Holt Martin, a recent Mississippi State University graduate, was intrigued by Mississippi’s first velvet buck season and decided to give it a try. This avid bowhunter from Lake Providence, La., spotted a nice buck a couple of years ago on property he hunts in Issaquena County, but passed on him in favor of older more mature bucks.
Mississippi’s first special velvet season was a three-day hunt and after the second day Martin had two strikes against him and it wasn’t looking good on the final afternoon, Sept. 18, with hot weather and everything seemingly going against him.
“Everything started in the worst possible way as I’d left my release at the truck, so I had to go back and get it,” Martin said. “I bumped a deer on the way in and got back to the stand at 4:45 p.m. and the wind direction was wrong and not what was predicted.”
Martin didn’t see a deer in the food plot until 6:30 and it didn’t seem to get better. His hunting buddy texted him at 7 p.m. and asked if he’d seen much.
“Nope, it’s not happening today,” Martin said. “Then I looked up a few minutes later and he was looking directly at me. I’d killed his running buddy last year, a 9-point that scored 157 Pope and Young and he’d really put on some mass this year.”
Waiting for the right moment
The velvet buck continued to feed in the food plot facing directly at Martin and the veteran bowhunter was feeling the tension mount as he waited for a better broadside shot. Time stood still as the buck stayed put.
Suddenly another buck came in behind the velvet buck and Martin was ready for the moment of truth.
“The velvet buck turned to look at the other buck that had come in behind him and when he showed me his shoulder I drew, put the pin on him and released the arrow,” Martin said.
The Rage Broadhead smacked the buck and he jumped at impact and stopped about 10 yards away and just looked around.
“He stood there a short time and I saw he was bleeding pretty bad and then he just collapsed,” Martin said. “Everything seemed to go against me that afternoon, but it changed suddenly as he showed up and offered me a killing shot at 7:09.”
The 10-point buck weighed 215 pounds and was aged at 5 1/2-years-old and scored an impressive 163 3/8.
“We hunt 3000 acres of land that is split by Louisiana and Mississippi so I decided to hunt the Mississippi portion and see if I could get a velvet buck,” Martin said. “I told my dad that I was really excited to kill him, but I wished I could’ve hunted him more too.”
Dead deer don’t grow antlers
Most trophy bucks are hard to come by and hunters are elated to finally harvest them if they are fortunate enough to get the opportunity. Though he’d spotted the buck a couple years ago and passed on him numerous times, even once last year, he’d actually been targeting other bucks.
This year the velvet buck rose to the top of Martin’s hit list just before the special velvet season but his quest didn’t last long. The triumph of harvesting a trophy buck hadn’t subsided yet before Martin had a bit of remorse that the chase had ended so soon.
Though his velvet buck quest lasted only one weekend, the work actually started much earlier, as he put in the time in the stand and in the woods for several years in preparation for this harvest. He’s prepared food plots, put up game cameras and let the buck live to reach maturity.
“We planted wheat around the first or second week of August and he had been eating there since the food plot came up,” Martin said. “He came to the plot the same time every morning and afternoon just like clockwork. I followed him on my Tactacam Reveal XB game camera.
“I actually shot the buck with my new Mathews V3X bow, the first deer I’d ever shot with it. It was just a special hunt and to kill him with my new bow was just icing on the cake!”