Tupelo firefighter Josh Raymond’s opening morning deer hunt in Chickasaw County had its ups and downs, both literally and figuratively.

And, for a still hunter, Raymond has to admit that there was definitely a canine influence in taking his 25-inch, 8-point Chickasaw County trophy buck that ended the morning on a high note.

“Yes sir, I killed a nice, wide 8-point that I’d been seeing on camera for three years,” Raymond said. “He was big, too, 275 pounds, plus. I didn’t know for sure it was that buck I shot when I shot it, but I had a pretty good idea it was.

“We just don’t have a lot of 275-pound deer running around that part of the country.”

There’s one less now, and how it happened makes an interesting story.

It begins with Raymond and friend Taylor Dickerson hunting near Houlka, on private land arranged through a church connection.

“I started the morning on a stand overlooking a cutover, and at about 7 a.m., a coyote came through,” Raymond said, discussing the first canine factor. “Since we try to manage the coyotes there, I shot him, which pretty much ended any chance we had at a buck in that cutover. I climbed down and Taylor came over after I shot. He said he was going down this logging road to scout and I decided to go another direction, down toward this hardwood bottom to scout.

“When I got down there, I found the first straight tree I could find, an old pine, put my climber on it and went up about 15 or 20 feet, just high enough to see over the thick brush.”

Up again, things happened pretty quickly.

“As soon as I got up and had pulled up my .270 rifle, I sat down and took out my phone to answer a text from my wife,” Raymond said. “Then I opened Facebook and posted about going to the Mississippi State game (against Vanderbilt) that night.

“I had just put the phone back in my sleeve pocket when I heard something and I looked up and this huge buck came barreling through that bottom, about 40 yards from my stand. The sun was behind him, like he was coming right out of the sun, so every time I put the scope on him, the scope filled with sun and I couldn’t see him good. I tried to stop him but I never did. He never checked up and ran out of sight, and I was discouraged to the max.”

Raymond had a clue it was the deer he’d been seeing on trail cams for three years, first as a wide 7-point at an estimated 4 years of age, then last year again as an even wider 7-point, when Raymond thought the buck was at his max. The buck was huge-bodied then, and even bigger this year, when he showed up on cam as an 8-point.

“I wasn’t sure it was the same buck, but I figured it had to be because of his size,” he said. “I could see the body, and I had a guess it was him but because of the sun and how fast he was moving, I wasn’t sure.”

The firefighter was almost sure his morning was over.

“My phone was on vibrate and it was vibrating, somebody was calling,” Raymond said. “It was Taylor, and as I swiped to answer the call, I looked down the logging road, in the direction I had climbed to be looking toward, the big buck came back out and was running toward me in the logging road about 150 yards away.

“I put the phone back in my sleeve pocket and got my gun up and I started trying to stop the buck. Finally, the second time I hollered, he stopped and I shot. He ran off the road and I heard him crash down about 20 feet from where he’d stopped.”

In the excitement, Raymond started trying to figure out what had this buck so stirred, and he soon got his answer.

“We don’t hunt that property with dogs, but some of the people on the neighboring properties do hunt with dogs and sometimes the dogs get off on our side,” he said. “I could hear dogs barking all around me, excited barking like they were on a deer’s trail. I figured that’s what had the deer stirring.”

 In the meantime, Dickerson was still on the phone.

“I had never hung up and I could hear him yelling on the phone,” Raymond said. “So I picked it back up and told him I had just shot a big one. He was telling me that he had called to tell me he had jumped a buck and that it was just a basket-racked 8-point. He said, ‘that’s what you just shot.’

“I didn’t think so, but …”

Now an unsure Raymond started wondering about what had happened, but his focus was quickly brought back to the present.

“The dogs were closing and were behind my stand barking like crazy and I looked back at the direction of the buck, and I saw those antlers move like he was turning to look back in the direction of me and the dogs,” he said. “I looked in my scope, found the antlers, followed back to his vitals and took a second shot. He went down.”

Raymond told Dickerson to meet him at the base of the tree where he’d hung his stand. The hunter then descended the tree, and the dogs kept closing in.

“By the time I got down, Taylor was approaching and the dogs were down there near the deer barking like crazy,” Raymond said. “When Taylor came up the road and topped a little hill, I heard him holler, ‘oh my God!’ That’s when I knew and I hurried the 120 to 125 yards.”

When he arrived at the spot, the buck was still alive and fighting off the dogs.

“My first shot had been a little far back, but the second was right in the buck’s wheelhouse and I don’t know how he didn’t die from it,” Raymond said. “But when I got there, he was trying to get up and the dogs were trying to get at him and every time one would try to nip at a leg, he would take a swipe at it with his antlers.

“Not wanting him to suffer, I put another shot right in his heart and ended it.”

The huge buck was impressive in its overall body mass and its main beams. All it was lacking was tine length.

“That’s what killed my overall score (roughly scored at 147 inches),” he said. “He was not tall, and looking back two years ago, he was never tall. But his bases were 6¾ inches and he carried that all the way out the length of the 25-inch main beams. The measurements at the G3s were 5 inches.

“Just his width — 25 inches — and two main beams added up to 75 inches and there was another 32 or more in circumference measurements (16 on each side). He was a good deer; he just needed longer tines.”

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