Billy McKee and his appropriately named son Gunner of Terry can make a claim that few other deer hunters can — they collected 262 inches of antler with two shots in five minutes.
From the same stand.
And, with the same gun.
That’s right, on Saturday, two days after Thanksgiving, the McKees killed two bucks in a very short period of time. Gunner, 12, killed a (rough-scored) 121-inch 8-point buck. Billy took the same .30-06 Ruger and shot a 141-inch 11-point.
“I told Gunner, ‘son, we aren’t likely ever going to do that again,’” Billy McKee said.
Nobody else will, either.
The story starts on Thanksgiving Day, when the two hunters headed to their Jasper County hunting club on family land.
“We arrived at our camp on Thursday just in time to go check some trail cams,” Dad said. “When we checked a particular camera we had overlooking a scrape, we were excited to see that we had several different bucks visiting it, two of which were shooters and on our hit list. We had a general idea as to where we believed the deer were bedding, and the direction to which we could expect them to come from. So all we had to do was wait on the right wind, and go hunt.”
Friday didn’t work due to the wind, but Saturday …
“Saturday evening, we checked the weather app and it called for the wind we needed, so off we went,” McKee said. “With the weather being rather warm, and the moon being full, we did not have very high hopes. And, on top of that, once we were in the stand, we realized the wind was actually terrible for where we expected the deer to come from.”
They decided to just ride it out and sit in the two-man stand until dark.
“Gunner was going to be the trigger man that evening, so I did not bring my gun along,” McKee said. “His is a Ruger .30-06 bolt action. Honestly, I didn’t feel very good about our chances.”
But they made the most of it, even joking about what they might do if the two shooters showed up.
“We were even picking with one another about the possibility of seeing both of the bigger deer, what we were going to do should they both show up, and how we were going to get them both,” McKee said. “Not in a million years did we think it was a possibility.”
Yet, then it happened.
“About a quarter to 5, we saw a nice buck walking in the pines, roughly 80 yards away, and realized it was a shooter,” McKee said. “We were able to see that the buck had good tines, and appeared to be the 8 point we were after. I gave Gunner the green light to take the shot. So he knocked the safety off, and squeezed the trigger.
“We saw the famous ‘mule kick’ and knew that he had a good shot on him.”
The pair were hugging and high-fiving trying to be quiet, until …
“I noticed a figure that I didn't recall being there — I am constantly scanning the woods and knew that blob wasn’t there earlier — so I picked up my binoculars for a better look,” McKee said. “Guess who it was — it was the other big shooter we had on camera. He was standing like a statue staring at us. I could not believe I was looking at him. It was less than five minutes.
“Gunner, at this point realized what was going on, and that it was the other shooter, so he quietly chambered another round in his rifle. He passed the gun to me, giving me the opportunity to take the shot.”
At the shot, McKee said the big buck lunged forward and took off in the same direction that Gunner’s deer had gone.
“At this point, we were not even trying to be quiet anymore; we were in full celebration mode,” he said. “We both could not believe what had just happened. We gained our composure, got out of the tree, and took off on the track.”
McKee said he wasn’t expecting to find the deer without help, after all there were two to find and both had disappeared from sight.
“We had one little flashlight between us but we got down and went and looked and was ready to go back to the camp and get my dad and others to help,” he said. “But, right before we did that, I told Gunner we should make one little lap through the pines and see what we could find. It was pretty thin in there.
“One of the coolest parts of the whole thing is that both deer had piled up and expired in the same exact spot. They both were laying only a couple feet apart where we found them. They both ran 60 yards and died just feet apart. It was crazy.”
Jasper County in Southeast Mississippi is rich in deer quantity, but not so much in quality.
“I’ve hunted this camp since before I was Gunner’s age; it’s a deer camp but it’s on my family’s land,” McKee said. These were the biggest deer either of us had taken at our family club. To have it all happen in the way it did, with him, makes it that much more special.”
Both had matching 16-inch inside spreads, and both sported right at 21-inch main beams. With 11 points and a bit more mass, Dad’s deer measured out higher than the son’s, 141 inches to 121 inches.
“We’re still on cloud nine about this,” McKee said on Monday. “I bet he’s got a story to share with his (7th grade) class at Copiah Academy.”
Shoot, it’s a story that they can both tell the rest of their lives.