Three things you need to know about Drew Waldrop and the giant 10-point buck with nearly 170 inches of gross measurements that he shot in Hinds County on the afternoon of opening day.
* The shot was 400 yards, give or take a few.
* He shot it from the ground, in a natural blind.
* And, it wasn’t a broadside shot, more like quartering to him.
Put those together, and it was an incredible display of marksmanship.
“It was the longest shot I’ve ever made on a deer, but I have shot out to 600 yards and more at the range,” said Waldrop, 27, of Bogue Chitto. “I like to shoot and my buddies and I spend a lot of time at the range shooting.”
It’s the kind of practice one needs for hunting at a lease that involves huge agricultural field, like the cotton fields that Waldrop was hunting between when the shot presented itself.
After passing on morning hunts due to weather and because deer sightings had been minimal during the youth hunts, Waldrop and a friend decided at lunch to make an afternoon hunt.
“I was not expecting to see much but I knew there was a front moving in some time that evening, and was hoping it would have the deer up and moving,” he said. “We got to the farm around 2 p.m. and decided on where we were going to hunt. The wind was whipping and the temperature had dropped a lot.
“I decided to sit on the ground on a small wooded draw separating two cut cotton fields. Nobody had hunted that spot, but there were lots of sign in the area so I knew my chances of seeing something were good.”
Waldrop settled into a natural ground blind that the members had been using and refurbishing for years.
“Around 4:30, several does came into the field to my right at about 200 yards and started feeding,” Waldrop said. “Not long after that, 11 more does came into the field right behind them and went to feeding. So I watched them, and almost decided to take a doe. It was opening day and my wife was on me about getting some meat for the freezer. It was early, so I held off.
“A couple of minutes passed and I caught a glimpse of something to my left. Two does came in right on top of me, got my wind and spooked. They ran all the way across the field alerting the other deer in the field. I thought my hunt was over but eventually they all went back to feeding.”
Actually, the hunt was just getting interesting. Waldrop picked up his binoculars and started scanning the wood line on the edge of the cotton field.
“I caught a glimpse of a big bodied deer coming out of the woods at 450 yards feeding towards the does in the field,” he said. “I immediately focused in on him. I couldn't tell much about his antlers with his head being down in the high cotton stalks but I knew he was mature due to his body size.”
Even at such a distance, the hunter recognized the maturity. Like the other deer in the field, the buck was busy eating the naturally growing green grass that had emerged after the cotton had been clipped. The buck sure liked it, since he kept his head down eating for what seemed an eternity.
“A few minutes passed and he still hadn't picked his head up,” Waldrop said. “So I scanned the rest of the field and then went back to him. This time, at 400 yards his head was up, looking over his shoulder and all I could see was tines and mass. I knew for sure he was a shooter then and my heart started pounding.”
Waldrop had to reposition in the makeshift blind.
“I was making all kinds of noise trying to get situated to make a shot,” he said. “I got laid down behind my rifle and all I could see was cotton stalks. So I had to adjust my bipod higher to clear the stalks and get him in my scope.”
Knowing the terrain from years of hunting in the area, Waldrop knew the distance. He estimated 400 yards, reached for his iPhone and opened the “Shooter” app and looked at the trajectory patterns for his load.
“It’s an app that I entered in the information for my rifle and my load and it instantly tells me how much elevation and windage to allow,” he said. “I shoot a Remington model 700 in a 7mm Rem Mag with a Vortex Viper Pst 6x24x50 ffp scope using 180-grain Berger Hybrid reloads. I came up 7.5 MOA of elevation (31 clicks) and the windage stayed the same.
“The buck was not broadside but sort of quartering to me and I hit him a little high, right where the neck meets the body. He didn’t go straight down but ran just a little way and I found him easily in a short time.”
What he found surprised him.
“I knew he was a good deer but I didn't know really how big he was until I found him,” Waldrop said. “His giant body took away from his antlers at a distance. He weighed in at 250 pounds even, and gross scored 167 7/8 inches unofficially.”
Click here to read about other big bucks killed this season.
And don’t forget about the Mississippi Sportsman Big Buck Photo Contest, which is free and offers great monthly Sportsman Gear prizes.