Carter goes old school on Stone County trophy

Kyle Carter took this 133-inch, tall and thick trophy buck in Stone County on public land at the Desoto National Forest.
Kyle Carter took this 133-inch, tall and thick trophy buck in Stone County on public land at the Desoto National Forest. (Photos courtesy Kyle Carter)

Basic techniques yield 133-inch 10-pointer on public land

Kyle Carter is old school when it comes to deer hunting with a bow, and he deserves an A for both comprehension and application of the pure basics of the sport.

By finding the buck’s food source, identifying its main trail, and following the path to its bedding area, Carter was able to produce one of the best trophies ever taken in Stone County.

He did all this on public land at Desoto National Forest.

The 10-point, which Carter had hunted the previous two seasons as an 8, has a very tall and thick rack that green scores at 133 inches. If it holds that measurement through the 60-day drying period, it would be the highest-ranked buck taken by a bow — and No. 5 by any method — in Stone County, according to Magnolia Records. Stone is not known for producing big bucks, and that it came on public land makes it even more of a trophy.

Desoto National Forest

“I have been hunting Desoto National Forest for about 10 years, and it is 100 percent open to the public,” said Carter, of Pascagoula. “There’s not a lot of foliage out there for the deer to eat, being as how it’s mostly pine and briars with a few scrub oaks. I always look for muscadine and persimmon trees producing during bow season.

“This year, I found a good food source and set up multiple cameras on different trails leading to that food source. I got a picture of the big deer, and I believed it to be the same big 8-point I have been trying to kill for a couple of years. He turned into a 10-point (with four stickers) this year.”

After finding the muscadine vines and persimmon trees, Carter moved in, only to find he had more work to do.

“I set up on the food sources, but he wasn’t moving and feeding in daylight,” he said. “So, I pinpointed his main trail and was able to identify his bedding area.”

Analyzing camera data, Carter said he was able to precisely pattern the buck.

“I found which trail he was using and that started the domino effect that allowed me to find his bedding area,” he said. “I was hoping to get as close as I could to his bedding area without disturbing him so I could get a shot at him in good shooting light.”

It worked.

The hunt

On the afternoon of Oct. 23, Carter spotted the buck on its main trail, which ran through a bay bottom between two pine ridges. He heard the buck long before he saw it.

“I got in the stand at 2:30 and shot it at 5:35,” he said. “I could hear it coming from my left, loud footsteps coming down the ridge. When I was finally able to put motion to the sound, all I could see was antlers over the top of gallberry bushes. It looked like a rocking chair upside down going over the bushes.

“That bottom is so thick, you can’t see through the gallberries. It took a long time before I could ever see hair. All I could see for a long time was antlers.”

Carter liked what he saw, big tall tines rising above the brush, yet he was able to control his emotions.

“When he came in, he moved so cautiously and nervously that it took him 30 to 40 minutes to go about 50 yards,” he said. “On the first good shooting lane, I drew back on my bow, but he staged up behind a tree. All I could see was his head. I had to hold full draw for 6 or 7 minutes until he turned his head so I could collapse.

“I took some deep breaths and recollected my thoughts. There’s a small creek ditch running through the bottom and when he cleared that, he wasn’t as nervous and came on up toward the ridge where the food sources were. I drew the bow the first chance I got, lined him up in my peep (sight) and let it fly. It was a 42-yard shot.”

And, it was perfect.

The recovery

“The shot felt good, but, due to how high I was in my tree, the steep angle made the arrow exit his stomach cavity even though it entered his lungs,” Carter said. “I got in touch with Cindy and Vaughn King and they brought two of the best blood trail dogs in the Southeast, Blue and Chief. They made quick work of the track and found my deer within 5 minutes. He had gone between 130 and 150 yards.”

Carter was using a Hoyt Maxxis 35 bow with 80-pound limbs. He shoots Easton Carbon Bowfire arrows with 100-grain, 2½-inch Grim Reaper broadheads.

Carter has killed two bigger bucks, both with primitive weapons and both at another public area on Sunflower Wildlife Management Area in the Delta.

“I like hunting public land and it’s like a passion,” he said. “Up there I have taken a 140-inch 9-point and a 135-inch 8-point both with primitive weapon season they have at Sunflower around Christmas.”

Carter said he hasn’t always been the conscientious hunter that he has become.

“When I was younger, I was bad about taking a bucket of corn out and spreading it, then sitting and watching it and waiting,” he said. “Then I learned to hunt and I have found out that if you do it right, hunting natural sources and working to pattern a deer, you will see a lot more deer and bigger deer.”

Bobby Cleveland
About Bobby Cleveland 1222 Articles
Bobby Cleveland has covered sports in Mississippi for over 40 years. A native of Hattiesburg and graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Cleveland lives on Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson with his wife Pam.

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