Blake Andrews had to adjust his treestand location three times, but the third one was the proverbial charm that led to a massive 12-point Claiborne County trophy buck on Oct. 24.
“I started getting a lot of pictures of this buck during daytime around the first of August, and I had been stalking him ever since,” said Andrews, 31, of Vicksburg. “I kept getting those daytime photos all the way up to the start of archery season on Oct. 1, and I got pretty serious.”
Using three trail cams, the hunter got to know the buck, whose antlers were both wide and tall, inside and out.
“I knew where I needed to be and it was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time with the wind, and two weeks before I killed him, I had him at 15 yards,” Andrews said. “It was Oct. 10 and he came out and passed under me. It was so thick all I could see was the top of his antlers.
“I saw enough of his antlers to know it was him, but I never got a good look at his body, and I never got a clear shot at this vitals. I had to let him pass.”
Then came a 14-day battle of the wind, one that Andrews would eventually win despite having a close call with utter failure.
“I was hunting this small oak flat that had a white oak and red oak dropping acorns in a confined area, and it was so thick around it,” he said. “I had this one stand and as the month passed the wind was changing. One day I decided to hang a stand in a new location about 30 to 40 yards.
“That afternoon, he came out right where he was supposed to, and then he did something I didn’t expect. He walked out, stopped and took a look at my original stand location. When he didn’t see me, I guess, he felt it was safe to walk out. He just flicked his tail and walked on out and started eating acorns.”
It was a “pretty neat” experience, Andrews said, but one that made him realize he had come close to messing up this buck.
“He had obviously seen me in that stand one day when I hadn’t seen him,” the hunter said. “Guess I was pretty lucky.”
On Oct. 23, Andrews was back in the oak flat and decided to make another change in preparation for his hunt the next afternoon.
“I had been watching the weather and the forecast was for a wind shift to the northeast, so I moved my stand and turns out it was perfect,” he said. “I took off work early at 3:30 in Vicksburg and drove down and it took about an hour or an hour and a half to get to my stand.
“I was used to hunting 13 or 14 hours a day in that acorn flat waiting to get a shot. That day, he came out within an hour of me being there. He was with another buck, about a 130-inch 8-point, and they were coming out of the thicket they used to get from their bedding area in a cutover about 150 yards away.”
The two bucks came out on one side of his stand, and there were already two does feeding on acorns on the other side of the tree. Andrews was surrounded, and they were all close.
“It was real thick where they came from, but when they popped out, it was pretty open and I didn’t have a lot of cover,” he said. “I couldn’t move. He was 30 yards when he stepped out but moved to within 20 yards feeding.”
Andrews needed a break, and he got it.
“I was sitting there trying to figure something out when something in the woods behind us got their attention,” Andrews said. “All at once they turned their heads and looked back. That gave me a chance to reach and grab my bow hanging off the tree in front of me and pull it back all in one motion.
“He was quartering away from me and I was looking at his right shoulder and, picturing in my head the exit spot on the opposite side, I picked a spot back on the ribs that would send the arrow through the lungs.”
The shot was perfect. The arrow passed through the ribs clean, took out both lungs and buried up in the left shoulder. The buck ran only 100 yards and Andrews heard it crash when it went down in the bottom.
“My brother was hunting with me on the other side of the property and I walked out to the road and waited on him,” Andrews said. “When he got there we went back and started looking. We didn’t find any blood, which worried me, but we didn’t find the arrow either. Since it didn’t exit, there was no blood trail.
“And I had heard him crash in the bottom, so we just circled that bottom and started looking. I walked up on what looked like a big thick log and as I got closer I started seeing that the log had horns. It was my buck.”
The 12-point was a mainframe 8 with split brow tines and a split on the left G2. The right G2 was huge, measuring 14 inches. The inside spread was 19¼ inches and the main beams were both 23½ inches and extremely thick. The bases measured 6 inches and the mass carried all the way out the beams.
A biologist aged the buck at 5½ years and scored the 220-pound beast at 167 2/8 gross typical.
“He told me that it would probably have no more than 5 or 6 inches of deductions when he is officially scored, and that shouldn’t be enough to keep him from being the new Claiborne County record (currently 155 2/8 in Magnolia Records) for a bow kill,” Andrews said. “That would be pretty neat.”
Yep, it would.
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