For five years, Hannah Matthews said her deer hunting luck had been all bad, since her boyfriend Spencer Pierce had photos and other reports of big bucks on his hunting club in Yazoo County.
“Out of five years we have dated, I had never seen any of these ‘big deer’ in person,” said Matthews, who works at Mississippi State University in Starkville. “I guess I was bad luck.”
That all changed, and rapidly, on Dec. 5, when she and Pierce went hunting in the area where one of the elusive giants had been reported feeding in a lane right before dark. It was a big 9-point, and the end of Matthews’ long run of disappointment.
“This was the first year Spencer had seen this deer on his land,” Matthews said. “He showed up on a trail camera right after bow season started this year.”
She had a good feeling that weekend.
“I was super excited about this weekend,” Matthews said. “I just had this feeling that I was going to kill a big deer.
“We went hunting early that Saturday morning and saw quite a few deer, but nothing too big. I told Spencer, ‘I’m not killing one unless he can go on my wall.’
“I guess I was being a little sarcastic, but it paid off. We came back to the same box stand that afternoon about 3:30 p.m.”
The afternoon started slow.
“We didn’t see anything for a whole hour and then saw a little 6-point, feeding in the lane about 200 yards from us,” Matthews said. “I knew if there was one buck there had to be a bigger one not too far behind. Right?
“It was slowly getting dark. It was about 5 o’clock, but I kept the binoculars glued to my face. Finally, I saw him.”
She said a huge-bodied deer walked halfway into the lane, but in the rapidly darkening day, she could barely see what it was.
“I handed the binoculars over to Spencer hoping he could see a little better than me,” said Matthews, who picked up the .30-06 rifle loaded with a 180-grain bullet. “Next thing I hear is, ‘it’s him, it’s the big one shoot.’
“Frantically I threw up the gun trying to find him in the scope at 265 yards. I knew I couldn’t hesitate and probably didn’t have very much time, so I fired. He bolted so quick into the woods I knew I must have missed and just scared him. I was not feeling confident at all.”
Matthews and Pierce waited a while, and the conversation turned to ...
“About how I probably missed him especially with him being at such a far range,” she said. “We got down from the stand and started heading back to the truck then we hear something trying to move around in the thick brush and briars.
“I did a little happy dance.”
Matthews figured then that she had to have hit the big buck, but they couldn’t be sure if the shot was good enough for a clean kill.
“We tried not to spook him and eased on out of the woods,” she said. “We finally went back to the spot about three hours later. I was praying the whole ride back to the spot, ‘please let us find blood.’ I couldn’t let all these guys down! We get to the spot and sure enough, blood.”
The search didn’t take long. Following the blood trail 30 minutes, Matthews spotted the big deer’s body 35 yards from where he had been standing at the shot.
“I screamed with excitement; you would have thought I found a million dollars,” she said. “I looked at Spencer and said, ‘I know what I want for Christmas this year — him on my wall!”
The giant 255-pound buck was a main-frame 8-point with an extra sticker. The green score was an impressive 145 inches, and Matthews found it easy to pose inside the buck’s 18½-inch spread.
Said Matthews: “Merry Christmas to me and goodbye bad luck.”
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.