Don’t be surprised if there’s not a hint of jealousy mixed with holiday joy this week at the Mike Campbell household in Grenada.
And it won’t have anything to do with Christmas gifts.
“There will definitely be some envy around the house this week,” said Campbell, who on Sunday killed a buck estimated at 190-inches on the family property in the Yalobusha River bottoms. “We’ve all been hunting this buck for years and I got him. We always talk about who was gonna kill Rocky Top for the past two seasons. My oldest daughter and my two sons, we’ve been after him a while, and ol’ Dad got him.”
Rocky Top is the nickname of the giant 17-point buck that had starring roles on all the trail cameras on the 1,000-acre property, but had never been seen by the naked eye. They had the shed from last year, but that was it.
“Amazing, I think we’ve all got hundreds of photos of Rocky Top but we never saw him, not once the whole time,” said Campbell, 46, who deals in timber and Bad Boy Buggies. “I wanted to get him with my bow, and never did, and so did my two sons. I wished we had, but this is good, too. Any way you can get the buck of a lifetime, and this one is certainly that, is good enough.”
The buck, a main-frame 10 with seven stickers, has been green-scored by three amateur scorers, whose gross totals range from 188 to 192 inches.
“It’s somewhere in there,” Campbell said, “and those are all great numbers. I plan on having it scored after Christmas.”
Campbell said that Rocky Top’s hangout was why hunting him was so difficult. Over half of the family property is in the Yalobusha River bottoms, and it is thick as it can be.
“As a matter of fact, if I hadn’t heard him splash in a ditch or old creek I don’t think I’d have even seen him Sunday morning,” Campbell said. “I was in my lock-on and was in the bottoms and about 8:15 that morning I heard something in the water.
“I started looking through the CRP and could barely make out the body of a doe. Then I saw the buck traveling with her. I don’t think he was running her, but instead I think he was just locked down on her and was just going where ever she was going until she was ready to be bred. Honestly, I think that after it had stormed so bad on Saturday night that he had just gotten up, or she had just gotten up and he went with her.”
The window of opportunity was very small.
“I could barely make him out but then I saw all those antlers and I knew he was a shooter,” Campbell said. “I didn’t even have time to pick up my binoculars. I just put my .30-06 up and looked through the scope and in a little opening about 18 inches wide, I finally saw his head and I immediately traced back to his shoulder and pulled the trigger.”
The buck broke and ran.
“I was thinking ‘Oh, no! I’ve had my shot at Rocky Top and I’ve missed him.’ But, then I heard him crash and I knew he was down,” Campbell said.
The 50-yard shot had ended the chase for Rocky Top.
“My neighbor had walked to a stand on his property about 100 yards or so away and I hollered at him to come help me,” he said. “He came.”
Rocky Top had split brow tines and G2s. Both of the G2s were 10 inches and the main beams were both over 24 inches.
“But the key to this buck is the mass,” Campbell said. “He was 7½ inches at both bases and it wasn’t until you reached out between the G2s and G3s that you could get your hands around the main beam. He was thick. He was massive.”
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