The flat Mississippi Delta yields more than bumper crops of cotton, corn and soybeans. The fertile region is also known for its beefy, top-heavy whitetails.
Few places in the Deep South produce deer that can rival those found in the block of counties within an hour’s drive of the Mississippi River. Heath Hodges knows this.
The 38-year-old building contractor in Itta Bena, Mississippi, hunts 1,000 acres of family farmland in Leflore County. He also has hunting privileges for an adjacent 80 acres.
Last season, Heath collected a brace of wallhangers that could stop traffic. One of the deer actually did, I think.
He scored first while bowhunting the week before Halloween. That buck, which had been following the Yazoo River with an even bigger buddy, tallies 178 inches as a Semi-irregular.
Before they shed their velvet, the two mature whitetails were photographed together on numerous tracts in the area. Heath wasn’t the only hunter to put the animals at the top of his Most Wanted list.
“I hunted the 178-incher for five straight days,” he told Gita Smith, who’s writing his story for Rack magazine. “I pulled the camera card on Oct. 24, and when I saw the pictures, I went home, showered, changed clothes and was in my lock-on stand by 2:45.”
Heath’s next buck was much bigger.
He and a buddy saw the deer three times in November, but it never offered them a shot. When Heath saw it again on Dec. 2, he made a mental note of the path the deer chose and moved his stand.
Heath was aloft with his .35 Whelen, rattling antlers and grunt call by 2:30 the following day. The first deer he saw were a couple of does that bedded 25 yards from him. They left in a hurry half an hour later, but they returned.
The does were antsy, and he discovered the reason when he heard a buck grunting off to his right. Soon after answering the deer, he saw it about 65 yards away, coming quickly down the nearby trail.
Heath literally broke the whitetail’s heart when it stopped less than 20 feet from his tree. The 21-pointer scores 232 3/8 inches by the BTR’s yardstick.
— Read Recent Blog! South’s Finest Typical: Of the top 100 Typicals listed in Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records, only five came out of the Deep South. The majority are Midwestern or Canadian bucks.