I was hunting family land about three-quarters of a mile from the Big Black River in Hinds County on Dec. 30, and I decided that morning to hunt a stand that covered a bottom with a spring-fed ditch at the end of the food plot. I was going to get down around 9 o’clock, because I had to work that day, but I figured with the rut on, I might see something early and end up a little late for work. The day had other plans for me, though.
At 7:49, one of my co-workers texted me about a COVID case on site; he needed me to text some contractors to tell them to stay out of that area. As I was texting, I looked up and saw a big deer crossing a shooting lane at about 190 yards. I couldn’t tell anything about him other than he was worth getting my rifle, not my binoculars, but by the time I got the gun up, the buck was gone.
I sent a text to my cousin, and he gave me the best advice I could have gotten: he reminded me about the layout of the property. That ditch at the back of that lane is fed from a spring further back in our property, and we have a stand overlooking the bottom where the spring is. He told me that if the deer was following the ditch, he had about 700 yards to go through some thick underbrush, but I only had about 200 yards to go to get in that other stand, and I could probably get there ahead of the buck, so I climbed down and headed that way.
The right call
Two minutes after I got into the other stand, a doe crossed the bottom, and I could hear something crashing through the woods behind her. As soon as he stepped out, I bleated at him to get him to stop and put the crosshairs on him. All I remember before the shot is seeing the back side of his rack as he looked away from me and thinking, “Dang, his head looks like a basketball hoop.’’ Right as he started to take a step, I burned powder. I shot right at 8:13.
I wasn’t sure about my shot, so I went back to the camp to wait on my cousin to finish hunting and bring his blood-trailing dog, Gunner. Turns out I didn’t need to wait. We got down to where he was, and there was blood and hair all over the water. The deer went about 30 yards and got his rack tangled up in a small tree. The shot was perfect, behind the front shoulder, in and out, double lung, with my Ruger M77 in .270, shooting 130-grain Federal Power Shok bullets.
A giant buck
What a rack the deer carried. It was a main-frame 8-pointer with a ninth point that may not be long enough to be scored. It had a 23 1/2-inch inside spread, 25 5/8-inch main beams, 6-inch bases with mass that carries out to 4 1/2 inches at the last measurement. We green-scored him at the camp at 165 1/8, and I took him to be scored for the US 96 Big Buck bounty for an “official” green score of 164 2/8. The official scorer said the ninth point was just scoreable at 1 inch.
I’m not sure where he will place in the state record books, but for a main-frame 8-pointer, he’s huge. He’s the fifth buck I’ve ever killed, and he’s definitely my biggest. I was shaking after I shot; my cousin said it’s probably a good thing I didn’t have time to look at him, cause buck fever would have made me mess it up.
We didn’t have a single photo of this buck on any of our trail cameras. We usually have a couple of pictures of good bucks every year, and we end up seeing tailgate pictures the neighbors send us of the deer killed on their place. It was real nice to be able to return the favor and let them look at tailgate pictures this year, especially on one as nice as this.
I’ll be taking him to get officially scored after the 60-day drying period. I’ve been told there is a chance he’ll go down as one of the Top 5 8-pointers ever killed in Mississippi, possibly the biggest. But even if he isn’t, he’s the a heck of a trophy. Brent Opdyke of Opdyke Taxidermy in Brookhaven is doing the mount.
– Kiel May
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