Bowhunter comes to full draw three times before killing trophy buck

The third time was the charm.

Derek Eaves of Louisville drew his Elite Kure bow twice, trying to get a shot at a big buck the afternoon of Oct. 5 in Noxubee County. He was waiting for the 142-inch 10-pointer to take one last, fatal step into the open, but both times, the buck stayed put, and he had to let the bow down.

The third time he drew back, however, the buck had moved into a perfect spot, and at 25 yards, Eaves, a director for the Mississippi Bowhunters Association, finally made a killing shot.

So Junior is dead and Blade is next on Eaves’ hit list.

Those were two bucks that Eaves nicknamed after having them in plenty of trail-camera photos leading up to the Oct. 1 opening of Mississippi’s archery season. The afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 4, he drew on Blade, a buck he said is at least 5 1/2 years old and even bigger than Junior. But it was after 7 p.m., dark enough that he didn’t feel like he could see well enough through his bow’s peep sight to make a killing shot.

The next day

So Eaves, 45, was back the next afternoon, in the same Millennium lock-on stand, 15 feet up in a pine tree, overlooking a place he had been spinning out supplemental feed for months.

“Part of the place I hunt is in a pine plantation, maybe 15 to 20 years old, and behind it is a hardwood draw. I’ve got another stand down there for when the acorns begin to fall,” Eaves said. “In the trail-cam photos, Blade was coming out from the right, and I had the perfect wind, but one deer started blowing from behind me at 5:30. Then, a second one started blowing at 6. The wind was kind of swirling around, and I figured, I’ve had two deer blow at me, I might as well get down.

“But I heard something behind me on the ridge — I heard something take a step about every five minutes, and I figured it was Blade, waiting for it to get dark before he came in. Then, I heard something jump a ditch, so I stood up and put my hand on my bow, and it was a spike buck that came walking in. He got ‘em all in trouble. Then, I heard a little more movement, walking, and a small 10-pointer came in. But five steps behind him was Junior. They never knew I was around. He walked up broadside, but his head got on the other side of a tree. I drew then, and I held it for a minute waiting for him to move, but my arm started shaking, and my heart was pounding, so I had to let it down.

The waiting game

“I sat down for three or four minutes, and he walked in perfect, and I drew and held for 20 or 25 seconds, but he turned back, and I had to let it down again. Then, another came up, and he did a snort-wheeze. I’d never heard it before. I thought it was Blade. When he did it, all the deer jumped and ran about 15 feet. Then I could hear him and another buck start rattling and pushing. I asked myself, if Junior gives me a shot, do I take it, or do I wait and see if it’s Blade doing the fighting. But then, I could see them, and it was a 6-(pointer) and an 8-(pointer).

“Junior took a step to the right, behind a tree, then he turned to the left and I drew. He was 25 yards, and I put the pin on his front shoulder, and it stroked him. My hands were shaking; my legs were shaking.”

Eaves figured he had a good hit, and he waited about 15 minutes before getting down. He quickly found his arrow, but instead of being covered in blood, it was covered in green and yellow matter, the contents of the buck’s stomach.

Locating the buck

“I backed out and texted a buddy, Bart Chancellor, who runs Smoke, one of the best tracking dogs in Mississippi,” he said. “I backed out and went back to the truck, went home, and came back at 10:30. The dog found him in five minutes, 120 yards away. We went about 25 yards from where I shot him, and we stopped, and the dog went on in, and then the dog’s collar pinged, and it pinged again, and kept pinging, and he had stopped — 95 yards in front of us. Bart said, ‘Let’s go get your deer.’”

Eaves’ shot was not as bad as the junk on the shaft of the Carbon Express Maxima Red SD shaft would have indicated. Eaves’ shot took the buck through the lungs, but the arrow, tipped with a Slick Trick broadhead, ranged back and down through the stomach on the way out.

“I don’t know if he moved at the last second, or if he was quartering a little more than I thought he was, but it went through his lungs and then his stomach,” Eaves said.

The buck, now in the hands of taxidermist Tommy Armstrong of Kosciusko, was measured and earned a green-gross score of 142 inches. It had main beams measuring 21 1/2 and 23 inches long, a 16-inch inside spread and multiple long tines, the longest measuring 9 1/2 inches.

Eaves said he isn’t about to take a pass on trying to slap a tag on Blade, and “I had a couple of other hit-list bucks at another spot,” he said. “I want my girlfriend (Lacey Jones Vowell) to kill one, too.”

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Dan Kibler
About Dan Kibler 72 Articles
Dan Kibler is managing editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has been writing about the outdoors since 1985.

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