Peyton Barnes had pretty much given up on his rainy morning deer hunt on Dec. 23, and he was ready to get down out of his stand in Claiborne County to seek the warmth and shelter of the camp house.
But, as it can happen during the rut, things changed pretty quickly.
Misery turned to euphoria when the 19-year-old hunter put the crosshairs on a monster 16-point trophy — a main-frame 10-point with huge G2s and G3s that helped push the green score over 171 inches.
“I was in an old homemade basket stand, a latch-on against a tree, and it had been a pretty miserable morning,” said Yazoo City’s Barnes, who was hunting during his Christmas break from Mississippi State University. “I had been hunkered down in my coat in the rain and hadn’t seen anything.
“The stand is in a hardwood bottom at the base of a hill, beside a ditch. There are big thickets on both sides of the ditch, and the bottom is about two or three acres that the deer use to cross between the thickets.”
Just as Barnes was preparing to leave, something caught his attention.
“It was about 9:15, and I heard a light grunt behind me,” he said. “I turned and saw a doe running toward me about 50 to 60 yards, with a spike and a small 8-point right behind her. Then they stopped and looked back up the hill, and there he was — just standing there, about 20 yards from the doe.
“The 8-point immediately trotted off, but the spike and the doe just stood there looking at (the big buck). He stood where he was for about three or four minutes without moving. I couldn’t see him — at least not much of him. It was thick in there, with a lot of trees and vines and brush between us and all I could see was the G2 on his left side.”
At over 11½ inches, that G2 was all Barnes needed to see.
“Heck, you couldn’t miss it,” he said. “It was sticking out, and I knew he was a shooter from just that one tine. I couldn’t see anything else, and then the doe turned and started going away from me and the buck started walking up the hill behind her.
“He was steady grunting at her as he walked.”
Barnes’ options were limited, and weren’t getting any better.
“I had cut a shooting lane through the vines and stuff, but it was off my right shoulder at about 2 o’clock,” he said. “The deer were at 4 o’clock and weren’t headed for the shooting lane. I started freaking out that I was not going to get a shot and started looking for another hole to shoot through.
“I finally found a little one — I mean a little hole that looked clear to shoot though — and was holding on it when he got in front of it. He was quartering away from me at 70 yards, so I put it on his off-shoulder, his right shoulder since I was looking at his left side, and I squeezed off the shot.”
The 140-grain Barnes TSX bullet from his Remington 7mm-08 rifle was right on target, taking out both lungs.
“It was kind of weird, because when I shot he hunched up, fell backward and started rolling down the hill toward me, and ended up 30 yards from me in the ditch,” Barnes said. “I still didn’t know how big he was, just that he was pretty big.
“I got my first look at how good he was when he was flopping around in the ditch below me and I could see all those points.”
It was a magnificent sight to behold — a 16-point with G2s and G3s all exceeding 11 inches. The rack was dark chocolate in color.
“I had never looked at his rack after seeing the G2,” Barnes said. “I was just concentrating on getting a shot. When he started walking away behind the doe I got a better look at him, as it opened up, but I just focused on shot.”
Barnes didn’t know it at the time, but it turned out to be a buck he had seen before and had gotten pictures of from a trail cam.
“I didn’t recognize him at first, but later on I started thinking and realized it was the same deer I’d seen the year before and that I had some pictures of,” he said. “I had seen him from a stand about 150 yards (away) on same ditch last year. I am 90 percent sure it was same buck — same kind of rack, only bigger this year. I didn’t get a good look at him last year because he was running a doe.”
In addition to the long G2s and G3s, the buck’s main beams were an impressive 24 inches in length. The inside spread was 17 inches.
“Most of the stickers come off the G2s, especially the left side where there is one that is broken off and looks like a big ol’ golf ball on the end,” Barnes said. “There’s a couple of extra stickers off the main beams, too. We aged him at 5 ½ years.
“It is my biggest buck, by far, but not the biggest I’ve seen on the place. I’ve seen one bigger, but only one.”
And it is not the biggest buck in the family, either.
No, his dad, Barry Barnes, still holds that title with a Boone & Crockett qualifier taken in 2002 in Yazoo County.
“Dad’s buck was 172 inches, net, official,” Barnes said, and a check of Magnolia Records verified it. “He’s still got me.”
Don't forget to enter photos of your bucks in the Big Buck Photo Contest to be eligible for monthly giveaways.
And read all the stories on big bucks killed this season by clicking here.