A long career as a labor and delivery nurse has taught Susie Taylor of Richland the importance of being patient, which paid off big time Dec. 5 in a buck of a lifetime.
Taylor isn’t your typical deer hunter. She is very selective about the quality of bucks she chooses to harvest. Her husband, Ken, has shown her the importance of quality deer management on their hunting lease in the hills of Jefferson County.
Together, they harvest an adequate number of does and allow younger bucks to grow to maturity.
But Susie’s patience and persistence at passing up shots on hundreds of young bucks had resulted in her not harvesting a single buck for the past three seasons, which was just fine by her. She knew her time would come if she stayed the course.
“Having spent the early part of the season hunting a hardwood bottom along a creek bank without much success, I decided to try something different,” she said. “The evening before, I told Ken that I was going to try my luck on the ridgetop food plot where we had seen some good deer sign.”
Don’t try to convince Susie that luck doesn’t play a big part in hunting success. She receives constant ribbing from the other hunters in camp regarding her lucky hat, an old army BDU camo hat that she took from Ken several years ago and refuses to return because it has brought her so much good luck.
“I was wearing my lucky hat every single time I have killed a buck,” she said. “It has always brought me good luck.”
Just before dawn on Dec. 5, Susie climbed into a box stand overlooking a long, narrow food plot with her lucky hat protecting her from the crisp morning air. At 7:10, a small 8-point buck made his way across the food plot about 200 yards from her stand. Five minutes later, a trio of bucks (a spike, a 4-point, and a 6-point) came out single file only 50 yards from Taylor’s stand before disappearing into the timber. Soon afterwards, she heard what sounded like deer snorting and antlers crashing together.
“I wasn’t sure what all the racket was about, but I was excited at having seen so many bucks,” she said. “Even though none of the bucks were shooters, I kept hoping a bigger buck was nearby and would be attracted by all the activity.”
Barely 30 minutes had passed when a flicker of movement to the right caught Taylor’s eye. It was a deer moving through the timber towards the fight that was taking place just out of sight on the opposite side of the food plot. As she got her gun up in preparation, the buck stepped out into the food plot only 100 yards away.
“I didn’t know how many points he had, I just knew he was huge,” Taylor said. “There was no doubt he was a shooter.”
She knew she had to stop the buck if she was to get a clean shot, so she grunted at him while simultaneously finding his shoulder with the crosshairs of her Leopold Vari-X III scope.
As if on cue, the monster stopped in his tracks and looked directly at Taylor. That short pause was all she needed to send the 130-grain, .270-caliber Hornady boat tail bullet from her Ruger Model 77 rifle on its way.
At the report of the rifle, the big buck simply trotted off as if it had been a clean miss.
“I couldn’t believe he didn’t drop in his tracks,” Taylor said. “I was positive I had the crosshairs settled on his shoulder, but when he didn’t even flinch, I began to second guess myself.”
Crawling down from the stand, Susie made her way to where the buck had been standing at the shot. Locating a set of big hoof prints, she followed the tracks to the edge of the plot and spotted a small drop of blood. A few steps further revealed a larger drop, then another. As she looked deeper down the trail, she spotted a brown rump sticking out from behind a tree.
With her heart pounding, she cautiously approached the downed buck. Her cautiousness was unnecessary; the buck had only made it 40 yards before piling up from a perfectly placed shot.
“It wasn’t until I actually got my hands on his antlers and started counting the points that I realized just how big he really was,” Taylor said. “I could hardly believe it was real. My lucky hat had come through for me once again.”
The massive 5½-year-old, 18-pointer would later green score a whopping 192½ inches of antler. With 5 ½-inch bases, a 16-inch inside spread, 25-inch main beams, and extremely long thick tines (12¾-inch G2s and 13-inch G3s), this brute is a trophy whitetail in anybody’s book.
Taylor is one labor nurse that certainly knows how to deliver when it comes to big bucks.
Especially when she’s wearing her lucky hat.
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.