By Brian Hill
-- It was my second year of hunting with a new club, and all the members and I were after a buck they had named Big Boy. Some of the guys told me they had been hunting him three years before I joined, so it was a smart, old buck. He teased us by showing up on trail cameras from time to time, and we all dreamed of being the hunter to put a tag on him.
I put out a trail camera in the first part of November on a well traveled trail. The very first night, the camera took a picture of Big Boy. I knew right then I was going to harvest this deer. I bought a two-man ladder stand and placed it on a big oak. I knew that Big Boy was crossing this area at about 5 p.m. every other day. We put the stand up on Sunday, Nov. 23. I had the next week off and planned to hunt out of the stand every day.
The next morning it was raining cats and dogs, so I decided not to go. After the rain stopped, I got in the stand at 2 p.m. I didn’t see anything at first. Then, around 4:30, I saw a small doe. Next I heard something walking in the creek behind my stand. Whatever it was got louder and closer.
I couldn’t see behind me very well because of the thick brush, but after what seemed like an eternity, I finally saw Big Boy. He was walking in the very bottom of the creek, well hidden by the 12-foot banks, probably a reason he has lived so long.
I knew there was a trail that came up out of the creek not far ahead, so I decided to give the buck a chance to come up that trail before I shot. If he stayed in the creek, I would still be able to get a bullet into him, even if I didn’t like the angle as much. It’s funny, but I also thought about how difficult it would be to try to haul a massive 200-plus pound buck up out of that creek bottom. Lucky for me, Big Boy came right up the trail out of the ditch.
When Big Boy got on the top of the creek, he stood there. I was frozen in my stand, not even breathing and as my heart tried to jump out of my chest. Finally, the buck started walking down the trail, turning his head and giving me a chance to get my gun up and get him in my sights.
As careful as I was clicking the safety off, Big Boy heard it and looked right at me. I knew what was about to happen and that I had just seconds, if that, to make the shot. I pulled the trigger, and the buck took off through the woods. I heard him fall and knew I had made a good shot, but I waited about 10 minutes before getting down to follow the blood trail.
It was getting dark by the time I packed up all my gear and had my feet on the ground, and then I couldn’t find any blood. I walked back to my truck and got a bigger flashlight but still found nothing.
I knew I heard the deer fall, so I began to zigzag through the woods. That’s when I spotted him on the ground. It wasn’t until that moment that I was able to fully enjoy the honor and thrill of harvesting such a mature buck.
Even without the challenge of the creek bottom, it took me a while to get him loaded onto my ATV. I’m not as young as I use to be, I guess.
Back at the truck, I called my father-in-law, who happens to be a taxidermist, and told him the news. He’s also a member of the camp. It wasn’t too long after that I was getting calls from everyone who had been hunting the deer over the years.
We are not professionals, but we measured the 14-point rack at 155 3/8 inches. After the allotted drying period, I am going to have him officially scored and entered into the Mississippi Magnolia Records Program.
-- Brian Hill / Yalobusha County, Miss.