The “Free State of Jones” is not exactly known for producing high scoring bucks. But when it comes to white-tailed deer in Mississippi these days, the big buck landscape is ever changing. There are fewer surprises every season. 

On Dec. 30, Landon Howard of Jones County shot the biggest buck of his life after two days of tough hunting and with moments of indecision as to which stand to hunt. The buck has been scored twice and both scorers placed it at 150+ inches. It carries a 16 2/8-inch inside spread and 10 points of antler.

The buck his hunting club knew as “Big Ten” could end up being the second or third largest buck recorded from Jones County.

“The day before I took this buck, a friend and myself were hacking our way across a cutover trying to reach an old shooting house up on a hill overlooking the whole area, including a green plot that had not been hunted due to timber work in the area,” Howard said. “I ended up taking my son to that stand in the evening and we saw one 8-point buck with a broken brow tine. We decided to pass. 

"The next day I called club members to see where they were hunting. Another hunter indicated he wanted to go to the shooting house. I did not want to be a stand hog, so I agreed. 

“Turned out later this hunter got hung up at work and could not get to that stand early enough to hunt it. My friend called and convinced me to try that same stand again."  

Howard said he was back in the stand by 4:10 with deer already in the green plot.

"About an hour later I glassed a buck coming down the hill headed to the plot where some does were feeding," he said. "I lost sight of him over the crest of the hill I was sitting on.

"He never came out into the open again and shooting light was dying fast.  All but one of the does had gone from the food plot which I thought was peculiar."

Howard continued to glass the area and finally spied a buck coming out.

"I knew by his size that it was not the buck I had seen earlier," he said. "I put up my Browning A-Bolt Boss in .270, took the safety off and dialed in on him. The shot was not broadside so I grunted, hollered, screamed and beat on the wall of the stand to get the buck to move.  He finally presented a good shot and I took it.

“I have never taken a buck over 130 but I am extremely proud this one came from Jones County. I hunt with some great guys on a great place. It was a very special moment for me and I give all the glory to God."

*Don't forget to enter photos of your bucks in the Big Buck Photo Contest to be eligible for monthly giveaways.

Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.