Bryan Daugherty of Hernando was hunting family land in Sunflower County the afternoon of Dec. 2 when he was getting ready to take a doe for meat.
“At 4:50 I went to shoot a doe, but she trotted off before I could shoot and I got mad at myself for not taking the shot sooner,” Daugherty said. “I turned around, looked the other way, and saw a big buck a long ways off, but he turned and disappeared into the woods before I could tell how big he was. He reappeared about 100 yards from me at about 5:00 p.m. and that time I could see he was a really good buck.”
Daugherty was glad that he didn’t shoot the doe first or he’d never have seen the buck. He had planned to go to another stand but his plans didn’t work out.
“It was hot, and I was going to another stand, which was farther away, and I forgot my binoculars,” he said. “So I went back to get them and decided to hunt this stand instead. I’d already told my wife that if I hadn’t seen anything to shoot I’d shoot a doe at about 5:00 for meat, because we don’t shoot many bucks.”
The buck walked across the food plot, and he stopped just long enough for Daugherty to center the crosshairs on him and squeeze the trigger of his Winchester 7 MM Magnum Model 70 rifle.
“I knocked him down and he got up and circled and made it 15 yards out of the food plot,” Daugherty said. “The stand where I shot him was dad’s favorite hunting spot.”
Biggest deer yet on property
The typical 9-point buck had 15 scorable points with a 20 ½-inch spread and scored an astonishing 189 ¾ B&C. The mature Delta buck weighed 255 pounds.
“After I shot the buck, I called my brother and told him that I got Brutus,” Daugherty said. “‘Are you serious?’ he asked. ‘Yes, I got him!’ I said. He drove straight from Morgan City and came to help me.”
The excitement was hard to believe as Daugherty had harvested the best deer they’d ever killed on the property.
Daugherty was hunting a food plot about two acres in size in between two blocks of woods.
“Dad (Jerry Daugherty) bought the land after previous owners had set it up in the Wetlands Restoration Program (WRP) about 30 years ago and we were letting the deer get some age on them and harvesting them when they matured,” Daugherty said. “Dad actually liked to video the deer with his phone and send to the whole family. He really got a kick out of filming them instead of shooting them. Our family still uses that approach to be involved with both the wildlife and each other throughout the season.
“If it was not something really big then we let them walk and harvested does for meat instead. Dad passed away in 2014 so my brother has mostly been managing the place for deer, with some help from me, and really making it better for wildlife with sound habitat practices.”
Managing the habitat
Jerry Daugherty actually put five different kinds of oaks in his WRP section, which provided plenty of fall and winter food for the bucks.
“It was a long journey to get to this point,” Daugherty said. “The land around here hasn’t been known for producing trophy bucks, but we’ve worked hard at managing the habitat and deer. I haven’t shot a buck in a couple decades, as I chose to harvest does for meat to let the deer mature. For me, it’s been about spending time on the land with my family. That has always been the priority.”
Daugherty said that they have a biologist from Mississippi State come out every year and give them recommendations and they take as many does as they need for meat. But there’s so much lush habitat with plenty of food and cover that it’s not really imperative to harvest a certain number each year.
“My brother, Barrett, actually spotted the buck for the first time this year back in September, and had been hunting him with a bow, even seeing him on one hunt,” Daugherty said. “I never saw him in person until the day I killed him.”
There’s no doubt that you must have the habitat as well as deer with the genetics to grow big bucks. But thanks to Jerry Daugherty’s love for the land and hunting, he left the property in good hands for his wife, daughter and his sons, Bryan and Barrett, who have taken it to the next level. The family is now reaping the benefits. After spending a lifetime chasing deer around the state they are now able to hunt trophy deer and get all the meat they need right at home. It just doesn’t get much better than that!
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