed until he got back in the cover.
“I had a wide shooting lane in front of my stand and as the buck speed-walked to the opening, I grunted. He looked toward me but never stopped. My only chance was to try and stop him before he got to the thick stuff so I grunted louder and he stopped in a small opening, no more than 18 inches wide. He was quartering toward me and I released the arrow and watched him take off."
After the shot, Smith climbed down from the stand, walked to where the buck was standing when he released the arrow and was discouraged by what he didn’t find.
“There was no evidence of a hit, and I didn’t find my arrow," he said. "Anytime I don’t get a pass-through with the arrow, I get a little worried."
By now, it was getting dark so Smith went back to the camp, had a bite while sharing his story with his hunting friends. After a couple of hours, the group decided to go back to the scene and see if they might find the deer, although he was not hopeful after finding no sign of a hit.
“When we got back to the spot, the woods were fairly open the direction the deer ran and we immediately began finding blood – lots of blood," Smith said. "I could see a hundred yards or so through the pines and just knew I’d be able to spot my deer. I found the last five inches of my arrow with the fletchings covered with blood. However after following the blood trail which virtually stopped at the edge of a hay field that was cut a few days earlier, we decided to give up for the night."
After a restless night without much sleep, Smith called a friend who had blood trailing dogs and who agreed to meet him the following morning.
“We drove to the hay field and while my friend was getting his dogs ready to begin trailing, I looked out in the field and saw a brown lump,” he said. "I got my binoculars on the lump and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw antlers."
The buck had only traveled 75 yards into the hay field but two hay bales were blocking his vision the night before.
The buck, at least 5 years old, sported a heavy rack consisting of 10 points along with a sticker. The deer weighed 220 pounds and featured a 17-inch inside spread with an amazing 40 inches of mass. Bases were between 5 and 6 inches and the mass carried all the way along the rack. Rough scored, the rack contained approximately 150 inches of bone.
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Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.