DeSoto County buck wasn’t one he and friend were after
David Holliman was quick to give one of his best friends most of the credit for the monster, 20-point, 187 2/8-inch buck he killed on Dec. 6 on Nelson Bridgeforth’s property in Desoto County.
But then — quickly and jokingly — he took it all back.
“I can’t take all the credit for this awesome deer,” said Holliman, 34, a truck driver from Byhalia. “Nelson lets me hunt with him on one of his places, so I never would’ve had the opportunity if it wasn’t for him. We have been hunting a different deer all season, one he calls Henry that is a big massive 8-point that will probably make 135 or 140 inches.”
Instead of an 8, Holliman took a 20.
“I left out the part about Nelson knowing this buck was there, but he hadn’t seen him on camera since October,” he said. “He was holding out on me. LOL.”
An impressive buck
The buck is a main-frame 10-point — although one G4 is broken at its base — with a lot of extra stickers. Each base had multiple stickers. There are two split tines on the right main beam and a sticker off a tine on the left beam, and, well, man, there’s stickers everywhere, almost too hard to explain.
But that’s not all.
Although the rack was just 17 inches wide, the buck carried an awful lot of mass. The bases were 6 and 5 1/2 inches, and the beams carried that mass a long way, bordering on palmation on the right with a 5-inch measurement near the end.
So impressive a set of antlers that Holliman, whose previous best was a 163-inch, 11-point taken on Upper Sardis WMA in 2011, summed it up this way: “One of the best days of my life — one that hunters live a lifetime hoping to have.”
It didn’t hurt that Holliman shared it with his girlfriend, Kari Harpole, and his explanation of why she was there is a good place to start the story of the hunt.
“Nelson and I have been hunting the 8-point hard for weeks, and I haven’t been home much lately, so she wanted to go,” Holliman said. “Kari wanted to sit with me, so I brought her along since we have a two-man stand on the property.”
They arrived in the dark last Sunday morning, and right away it seemed Harpole would be a lucky charm.
“Right at the break of daylight, we heard leaves rustling out in front of us,” Holliman said. “I started looking through my binoculars, and I saw the biggest raccoon I’ve ever seen going through the woods.”
So much for luck: a trophy raccoon.
“I kept looking through the binoculars, scanning the woods, and I noticed a big body with its head up like a buck hooking bushes,” Holliman said. “I couldn’t make out horns, so I looked away for a second but when I came back to it, I couldn’t find him anymore. He had disappeared.”
Luck? Hang on, it gets better, lots better, a couple of hours later.
Trophy of a lifetime
Holliman said he and Harpole spent a good bit of time catching up.
“The morning went on, and we were whispering back and forth talking about deer, and about Christmas plans and whatever else came up,” he said. “Then, I heard a grunt. Then, I heard another one, and I looked at her and asked her if she had heard it. She said she did, just as he grunted again.
“A doe walked out at about 100 yards, and he was right on her heels. I was in shock because I had never seen this deer, and he was clearly a shooter. I got on him as quick as I could, and then he stopped, about 75 or 80 yards away but he was behind some limbs.”
Holliman stayed on the buck, patiently waiting for a shot. It came at 8:15.
“I stayed on him, and he took two steps, and boom,” he said, describing the moment of the 75-yard shot. “He bolted off and ran down into a bottom. I felt good about the shot but started getting scared that I had missed. He didn’t look or act like he was hit.
“I kept watching him run through the bottom, and I could barely seem him. Then I saw a white flicker. I told Keri, ‘I think he fell. He’s down.’ I was shaking just like it was my first deer because I knew he was a giant.”
Excitement settled in. Holliman climbed down and helped Harpole out of the stand. He told her to stay by the stand while he started toward the deer.
“I eased towards him, looking with my binoculars until I saw him piled up across the bottom,” Holliman said. “I was super relieved and even more excited.
“I ran through the woods to him, and he grew and grew the closer I got. Man I was high-fiving the air and fist-pumping, and I’m sure I was hollering. I had a monster. I had a giant.”
He got to the buck and there was a somber moment when he thought about who he most wanted to share this exciting time with but couldn’t.
“I had recently lost my grandfather, Leon Holliman, and he would’ve been my first call, because he would have been just as excited as I was,” Holliman said. “I even shed a tear thinking about it. Grandpa was the man who got me into hunting and fishing. He is the reason I love the outdoors so much.”
Instead, Holliman called his gracious friend and No. 1 hunting and fishing partner, who was hunting a few hundred yards away.
“I called Nelson, and he was quickly out of his stand and on the way, because he was just as excited as I was,” he said. “Then I called my cousin, who was fishing, and he left the lake to come see it.”
The party was underway and wouldn’t quickly end.
Two days later, Holliman said, “I’m still grinning ear to ear.”
JOIN THE CLUB, get unlimited access for $2.99/month
Become the most informed Sportsman you know, with a membership to the Mississippi Sportsman Magazine and MS-Sportsman.com.