Top 5 stories of 2021

Deer dominate most-read stories on site

Mississippi’s outdoor scene was certainly not lacking in newsworthy stories throughout 2021. It seemed like a month never passed without something of great interest to hunters and fishermen taking place — some good, some not so good, some just interesting.

We looked at and we came up with the 5 most-read stories of 2021. Hope you enjoy looking back at them.

5. Madison hunter cashes in on rare bird with red-smoke coloration

Justin Hutton of Madison readily admits that he didn’t know what he had the morning of March 19 at about 7 o’clock until he raced over to the gobbler he had just shot, flopping on the ground.

“I looked at him and I thought, ‘What in the world have I just killed?’” Hutton said. “I didn’t realize how special that bird was until then. I jumped on him and was trying to keep him from flopping around, to keep all his feathers intact.”

What Hutton had was perhaps the rarest of the rare: a turkey with plumage that combines two very uncommon color patterns: red- and smoke-phase.

4. Mississippi pastor drops huge Oktibbeha County buck

Michael Baham, a 43-year-old Baptist pastor from Maben, had climbed down from his ladder stand at 5:12 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23, to take care of a doe he’d shot 45 minutes earlier.

He took a few steps and saw a raccoon in the a shooting lane, headed in his direction.

“I thought at first it was a coyote, but it was a big coon,” Baham said. “Then, about 40 yards past him in the lane, I saw a deer bobbing its head. I said to myself, ‘That’s a deer, a buck, a monster buck.’ I could tell he was a lot better than an 8-pointer.”

Baham had his Ruger M-77 .30-06 rifle on his shoulder, in a sling, and little by little, as the buck raised and lowered its head over the next minute-and-a-half, he was able to get the rifle to his shoulder and deliver a killing shot at 85 yards.

The huge 11-point buck — a 5×5 main-frame with a single sticker point on the left antler — wound up measuring 163 inches, with an almost 18-inch inside spread, several tines longer than 10 inches and bases that approached 6 inches in circumference.

3. Lyons kills the King of the Forest

A lot of deer hunters in an area of Lowndes County were hunting a legendary buck, so big that one group nicknamed it “King of the Forest.” Most of the clubs around the family land that Thomas Lyons hunts had pictures of the buck and were hot on its trail.

Seems the only ones unaware was Lyon’s family.

“We didn’t know anything about it really; we had a single picture of a big buck, but we’d never seen it and weren’t hunting it at all,” said Lyons, 37, a former high school football coach who is a real estate agent in Biloxi.

Lyons first saw the buck on a warm Dec. 11 afternoon hunt, the last day of the deer’s life.

“My wife, Claire, and I had driven up to Starkville for a Mississippi State football game the next day, and she was working remotely on the internet,” Lyons said. “I was sitting around bored. It was like 70 degrees outside, but I told her I was going to drive over to Columbus and go sit it in a stand to kill some time.”

He killed a lot more than that. He dropped the royal buck, its head crowned by a 20-point, 187-inch rack, leaving him with one of the oddest hunting photos you’ll ever see and best stories you’ll ever hear.

2. Newton County gives up trophy buck to Hollingsworth

Cody Hollingsworth of Lawrence spotted a main frame 10-point on his game cameras last year at his deer club in Newton County. They had the buck on game cameras in September and October of 2020 before the buck vanished. Nobody knew exactly what happened to him or if he’d been killed. If he had died nobody owned up to the deed.

“He showed back up in September and I had him on camera through October,” Hollingsworth said. “I decided to take the camera out so that I could stay out of the area and not alert the buck to my presence during this season.”

Hollinsworth was going to go to another stand last Monday, Dec. 13, and planned to film another buck if he could, but plans changed and he went to the area where the big buck was, primarily due to the wind direction. As it turned out the buck came out at 4:45 and Hollinsworth promptly inserted a surgical precision strike with his Weatherby .270 short-magnum.

1. Mississippi’s deer seasons for 2021-22

Steve Brown of Starkville has been bowhunting since he was 11 years old, and he’s never been more excited about the Mississippi’s bow season for deer as he is this year. He is an avid bowhunter who hunts across the country, but the last few years, the October bow season in his home state has been especially productive.

“I’m getting pictures of good bucks on my mineral sites, and it’s really fun watching them grow their antlers through the summer and fall,” Brown said. “We only shoot mature deer, so we’ve got quite an inventory of older bucks built up, and I’m confident that I’ll have opportunities to harvest some mature, trophy bucks this fall if the conditions continue as they are.”

Mississippi’s 2021-2022 deer seasons have been confirmed by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. Click here to read them.

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