Dorner’s 2nd-chance buck a beauty

Daniel Dorner killed this wrap-around rack buck in Claiborne County on Dec. 26. It scores over 163 inches gross Boone & Crockett.
Daniel Dorner killed this wrap-around rack buck in Claiborne County on Dec. 26. It scores over 163 inches gross Boone & Crockett.

Louisiana hunter gets a 163-inch Mississippi trophy

That Daniel Dorner was reading the book “The God of Second Chances” by Steve Arterburn while deer hunting on the day after Christmas was more than just a little coincidental.

“To me, reading that book in the stand, and it being about God giving you second chances, is the story behind this deer,” said Dorner, 26, a New Orleans attorney who hunts near Port Gibson in Mississippi’s Claiborne County. “After I missed the buck, God gave me a second chance, and it’s like He meant for me to kill that deer.”

Truth be told, it was actually a third chance.

“Yeah, I missed twice,” Dorner said. “But, you know how the rut is, bucks have their minds on one thing and one thing only, and they are oblivious to everything else.”

Dorner didn’t really want to hunt that day, which was rather warm and dreary.

“It was like 58 degrees that morning with a high of about 68 or 70 degrees,” he said. “I didn’t plan to hunt; I just went to camp to help my dad get the place ready for the whole family to come to camp that week. I had to work in New Orleans on the 27th, so I just went up there Christmas night to help on the 26th. Day up, and day back.

“But Dad talked me into hunting that afternoon, so at about 2 o’clock I got my stuff ready to head to the stand. I always hunt off hours, and that’s when I kill my biggest bucks — either between 9 and 10 in the morning or between 2 and 4 in the afternoon. Not the typical times that people hunt, but I don’t think this buck had patterned us as much as it was he was looking for hot does.”

Dorner said he was settled in the stand by 2:30 and immediately made a few calls.

“I went through a couple of calling sequences and then started reading the book,” he said. “A little later, I heard something running through the bottom and I looked up and saw this deer. I recognized it immediately. He was about 80 yards away and I just tossed the book on the ground.”

Dorner was 20 feet up in a lock-on ladder stand, which he put up in the area in November, around Thanksgiving, after getting pictures of this odd buck on a trail camera.

“He’s got that unique identifying characteristic of main beams that almost touch tips,” he said. “We had a picture of him last year and he was about the same size then. This year, I got a picture of him on a trail in early November at 6:30 p.m. before the time changed. Then we got more pics of him on feeders further away. I figured out that this area was his bedding area and it was very thick. Then I found a rub, one of the biggest I’ve ever seen, and I knew it had to be him because of the way it was gouged into the tree with those close tips.

“I put a camera on that rub and later went in and hung the stand. I never went back, because you don’t usually see a buck like this in the open during daylight except during the rut. I didn’t want to go back in there before the rut and spook him.”

On Dec. 26, no other deer had come through the area.

“He was the only one I saw and he came through running with his nose to the ground,” Dorner said. “He wasn’t running a doe but he sure was looking (for a hot one). When I first saw him he was about 80 yards and was coming from my right. I dropped the book because I couldn’t get it in the bag. When he went behind some trees, I was able to get up and get situated.

“I looked for shooting lanes and picked a spot that I could shoot, but didn’t know which way he was going to go. I was shooting free-handed, and when I got the shot, I missed. I don’t know if I hit a limb or what or if I hit him. He ran a little bit and stopped again. I shot a second shot.

“When I’m shooting a big buck, I try to put as much lead in him as I can and I don’t worry about messing up meat. When he stopped a third time, he was broadside and I had a very small window to shoot through. He dropped where he stood. I clipped the spine and the bullet went down through the body. It was a steep angle down in that bottom and the third shot was only at 40 yards. The first shot was at 80 yards and the second at 60. By the third shot, he was 40 yards. He had turned and come toward me.”

The main-frame 8-point with two stickers off the back measures 163 7/8 inches gross Boone & Crockett. The main beams are incredible.

“They both measure 27 inches and loop around and even though I didn’t measure the gap, I’d say it was less than an inch between the tips,” Dorner said. “I’ve seen a few like that, but never that close. We’ve had pictures of other deer with that characteristic so maybe we have it in our gene pool.”

Another feature of this old, mature trophy buck was the mass.

“It had 6-inch bases and carried it all the way out, with only the final measurement below 5 inches at 4½,” Dorner said. “We aged him at 6½ but he only weighed 175. One trait of our deer there is that the big antlers have small bodies. The heavier, 200-pound–plus bucks never have big racks.”

Dorner shoots a .270 but is considering moving up to a heavier caliber.

“I like to hunt in thick, dense cover,” he said. “I missed a big buck last year when I hit a limb, and then this happened. I don’t know for sure if I hit a limb but I don’t think I want to be in that position again.”

Bobby Cleveland
About Bobby Cleveland 1181 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.