Matt Powe’s buck is a sure-enough trophy for Pearl River County in Southeast Mississippi.
Hey, at 148 inches, it’s a giant 8-point for anywhere.
Killed Nov. 28, the 6½-year-old buck is the fourth biggest buck killed in Pearl River County, according to the Magnolia Records Program.
“There’s two 12-points and an 11-point that scored higher in the county, but he’s definitely the biggest 8,” said Powe, who lives in Carriere and works for Folger’s Coffee in New Orleans — “I don’t drink coffee; I have to smell it all day,” he joked.
Powe has a long history with the buck, dating back to 2012, when he first saw and got pictures of what he thought was a 2½-year-old basket 8-point.
“Turns out, he was just 1½ years old at that time, since we aged his jawbone this year at 6½,” Powe said. “That’s a pretty good young buck around here.”
Powe didn’t see the buck in 2013, and he’s sure he’d have recognized it.
“It’s got a lot of white color on his legs all the way to his feet and I’m sure I’d have known him if I saw him,” he said. “We moved some cams over to the other side of the road and then started getting pictures of him again. In 2014, he was an 8-point, maybe 115 to 120 inches.”
That’s still a good buck for Pearl River County, but one that showed great potential if left alone.
“He became a 9-point in 2015 with lots more length, height and mass, probably about 150 inches, and in 2016, last year, he was still a 9-point, and we had him at about 156 inches,” Powe said.
It was time to harvest the buck, and the hunter moved in to this one particular area where trail cams had captured the most images of it during daytime.
“The property is mostly pine timberland that has been in the family a long time,” Powe said. “There are some hardwoods in there that produce some food, but other than that I don’t know what he was eating. There’s a big thicket across a fence on a neighbor’s property and I really think that’s where he was living.
“Most of our pictures of him had him coming from the west to the east across that fence, so I went in there last year and set up a stand and started hunting him on southeast winds.”
The game was on.
“I got one good look at him during the season and he was traveling with a smaller buck, like he usually did,” Powe said. “The younger buck got spooked and jumped right when the bigger deer had gotten behind a big tree. The bucks turned and walked away, and he kept that tree between us. I didn’t want to force it so I let him walk away.
“I saw him one more time and could have killed him then. It was early February, but he had already shed one side of his antlers. I passed.”
Powe said the big buck was peculiar for Southeast Mississippi, not just for his size, but because he always dropped antlers in February, when most bucks don’t shed until April.
“Of course, that means he started growing antlers earlier than other bucks, too, and by April, he already had brow tines growing,” he said.
Fast forward to the 2017 deer season. Powe was determined more than ever to take the buck, and carried lessons from his 2016 failures to the woods.
“We had pictures and he was still in the same area, on the same pattern,” he said. “He had dropped the 9th point and was back to an 8, which is why I think he scored just 148. He had the same width, height and length.
“I decided to back off on him after last year, when I hunted him so hard. This year I moved the stand back 20 yards and I quit hunting as often. I hunted him only five days in archery and two days in the gun season before I killed him.”
The story of the kill is, in Powe’s words, “kind of boring.”
With a southeast wind, Powe liked his chances.
“It was hot and dry so I went at 1 o’clock, and he was the first deer I saw,” he said. “He came out at 5 o’clock and I shot him before he had a chance to leave. I shot him immediately.”
At 30 yards, the buck was no match for the .30-30.
“I could have killed him with a bow at that distance, and he would have been the biggest bow kill in the county,” Powe said.
The 200-pound buck green scored 148 and with great symmetry, there wasn’t much deduction. The main beams were 24 and 24 2/8 inches, the G2s 11 2/8 and 10 6/8, and the G3s both right at 9 inches. The inside spread measured 19 7/8 inches.
Click here to read other big-buck stories from this season.