When deer hunters tell their trophy tales, like Jessie Ford and his 20-point killed recently in DeSoto County, they talk about the weeks, maybe months or even a season that went into taking their big buck.
Not Ford, though.
He talks more in terms of a decade.
“No kidding: This really starts back in the 2000 and 2001 season,” said Ford, of Nesbit, who claims to be a duck hunter who also likes to deer hunt. “I remember I was hunting this big buck that year that we’d been seeing while duck hunting, and I missed him with my gun. I hunted him for a while, and I just couldn’t get him.
“I called Dad and told him, go on and kill him if you can. I’m giving up and going back duck hunting. I kid you not: About an hour later, he was calling me to tell me he had killed that buck, and it was a good one. Measured about 147 inches.”
The son was not happy about being one-upped by the father, especially that quickly.
“I told Dad that he was done out here and couldn’t kill any more bucks after that,” Ford said. “I have spent the last 10 or 12 years trying to match or beat Dad, and I’d killed a few good bucks over the years but never anything that could match him.
“Finally, now I have, and I can’t tell you good it feels. It is so self-gratifying to know I have finally beaten Dad.”
Ford’s buck is a good one, grossing just over 170 inches, which is a pretty high number for a main-frame 9-point.
“It’s covered up in kickers, 11 more that make 20 scorable points,” Ford said. “The neatest thing is the G2 on the side, I think, which has what I call a saw blade. It has three kickers that look like teeth on a saw. The two G3s are both 14 inches long, and both have two kickers.
“He has split brow tines, too, and some other stuff around the bases, which were 5 ½ and 6 inches. The main beams are both 24 inches and the they carry mass all the way to the end. He’s just an incredible buck.”
Ford has actually been hunting that one deer for two years.
“Like I said, I’m a duck hunter — always have been; it’s in my blood,” he said. “But I always deer hunt some, especially when the duck season is slow, and I usually end up hunting deer I see while we’re in our duck hole. We got about 100 acres out here, and it has an old gravel pit with sand hills around it.
“Back in the youth season, I took my daughter, who is 5, and we tried to get her a buck. We saw some smaller 8-points in the green field we have but nothing that we wanted to shoot. She started getting bored and Dad has always told me that when that happens, it’s important to do something else because they will lose interest in hunting.”
So, Ford said, they decided to make a move, leave the field and go back to the gate to meet his father. He had called him to come pick them up.
“When we were talking back to the gate, I looked up and saw a doe run into some persimmons, and I moved for a look and there he was,” Ford said. “He was just standing there, and I tried to get my daughter into position for a shot, but she never could get him in her scope.
“We had to let him go.”
On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the final day of the first gun season in Mississippi, Ford decided “sort of last minute” to make a hunt.
“We had been to church, had a big family lunch and I thought, ‘Why not?’” he said. “I called Dad about going, and the wind was horrible, blowing strong out of the southwest and that is exactly what you don’t want for that field. It would be blowing across the field directly into the thicket where they lay up.
“But Dad said ‘Go, because the bucks are acting crazy’ because they were getting close to the rut. I decided I’d walk down there and get on that hillside by the gravel pit and see what happened.”
Something did happen, and it was freaky.
“I was three steps from where I was going to sit down and I heard this awful bellowing roar, like a lion,” Ford said. “I mean it was loud and it was close. It was that buck.
“I’ve heard a lot of deer grunting before, but I have never heard anything like that.”
Ford’s position on the hill gave him about a 30- to 40-foot height advantage, which he used to walk over and look almost directly down in a thicket below him.
There stood the buck with a doe.
“I guess they smelled me, and she took off and he followed, and they tore off across this sage thicket and then the wide open field,” Ford said. “There’s a ditch across it, and on the other side it’s so thick that once they got there it was over. Well, the doe just barreled off across the ditch.
“The buck, though, he just hesitated and actually stopped at the edge of the ditch. I couldn’t believe it. I scoped down on him, and I remember saying, ‘Lord, don’t let me miss this buck,’ and then I shot.”
The buck crumpled and collapsed.
Among Ford’s first moves was to call his dad to brag.
“When I called him and told I had gotten this buck, he asked me, ‘Now, can I come back out there and kill another buck?’” Ford said. “We laughed, and I told him it sure was.
“And now I can go back to duck hunting. My buddies all kid me saying, ‘Guess you’re a deer hunter now.’ Truth is I’m still a duck hunter and always will be.
“And now our duck hole is full of water and this winter weather is really pushing ducks in here. The timing is good.”
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