Two deer seasons earlier, Carey Smith was watching a big deer in a field in Walthall County waiting for a good shot. Two years later, sitting in nearly the same spot, he finally got it.
The result was a 167 6/8-inch buck (B&C gross), which, when officially scored, is likely to be the largest typical rack listed in Magnolia Records for the Southwest Mississippi County.
“Two years ago, I was in a tree stand watching that buck, and was looking at it when my son shot at it and missed,” said Smith, an over-the-road trucker from Tylertown. “I wasn’t happy about that, first because he missed the deer, but second because he wasn’t supposed to be there.
“I was the only one who was supposed to be in that area and my son showed up and then missed the buck.”
Turns out, it was a blessing.
On Jan. 5, as the rut was beginning to peak, Smith was back in the 300-yard field hoping to see a buck. The one he saw surprised him.
“He came out behind a doe and I knew it when I saw him that it was the same buck my son had missed; it had the same characteristics, but it was somewhat bigger,” he said. “That was the first time I had seen that buck since the day my son missed it.”
The buck walked into a clearing about 65 yards, following a doe, right after sunset in those minutes so precious to deer hunters. Light was fading, as were legal hunting hours.
“I knew he was a shooter so I got my .35 Whelan that I had gotten from Foxworth Pawn, up and I shot him,” Smith said. “To be honest with you, I thought I’d missed it.
“After I pulled the trigger, he just took off running like. He didn’t kick. He didn’t buck up. He didn’t tuck his tail. He didn’t do nothing but start running. There was nothing he did to indicate I’d hit him.”
Darkness soon arrived and the downtrodden Smith looked for blood and didn’t find any and then went home where his wife Lisa was waiting.
“She knew I was down, because when I got there I spent the first hour just pacing and pacing, going back and fourth and talking about that giant buck,” Smith said. “She looked at me, told me to calm down, and then said ‘just go to bed, get some sleep, get up early and go look again in the morning.’”
Arriving back at the spot where the buck had been standing at 7 a.m., and with help from his brother David Jackson, Smith started looking for blood and finally found a small “splat” of red.
“I can’t tell you how happy I was to find that blood, but there was only that one spot about as big as a quarter,” he said. “I was good at remember which way he had run so I tried to stay on that trail and about 30 yards later I found a second splat.
“I stayed on that line and walked right up on the buck about 100 yards. What happened was that the tallow was so thick on that fat buck that the 200-grain bullet didn’t exit the far side. It got stuck in the tallow, so there was no exit wound and very little blood.”
At the end of the trail, Smith found his monster. It was a 14-point, a nearly perfect 7x7, that was green scored 167 6/8 at Dan Heasley’s Taxidermy in Raymond.
“David and I were walking down in this little bottom that the buck had crossed, and we looked up the hill and we saw his antlers sticking up,” Smith said. “Long before we saw his body, we saw those antlers. I hollered, ‘there he is’ and I flew up that hill to get to him.”
The buck’s score sheet is impressive, highlighted by matching 23 4/8 main beams and with 5 6/8- and 5 ½-inch bases. The biggest of the circumference measurements was the second at 6 inches on the left side. The longest of the 14 points was the left G4 at 11 inches. The symmetry was such that the difference between the left beam and right beam totals was just 1 6/8-inches — 76 6/8 on the left and 75 on the right.
For all the hardware, the buck’s inside spread was just 16 inches.
*Read other stories about big bucks killed this past season by clicking here.