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Needle in a Haystack

Photo by Mark L. Nash

In this family, it’s an honor for a hunter to say he takes after his mother.

By Mark L. Nash
Photos by Mark L. Nash

When James Essex of Cody, Wyo., traveled to his parents’ home in Missouri to deer hunt in the fall of 2003, he hoped to harvest a nice trophy. He wasn’t thinking about a record-book buck – any mature whitetail would do.

The area produced the non-typical (B&C) record buck for Cedar County some 30 years before. James knew the deer well; his mother Norma had taken it when he was just a boy. Many nice bucks had been taken since then, but nothing that compared to Norma’s. James was being realistic. Finding a trophy buck like the one his mother shot was like finding a needle in a haystack.

Photo by Mark L. NashThe season was winding down when James woke up that cold November morning. He set out to still-hunt a long ridge adjacent to his parents’ house, and he soon spotted a buck with good-looking antlers. He wasn’t sure how many points it had, but the antlers looked to be plenty big.

James drew a bead on the buck with his .25-06 and fired. At the shot, the deer ran nonchalantly down a hill away from him. Not knowing if he had hit it, the hunter sneaked down the oak ridge to catch up with it. James found the buck somewhat disoriented at the bottom of the hill. With one careful shot, the buck was down for good.

Upon closer inspection, James could barely believe his eyes. Lying before him was a long-tined 21-pointer. What is more remarkable is that James shot the buck within a mile of where his mother had shot her buck 30 years earlier. James had found the needle in a haystack.

James’ buck scored 167 2/8 B&C non-typical. It broke the old record held by his mother’s deer by 2 1/8 inches, becoming the new No. 1 non-typical buck for Cedar County.

This article was published in the December 2005 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.

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