Fireman overcomes earlier miss to drop Kemper County trophy
On Oct. 3, when Bill Chunn found his 174 3/8-inch, Kemper County buck on the ground, he stood over the old 12-pointer, not so much thinking about this once-in-a-lifetime trophy as feeling a huge burden lifted from his soul.
“I was proud to kill the deer, but more than anything else, there was a feeling of redemption,” said Chunn, 41, a firefighter from Philadelphia. “I hadn’t slept much Friday or Saturday, and it bothered me all day on Saturday and even Sunday at Church.”
Chunn was living in a funk because on Friday, the opening day of archery deer season in Mississippi, he had whiffed at this very same buck, missing a 10-yard shot as the buck stood right beneath his tree stand.
“Even Sunday afternoon, in that same stand, when I’d look down at the ground below my feet, I kept thinking, ‘Man, he was just right there, and I blew it,’” Chunn said. “I could have thrown an arrow at him; he was that close.”
The extreme vertical angle had caused him to misjudge the shot.
“He surprised me with where he came out behind me and got under me, and I guess I just overthought how I needed to aim at that angle — shot right under him,” Chunn said.
Friday night, Chunn tossed, turned and even got out of bed to sit on the steps outside his home. Saturday, he hunted on another piece of property, but his mind was elsewhere.
“I got up on Sunday and hunted early, before church, and while I was in church, I finally decided to go back to the same stand,” he said.
There was a demon inside that had to be exorcized.
A regular visitor
So, Sunday afternoon, Chunn and his hunting partner, another fireman returned to the Kemper County property, about 100 acres where they had obtained hunting rights just this year.
“I went in there and decided I’d put up a camera and a feeder and see what was in this area,” he said. “I started getting pictures of this big-rack buck. I went back and pulled the feeder out and thought it might bring the buck up to the front of the property. We went into this one field we knew deer were going and found there was nowhere, no trees to hang a stand. So, we went to the corner of the field and cleared out this one area, about 100 feet by 80 feet, right next to the trees. I put out some Genco feed in a trough and there was an acorn tree right behind where I put the stand.”
In the weeks before the season, deer, including the trophy buck, found the area and started visiting — regularly.
“We had cam pics of him coming in about the same direction every day,” Chunn said. “That’s where I was Friday on opening day, but I guess he had another plan that day, because he walked right out from behind me and just appeared right under me. I was surprised. My top pin is set at 25 yards, and he was closer than that. I thought I needed to aim low and I did, and I shot right under him.”
Startled, the buck jumped and ran but stopped quickly, giving the hunter a second shot.
“I was too shook up,” Chunn said. “I didn’t even try.”
Fast forward to Sunday afternoon, almost exactly 48 hours later.
“I finally decided to go back to that stand and try to end my suffering,” he said. “This time, about an hour before sunset, I saw a 7-point and two does walking into the pocket right on the trail the bigger buck had always used. They were walking right toward me, and I couldn’t move. They were about 50 or 60 yards out, and they spotted me. They turned and backed up the trail a few yards and then turned back to look at me.
“The wind was right, and I knew they couldn’t smell me, but they were sure putting their noses up trying. They stomped and kept bobbing their heads trying to make me move, but I didn’t. I was frozen.”
That’s when the big buck first appeared.
“Suddenly, he showed up and was walking down the same trail right toward me, but that meant he would have to pass the other deer, and I thought I was in trouble,” Chunn said. “It was obvious those deer knew something wasn’t on the up and up, and I didn’t think he’d pass them.
“But, that’s exactly what he did. He just went right around them and came into the opening about 25 yards away and started eating. I couldn’t shoot because the other deer were looking at me, but after the big deer had started feeding around and a few minutes passed, they decided to come on in.”
Once they entered the field, they could no longer see him through branches low on the tree. Chunn could safely pull the string on his old bow, which he’d bought online before the season, and line up the 26-yard broadside shot.
He let it fly.
Tracking the buck down
Chunn’s shot, again a little low and maybe a little too far forward, left the hunter feeling even more perplexed.
“I wasn’t confident about the shot,” he said. “As forward as it was, I was afraid I’d hit the bone in the upper leg, because as he ran off, I could see about 14 inches of arrow sticking out. I waited a long, very long, 15 or 20 minutes, before getting down. I found half the arrow, the part I’d seen, on the trail about 25 yards down the trail. I walked back to the truck and called my partner to bring lights.
“An hour later, after sunset, we started looking. I was really worried until about 25 yards further down the trail, there was blood on both sides, a lot of blood. We found him 100 yards from the field. He hadn’t gone far.”
A wave of redemption hit the hunter.
“I could breathe again,” Chunn said.
A true trophy
Scored by Atkins Taxidermy in Union for a Big Buck Bounty contest, the buck’s rack was in full velvet, measuring 17 inches wide inside. It’s a tall, symmetrical 5×5 with two stickers. The main beams were 24 7/8 inches and 23 4/8 inches. The G2s were its best features at 13 6/8 and 13 2/8 inches.
“It’s 50 inches bigger than any thing I’d ever killed,” Chunn said. “I’ve always hunted but am just getting into archery. I borrowed a bow from my brother five years ago and went to Missouri and killed a decent 11-point. I remember I had to buy camo and borrow a broadhead. All I’d ever done was gun hunt from a shooting house.
“This year, I bought an old BowTech bow online for $120, and it only has about a 50-pound pull. To be honest, I almost left it hanging in the tree where I shot, but when I went back to pull the camera to move it to another area, I did grab the bow.”
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