(Editor’s note: On Oct. 22, 2003, Tracy Laird of Natchez killed a buck with his bow in Adams County that remains the No. 1 non-typical buck ever killed by an archer in Mississippi and the No. 2 non-typical killed by any method. It officially scored 236 1/8 inches after grossing over 252 inches. Outdoor writer Bobby Cleveland was among the first to report on Laird’s record, and this is a summary of the story written from an interview two days after the hunt and another story written two months later after it was officially scored).
When Tracy Laird found the giant buck, his heart started racing and his knees were buckling.
“I had to sit down,” said Laird, 32, of Natchez. “I sat down next to him and caught my breath.
“I couldn't believe it. I mean I knew that it was a good buck when I shot ... but, this, I had no idea.”
Wednesday morning, as he regained his composure beside the giant buck, Laird started counting points.
“I counted 18 the first time, and then 23 the second and it was 27 the third time,” he said. “Every time I picked him up and turned his head, I found more points.
“I counted 27, but I’m not sure how many of them are officially scorable points. All I can tell you is that there are a lot of points, and they’re everywhere.”
But as impressive as the tines are in length and number, that’s not what makes Laird’s non-typical buck so impressive. It’s the mass.
“Man, it’s really massive,” said Laird, the emergency room director at Natchez Community Hospital. “You can't get your hand halfway around the palmation on the right bream. I think it measured out at 13 inches at the thickest point.
“Both beams are thick though, and they’re thick all the way out to the end. I have never seen anything like it.”
The deer was originally green-scored at 204 6/8 inches, putting it close to the existing non-typical archery record of 204 inches, set by Denver Eshee in Webster County during the 1995-96 season.
“The record would be nice but to be honest with you, I’m just enjoying the experience,” Laird said two days after the kill.
Two months later, just after 2003 became 2004, Laird’s experience peaked when Randy Breland of Natchez, an official scorer for Pope & Young, measured it at an amazing 236 1/8 inches.
“That’s correct, 236 1/8,” said Breland. “It grossed at 252 6/8. It had great mass, 24 scorable points and a little over 70 inches in total non-typical measurements.”
Breland said the antlers have over 30 “deer camp” points, but could only score 24 (P&Y rules require a point to be longer than its width at its base and it must be at least an inch long).
“It has a lot of them, and that’s the main thing that took its score so high,” Breland said. “When you have that many points, and some of them are long and a lot of them 4 to 6 inches, that adds up.
“The other thing was the mass. This buck has unusual mass. The antlers are so heavy.”
Laird has hunted deer with a bow for 17 years, and uses it as an escape from the stress of work in an ER.
“It’s how I solve the world problems and I breathe a little bit easier,” he said.
His breath got a little rapid that morning on a hunt on private land south of Natchez.
“I got in the stand a little before daylight, and hadn’t been in the tree 45 minutes when I heard him coming,” Laird said. “He was the first deer of the morning. I heard him like he was trotting over on my right. Then he stopped.
“When I picked up his movement again, he was steadily walking. He wasn’t feeding; he just kept walking like he was going to bed in some big woods.”
The buck never stopped, not even when Laird had to shoot with his 4-year-old Hoyt Reflex bow.
“I thought about making a noise to stop him, but I didn’t really want to risk spooking him,” Laird said. “He was going so slow, I just decided to take the shot and allow for his moving. He was 20 yards from me and quartering away.”
Turns out, Laird didn’t allow for as much movement as he wanted to.
“The arrow hit back, just ahead of his right hind quarter and it came out behind his left shoulder,” Laird said. “It worked, clipping his liver and his left lung. He didn’t go 50 yards.
“I didn't need a blood trail. I knew where he went and I walked right to him.”
There, Laird got his surprise.
“I’d seen him scouting and I knew he was good,” Laird said. “But, man, I had no idea he was this good.”