Canton’s Elizabeth Ratcliff didn’t want to shoot the huge Madison County buck. Well, more accurately she really wanted her boyfriend Jimmy Greer to kill it.
But Greer had his shot during the 2010-11 season, and missed.
Ratcliff made her shot count on Dec. 1 when the 147-inch 11-point stepped out.
The big buck was first seen last year on trail camera on the little five-acre tract of land Greet had purchased just east of Canton. At that time, it was a big 10-point that made Greer and Ratcliff salivate.
They quickly set up a food plot and started hunting it, and Greer saw it in person twice.
The first time was right at dark in November, and an excited Greer missed the shot.
And then his love of Ratcliff, who goes by deerslayer2208 on the MS-Sportsman.com forum, cost him a second shot.
“The next week I wasn’t ale to hunt, and I begged him not to hunt my plot,” Ratcliff said. “Unfortunately, he listened to me and didn’t hunt it.”
Instead, he climbed a tree inside the woods from which he could see the food plot and Ratcliff’s stand.
“At 3:30 that afternoon, he watched the deer walk 20 yards from my stand,” Ratcliff said. “He was sending me messages that said, ‘I can’t believe I listened to you.’
“Maybe it was a sign I was supposed to kill it.”
The deer’s image was captured on trail cam one more time, at 2 a.m. on Jan. 1.
And then the deer simply disappeared. It didn’t show up again on their trail cam, and the couple thought they had lost the deer for good.
“We thought for sure somebody else got him,” Ratcliff said.
And then she got a text from Greer on Nov. 30.
“It was a picture of a buck,” Ratcliff said.
Turned out to be the same buck, which was carrying an even larger rack that had sprouted an extra kicker.
That stoked the fires again, and both hunters determined to be on the stand the following afternoon. They quietly moved Greer’s climber to the location where the trail cam had captured the photo of the big deer, hopeful it would make a return appearance.
“He was so excited,” Ratcliff said. “I told his mom I just hoped the deer walked out in front of him.”
Greer ratcheted up the tree about 3 p.m. on Dec. 1, but Ratcliff was a bit more lackadaisical.
“I don’t like to get up there too early because I get bored,” she admitted.
But she eased to the food-plot stand about 3:30, and waited to watch a doe and yearling that had a schedule on which a clock could be set.
“Every day they’re out there, rain or shine,” Ratcliff said.
The two deer showed up, but by 4:30 the hunter was a bit bored and so she logged into her Facebook account and decided to share the trial-cam photo of the big buck.
She also spent time texting Greer.
And then at 5 p.m. Ratcliff’s attention was grabbed by a deer that popped out on the food plot.
It was a doe, but something didn’t seem quite right.
“She didn’t stop; she didn’t slow up,” Ratcliff said. “It was like she was on a mission.”
Ratcliff was about to text Greer, describing the doe’s action and how it was really dark. And then she heard something strange.
“Before I could text him, I heard a deer grunt,” she said. “I’ve been hunting 14 years and I’ve never heard a grunt. When I heard it, it scared me to death.”
But she quickly grabbed her rifle to be prepared for a shot, and it didn’t take long to find the source of the wild sound.
“All I saw was his feet and his body,” Ratcliff said.
A tree obscured the view of the deer’s head, and that was fine with the now-excited hunter.
“I was, like, ‘Please don’t put your head in my scope,’” Ratcliff said.
By the size of the body, she suspected it was the big boy.
“I thought, ‘There’s no way this deer is walking out in front of me,’” Ratcliff said.
In fact, she quietly hoped it wasn’t the buck Greer had hunted so hard.
The buck finally stepped clear of the tree, and antlers filled the scope mounted atop Ratcliff’s .308.
“I started shaking,” she said. “I thought, ‘Should I shoot him?’”
She was honestly a bit worried her boyfriend might be upset if she took the beastly deer. But that concern was quickly overcome by her killing instinct.
“I said, ‘He’s going to have to be mad. There’s no way I’m going to let this deer walk,’” Ratcliff laughed.
As the deer approached the other side of the plot, Ratcliff put the crosshairs on the animal’s neck and squeezed off a shot.
“He dropped in his tracks,” she said.
Ratcliff was almost overcome with the enormity of the kill.
“I couldn’t breath,” she said. “I couldn’t talk. I was halfway crying and halfway laughing.”
She grabbed her phone and called Greer, who could barely understand her.
“I said, ‘Please don’t be made! Please don’t be mad! I think I got him,’” Ratcliff said.
Greer said he was climbing down his tree and would be there in a few minutes.
Ratcliff next called her mother, who is a hunter and began asking questions about the buck that the younger Ratcliff couldn’t answer because she was still in the stand.
“I said, ‘I can’t get out of the stand; my legs are shaking so bad, Momma, they won’t work,’” she said.
Finally, she was able to clamber out of the box stand and walked up to the deer. She couldn’t believe what the set of antlers crowning the buck’s head.
And then she saw Greer coming through the woods. Her concerns about his reaction returned.
“He threw both of his arms up in the air and gave me two thumbs up,” Ratcliff said. “You would have thought I’d won the lottery.”
Greer was ecstatic that she had nailed the big deer.
The buck’s antlers were just enormous, with heavy main beams that nearly touched at the tips.
The inside spread was only about 18 inches, but G3s stretched about 9 inches and the hunter could hardly get her hands around the main beams.
“He just has a lot of mass,” Ratcliff said.
The 232-pound buck was green scored by a taxidermist at 147 7/8 inches Boone & Crockett.
Be sure to pick up the January issue of Mississippi Sportsman magazine to read about the hunt in Ratcliff’s own words.
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