A unicorn, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a mythical animal generally depicted with the head of a horse, the hind legs of a stag, the tail of a lion and a single horn in the middle of the forehead.”
From now on in Tunica County, the unicorn will best be known as “the 12-point, 150 1/8-inch buck with an antler sticking up right out of the middle of its skull, killed by Haley Carter.”
Carter, 15, killed the unique deer Saturday on the opening morning of the youth gun season in Mississippi, after her dadJason Carter of Hernando rattled up the giant buck at Duck Lake Hunting Club.
“We’ve been watching this buck for three years now, and he came to be known as Unicorn, because he’s always had this one point sticking up right out of the center of his head,” Jason Carter said. “Haley didn’t know anything about Unicorn and its history, but I sure did.”
The odd point, which measured 2 5/8 inches, grows directly out of the skull plate between the two main beam bases. It was longer two seasons ago when the first images of the promising buck appeared on trail cams.
“This year, it looked like it had three of those unicorn points, but the other two actually were growing off the base of the left main beam under the hairline,” Carter said. “The one bigger point does not; it stands alone, coming up out of the skull.”
But that’s not the only unique characteristic of the huge antlers, which featured main beams of 22 2/8 and 21 4/8 inches.
“There are three tines that exceed 10 inches (in length), the inside spread was 19 2/8 inches and then there’s the left G3,” Carter said. “When we first got trail cam photos this year, it was a normal point, long and tall. But something must have happened to it when he was in velvet, because it comes out about an inch, does a 90-degree turn and then sticks straight out.
“Then there’s the base on the left main beam, where those are two points come out. The guy who scored it up here for a local big-buck contest went above those points and got a measurement of 6 inches. If he had measured it where it is usually measured, those points would have pushed that circumference to 8 inches.”
For sure, it is one of the most-unique racks reported this season in Mississippi, which has been incredibly quiet on big buck reports. Oddly enough, this is the second trophy reported from Duck Lake Hunting Club — both by youth hunters with similar scores.
Back in October, early in bow season, Bryce Gaston of Southaven used his grandpa’s crossbow to kill a 150-inch 11-pointer at Duck Lake.
“Again, I think you have to give credit to the work of landowner, and conservationist Tommy Goldsby and his family,” Carter said. “He was managing for quality deer before it was cool. He manages not only for trophy racks, but also for age, health, size and quality experience.”
There’s a bit of family history involved in Haley Carter’s drive to take a big buck, as her dad explains.
“This is her second buck — I couldn’t start to count the does she has killed — and the first one was a 135-inch 10-point at a different club five years ago when she was 10,”Carter said. “Since then, two years ago, her younger sister Caroline, killed a 149-inch 9-point when Caroline was 8. There was a little competition there, and she wanted to go.
“We got in the stand that morning before daylight, and I was hoping we’d see a doe. I knew Unicorn was in there, but with the full moon and all I wasn’t hopeful. We hadn’t seen a deer by 7:15, so I decided to try and rattle something up. Couldn’t hurt, right?”
Using a set of heavy horns from the sheds of a mature 6-point — “which are perfect because they give me a deep rattle like a big, mature buck would,” Carter said — he went to work.
“I rattled once and nothing happened, at least nothing I saw,” he said. “I waited about 20 minutes, and then I rattled again. About 15 seconds after I put the antlers down, he had stepped out of the cutover about 120 yards away. Maybe he heard the first round of rattling and had just worked around.
“I don’t know, but there he was.”
Sitting on her dad’s left in the ladder stand, Haley Carter saw the buck before her dad did.
“She said, ‘There’s a buck,’ but I couldn’t see it because of some limbs, but then he took a step and I could see him,” Jason Carter said. “I knew he was a good one, but then I put the binoculars on him and saw the antlers and I knew immediately it was Unicorn. He’s that distinct.
“There was no doubt he was coming to the rattling. He came off that hill out of the cutover and was coming straight to us, on a beeline. He had a purpose, and he was coming.”
But halfway to them, he stopped and did something that added a lot of excitement to the hunt.
“He stopped under this tree, and started making a scrape,” Carter said. “Then he got up on his hind legs and broke a small, overhanging branch. I could tell from her breathing that Haley was getting excited.
“When he stopped to make that scrape and got up on his hind legs, all of a sudden it was real. That’s when she got a little unnerved.”
Fortunately, it was almost over.
“After he finished at the scrape, he turned and started back in our direction, kind of a slight quartering toward us,” Jason Carter said. “I told her to get ready, and she was breathing pretty heavy. She had to back off the scope a couple of times to take deep breaths (to keep from fogging the lens).
“Then he stopped, and at 60 yards she took the shot. She was shooting a Thompson Center Venture in a 7mm-08 with a 139-grain Hornady ballistic tip. I was watching through binoculars, and could tell it was a good hit. He tucked his tail, did a 180 and left the way he came.”
Dad and daughter left the stand, found the spot and located good blood.
“Haley found the blood and we followed it to the edge of the field, and I had her stop and stand at the last blood and I walked another 40 yards in the cutover and went right to him,” Carter said. “He hadn’t gone 100 yards from where he’d been shot, and when we were cleaning him, we found that the shot was absolutely perfect, taking out the heart and part of the offside lung. She pulled it all together and made it happen.
“Then, the celebration began.”
It isn’t likely to end for a long, long time.
“When she reached the deer and looked at the antlers, she said ‘Oh my God!’” her dad said. “I told her it was the Unicorn buck, and she didn’t have a clue about that until I showed her the point.
“There was hugging, high-fiving, dancing — just total excitement. It had been a long time between bucks for her.
“It was fun; so much fun.”
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