Ask Andy Fly his favorite part of the amazing 17-point buck he killed Sunday (Jan. 3), and the answer might surprise you.

No, it’s not the 4-inch drop tine, which is something that the Coffeeville hunter — as all hunters do — has always wanted.

No, it’s not that the non-typical buck green scores 169 inches and change, though that’s a high number for Yalobusha County, or anywhere else for that matter.

And, no, it’s not the impressive mass this rack displays, starting at 7.5 inches at the bases and carrying out 7 inches most of the way on the left main beam.

“It’s that I got him public land hunting, a do-it-yourself, drive-in, park and walk-in-to-the-brush hunt,” Fly said. “It was one of those hunts where you just go hunting, climb up a tree and see what happens.”

For Fly, what happened on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property near the Torrence Landing area of Grenada Lake is nothing short of spectacular.

“I had hunted there a lot five to six years ago and I actually killed a 17-inch 8-point that I thought was a pretty good deer for public lands,” he said. “It’s not like you can hang cameras or put up stands in there because some hoodlums will just take them. There is no way to try and get pictures of deer like you can at a private club.

“But, a couple of years ago, a buddy of mine, Jess Edwards, found a monster shed in there so we kind of knew there was a big deer around there, so I guess you could say we were kind of hunting him without knowing if he was alive or had been killed.”

Basically, Fly said he drove down a gravel road, got out and walked into the bushes. Being part of the bottomland of a flood control lake makes the area extremely thick with small trees and buck brush.

“I hunt from a climber, but I only go four or five feet up,” he said. “You go any higher and you can’t see through the thick canopy of the low tree line. I just try to get high enough to see through it and find a few shooting lanes. The higher you climb, the less you can see. I guess I was about five feet up the tree.”

Fly was in that situation at 7 a.m. when he heard a twig snap.

“There’s all kind of limbs and twigs on the ground in there and I’d heard a bunch of squirrels playing that morning, and when I heard that twig snap, I knew it was something different,” he said. “I told myself, ‘that’s got to be a deer.”

He began looking in the direction of the noise, and eventually picked out what appeared to be part of a deer’s body.

“It’s hard to describe how much that deer blended into the brush,” Fly said. “But I finally made out part of its neck. That’s all I could see, where his neck ran up to its head and down to its shoulder. The rest of it was camouflaged into the brush. I had to draw the outline of the body in my head and I eventually could make him out.”

Seeing it was a mature buck, Fly didn’t waste much time getting his 7 mm mag into shooting position.

“He was directly downwind from me,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it, but that 6 ½-year-old buck was coming in from downwind, and that’s peculiar behavior for a mature buck. The wind was hitting me dead in the face and I was facing the buck.”

Realizing the problem, Fly found the neck in the scope, felt good about the shot and squeezed off the shot.

“I had a good 70- to 75-yard shot at his neck and I felt good about it,” he said.

The shot was perfect, striking the buck near the base of the neck. The bullet then travelled down through what Fly called “his boiler room, hitting the lungs and the heart.”

A strong animal, the buck was still able to turn and run back into the woods.

“He stormed out of there but never passed another opening for a shot, and there weren’t many,” Fly said. “I could hear him good even though I couldn’t see him and I heard him crash. I knew he went down.”

But there was soon some second-guessing.

“I went down to where he was standing and I couldn’t find any blood,” Fly said. “I looked around the direction he ran and I couldn’t find any blood. I was starting to worry, so I picked up my Nikon binoculars and just looked around. It didn’t take long for me to see him in the woods, where his antlers and his belly stuck out pretty good.

“I almost fainted when I got to him. He was a lot bigger than I ever imagined I’d get in those woods. He must have just gotten up out of his bed because he still had some frost on his antlers. That was pretty neat walking up and seeing that, too.”

The buck’s amazing mass, long tines and drop tine make it a one-in-a-lifetime type buck. The main beams are completely different, but Fly appreciates that.

“They’re different but they are both awesome in their own way, and the right one matches the shed Jess found, only without the drop tine” he said. “The right side has the drop tine. The left side has all the other abnormalities including the split G3 and the palmation that produces so much of the mass.

“Another great thing is the color. The rack has that chocolate look to it, which we don’t see much around here. Yep, that and the fact that I killed it on public land make it so special.”

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.