It’s certainly not that of a 17-year-old junior at Natchez Cathedral High School who has only been bowhunting three full seasons, but to his credit, the teen had a great game plan, called the right audibles and then executed it with near precision.
“I am very excited about this experience,’ Meriwether said. “It all came together, then it changed, and then I figured it out and was successful. I has so happy because I’ve had a goal of taking a trophy buck over 130 inches, and I did it.”
The buck he was hunting had been captured it on camera many times since July on his family’s property in Adams County. He was hunting about 1,000 yards behind his house.
“I started getting good pictures of him, steady, like every day, in mid- to late July,” Meriwether said. “He was there about every day, and I had him patterned pretty good, but the week before the opening of archery season, he disappeared. For three or four days, I stopped getting photos. I thought, “that’s about right: find a giant deer, learn all about him, and then he disappears right before opening day.’”
A change in strategy
Meriwether was disappointed and was getting very worried, until….
“Then he started showing back up on cameras, but only in a totally different area,” he said. “I think he showed back up either the night before the season opener or the night after it opened. He went nocturnal and switched sides of the property. He had been showing up every day at daylight, but after disappearing, he was only moving at night, and I caught him on a different camera. Before he disappeared, he had his velvet. When he reappeared, it was gone.”
Everything Meriwether knew about the buck was moot, no longer useful information.
“I had to change my pattern completely, but I did figure out where he was going,” he said. “I had a stand on a small food plot in an oak bottom with a cluster of oak trees that were dropping. I had a stand where he was going, but I had to change the setup where he was at.
“The first weekend of the season, I hunted him Saturday, Sunday and Monday but didn’t see him.”
The waiting game
Back to school he went, but the next Saturday, Oct. 10, Meriwether was back in the game.
“That’s the day following the hurricane that came through,” he said. “We didn’t have any photos of the deer feeding for several days as the storm came through, so I figured they’d be coming out early in daylight looking for something to eat.
“I went to the stand that afternoon, and I thought the wind was right for that stand. The wind was blowing about 6 or 7 miles an hour, not too bad, but as I walked in, I noticed it was swirling. I knew I couldn’t hunt that stand. I got a chair and carried it in to sit on the ground.”
This was a risky move, for sure. All the cull bucks and does that he had killed with a bow, he had killed from an elevated ladder stand.
“But I had practiced shooting this way just because I knew it could happen — maybe not on this buck, but eventually,” said Meriwether, who arrived early, checked the wind and had a good idea which side of the small plot with acorns the deer would enter.
“I wasn’t sure which trail he’d use, but I was pretty sure what side he’d go to,” he said. “I put the chair in a hole in some thick kudzu among a few trees. I was pretty well hidden. I sat down and waited.”
The moment of truth
About 30 minutes before the end of legal shooting hours, Meriwether saw a group of bucks approaching on a trail that entered the plot about 25 to 30 yards from his stand.
“They started feeding, and a couple of minutes later, two more small bucks walked into the field,” he said. “About two minutes later, here came the big buck. He had been hanging back, watching the others to make sure it was clear.”
The problem Meriwether faced was having 10 eyes within 30 yards of his hiding place.
“It did make it difficult, but eventually, everything got right,” Meriwether said. “He walked closer to me than the other bucks, and it took, I guess, about 5 minutes from when he walked out until he turned broadside and for me to be sure the other bucks were not looking. Honestly, I don’t think any of them every knew I was there until I took the shot.”
Using a single pin set at 25 yards, the distance he had figured the shot would be, Meriwether took aim behind the shoulder and hit the release.
“I hit him pretty good, but what I couldn’t really tell was that he was slightly quartered toward me,” he said. “I hit right where I aimed and clipped a lung, but the arrow exited further back through the stomach.
“I got decent blood in the field, and then it got better and better the further I went for about 100 yards,” Meriwether said. “That he had gone that far worried me, so I decided to go a little further and then back out.”
Locating the big buck
“We walked another 100 yards or so and still had decent blood, and I was really getting worried then about the shot,” the hunter said. “Then I came up out of a ditch bottom and walked up on a flat and jumped him. I saw the guts hanging out as he ran away. Dad, Liam and I decided to back out, and Dad said he had a friend who had a friend with good trailing dogs. He called him, and at about 10:30, the man came with a dog, and he walked right to the buck. That was one of the neatest parts of the whole deal, too, seeing how good that dog worked.”
The buck fell about 300 yards from where it was originally hit.
The buck was a main-frame 8-point with a huge extra tine that stuck out forward and upward from the right base.
“We didn’t know if it was a split brow tine or another main beam,” Meriwether said. “Really, I don’t care. It’s just a beautiful buck with that odd point and two stickers on his right G2 and another sticker on the left G2. It made him a 12-point.
“The taxidermist, Tucker Crisp, that scored him said it had unusually short main beams, only 20 inches on both sides. Tucker said most bucks in that area that size would be 23, 24 or 25 inches. That cost me some scoring, but believe me, I don’t really care about that. My goal was to kill a big trophy buck and I did it.”
He sure did.