Thirteen-year-old boys grow pretty quickly, practically all of them in size and some in savvy.
On Nov. 22, on his first hunt of the 2017-18 deer season, and his first alone in a deer stand, Joseph Blalock of Brookhaven found out that he had grown significantly in both ways, overcoming one and displaying the other, perhaps more important trait, in taking one of the most impressive bucks in Mississippi this year.
The main-frame 12-point — with 17 scorable points and about five more that don’t qualify for scoring but do hold a ring — grosses 205 6/8 inches as green-scored by a certified Boone & Crockett scorer, who estimates a final net of about 191 to 192 inches after deductions.
All of it happened on a well-managed, small tract of family land in Franklin County, hunting with his father Tyler Blalock, an EMT, who carried his son from his Rural Rapid Response Thanksgiving Party to the deer stand for an afternoon hunt.
“It was my first hunt of the season, and as we were putting our camouflage on, I realized I had outgrown my camo from last year,” Joseph Blalock said. “I had to use my step-mom’s.”
After the wardrobe adjustment, the Blalocks, dad and son, began strategizing the hunt.
“We talked about which stand I should hunt and how the wind would affect my hunt,” Joseph Blalock said. “We finally decided I would hunt a new stand, and my dad would hunt on the river stand. We talked a little more and discussed what to call the new stand. That evening we decided to call it the ‘Cross Stand’ because the food plot makes a crisscross pattern.”
That crisscross pattern would factor in the hunt later — much later in teenage time — the first two hours were uneventful, and tedious for Joseph, who found ways to entertain himself.
“I struggled to shut the door, which was bent due to the weather warping the wood,” he said. “The first hour I watched a handful of turkeys feed across the food plots my dad and I prepared earlier this year. I played with a wasp that was too cold to play back, and broke some dirt dauber nests off the corner of the stand.
“By the second hour, I was playing on my phone and watching YouTube. I had to read the subtitles because I knew I could not turn the volume up without scaring any incoming deer away.”
Finally, at about 4:30, a solitary doe entered the field.
“I watched as she walked on and off the food plot,” he said. “My dad and I were texting back and forth as I told him about the doe. He asked if she put her tail up before she ran. I said yes, she did.”
Worried that he had spooked the doe, ruining his afternoon hunt, Joseph Blalock was somewhat on edge. But, boy, did things change quickly and his anxiety lasted only seconds.
“About then, I turned to see if anything was behind me,” he said. “There were two deer that had slipped out from the brush east of me. A big buck and a spike walked out at the same time and the same place. My first instinct was to grab my gun.
“I slipped my rifle up instantly because I knew that the buck standing before me was at least a good 8-point, but I had no idea how great of a buck he really was.”
Worried that the buck would not be in the open for long, young Blalock acted quickly. The food plot was a set of narrow lanes and it wouldn’t be long before the buck was out of sight.
“I shot him the first chance I got,” Joseph said. “He wasn’t broadside, so I ended up shooting him in the neck so he wouldn’t run off. I lined up the rifle my dad built for me, remembering all the important rules he taught me when shooting a deer. I squeezed the trigger and shot. He dropped in his tracks at about 70 yards.
“Just a minute before, I was wondering if my hunt would end with a doe walking out of the field. “Then, BAM! The deer of a lifetime walked out.”
A single shot from the AR-15 chambered in 6.8 SPC did the job. The buck dropped where he stood ,and Joseph Blalock reached for his phone and text his dad.
“He texted me, and I called him,” Tyler Blalock said. “I could tell by the text he was excited because he wasn’t making any sense. I called him, and he said, ‘Daddy, I don’t know how big he is, but he’s outside the ears and he is really tall.’”
Tyler Blalock was wasting his time when he told the son to stay in the stand and wait for him to arrive. Joseph Blalock just had to go see the buck immediately.
“I walked across the field, and I counted 18 points at first,” he said. “I sent my dad a picture, which sped him up. I was so excited when he got there and we counted 20 points. We both freaked out.
“Dad left to go get the truck, but I stayed because I thought it was all a dream and I would wake up if I rode to the cabin with him. When my dad got back, he drove me and the deer up to the cabin.”
That’s when Blalock realized the full measure of what he had accomplished. People had begun to gather, and were waiting for the triumphant arrival.
“The news of killing a big deer must travel fast, because within 20 minutes, there was a crowd of about 13 people congratulating me,” he said. “All of the neighbors told us about how they had seen him on game cameras since this summer. They told us how the deer would stay on their land in the summer and would disappear when hunting season began.”
Three scoring sessions indicate the buck’s gross score is at the 200-inch mark, or just above it.
“We had a gross green score of 1996/8,” Tyler Blalock said. “One was 203⅜ and one was 2056/8. So, he’s right around 200.”
The score sheet from the largest measurement shows an inside spread of 183/8 inches, and main beams of 25 and 256/8 inches. The right side had seven typical points; the left had five. The five non-typical points, all on the left beam, totaled 136/8 inches.
“I must admit, I’m still wondering if this was a dream,” Joseph Blalock said.
Click here to read other big-buck stories from this season.