Eddie Harrell killed his first buck at Tallahalla Wildlife Management Area when he was only 12 years old.
That 9-point weighed 240 pounds, addicting the boy to hunting and a life-long pursuit of deer that eventually led Harrell to a giant 201-inch (Buckmaster) 15-point he took on took Dec. 1 in Scott County.
Harrell’s pursuit of the monster buck might have started when he was just a kid, but it really began in earnest four years ago when one of his trail cameras captured a photo of a promising buck.
Two years ago, he missed a shot at the buck, and last season, he nearly messed up the whole thing altogether when he got another shot two days before the season ended. A 350-yard shot from a shaky tripod stand just nicked the big buck’s leg.
“I prayed that I didn’t kill the deer last year,” Harrell said. “I finally spotted him on my game camera again, and was relieved to see that he survived. I was just hoping that he’d make it through another year.”
The buck was a 12-point last season and was still growing.
After missing that buck and another one from the shaky tripod stand last year Harrell built a new shooting house overlooking a quarter-mile wide green field.
“I recognized him on game-cam pictures this year and he was even better,” Harrell said. “I set my sights on him and started passing on everything else I saw.”
The buck became an obsession as Harrell hunted him every morning and afternoon finally glimpsing him earlier in the week. The shot was iffy and Harrell let the fleeting opportunity pass for fear of wounding the buck.
Harrell is an electrician by trade but is also a farmer and hunts his land. He raises chickens and cattle, and bales hay, so he’s around the farm and spends time there each day. He sees a lot of deer movement.
On Dec. 1, Harrell got in his stand about 2:30 p.m. and watched the food plot for any sign of a deer.
“At 4:20, two does came out and I noticed that they kept looking back into the woods,” said Harrell. “I hoped a buck was following them but didn’t know for sure.”
Harrell didn’t have to wait long.
“In 2 to 3 minutes, a big buck showed himself about 250 yards out and I watched him for a couple of minutes before I shot,” Harrell said. “When I shot he tucked his tail and ran out of sight.”
After waiting about 10 minutes Harrell got down and went to the shot location and couldn’t find any blood or sign of a hit. Another deer snorted at him from the direction the buck ran and Harrell didn’t know if it was the one he’d shot at or a doe.
“I knew I hit the deer but decided to let him lay a while so I wouldn’t push him if the shot wasn’t in the right spot,” he said.
After a sleepless night Harrell got up at 4 a.m., and went back to the stand. As soon as it got light he went straight to the shot sight and walked to where he heard the does the night before.
“I went about 100 yards into the thicket and found him, without seeing even a speck of blood,” Harrell said. “He’d bled on the inside — my shot was a little far back.”
This time Harrell had made a lethal shot with his 30-year-old 7MM Magnum Mossberg.
Harrell was astonished at the size of the buck. The massive rack sported 15 points and was scored at 201 7/8 Buckmasters by taxidermist Joey Murphey. The rack made the 205-pound body look small. It had an 18-inch inside spread, 25-inch main beams and was 20 1/4 inches outside spread.
“I’ve killed several good bucks over the last eight to 10 years and had no trouble killing a deer, you’ve just got to decide which one you’re going to take,” said Harrell. This one had become an obsession.
“This deer looked like he came out of Kansas or Missouri and I wouldn’t have dreamed he’d come out of here,” said Harrell. “I never believed that I’d get two or three chances at the same buck after four years of watching him, but I did and the third time was the charm.”
As it turned out Harrell’s obsession with this one deer may have led him to harvesting the biggest buck ever killed in Scott County. The Magnolia Records Program lists a non-typical best of 174 (185 7/8 gross) inches for the county and 151 6/8 (158 6/8 gross) typical.
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