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The Freak

Justin Malouf
Justin Malouf hunted this Mississippi deer, "The Freak," 23 days in a row before it finally fell to one well-placed shot.
By Justin Malouf

-- It was just a normal day in November when I decided to call a friend of mine and see if he would like to go hunting. He was just getting in from an 8-day bow hunt in Illinois and needed to go shoot his rifle to make sure it was still sighted-in. We got his gun sighted-in and headed to the woods. It was about 45 degrees outside, the wind was blowing about 15 miles an hour and a light rain was starting to fall. It was perfect weather for us to take a big deer here in Mississippi.

I put my friend in a shooting house next to a food plot not too far from the lock-on stand I was going to use. The hunt ended with my friend catching a glimpse of a few small bucks and does. The following morning I checked my trail camera that was in the area we hunted the prior evening. That's when I first saw "The Freak." What makes the photo really interesting is the fact that the camera took the photo just nine minutes after we left that field.

We immediately had a change of plans. I repositioned my stands in the area and hunted for this deer for 23 days straight. The last five hunting days during this period stretched from sunup to sundown. I spent every available moment in the woods looking for this 200-inch-plus buck. Everyone I talked with said I would run the buck out of the area if I were to cut shooting lanes to up my odds. But, I was low on time and the rut was coming to a close.

Justin Malouf's trail camera caught "The Freak" in the field just nine minutes after the hunter and a friend finished hunting.
This buck was giving me a run for my and it was starting to wear me down, but all my friends and family, especially my wife and father, told me to hang in there. On the opening day of our second rifle season, I finally got a chance to see the buck step out into one of my shooting lanes 200 yards away. It turned broadside and walked into some tall grass where it disappeared. I was certain that I would never see the buck again. I sat there from 8 a.m. until dark and did not see another deer. 

The next day I climbed into another stand in the same area around 11 a.m. and used my grunt and can calls. By 5 p.m., I turned and looked behind me toward another lane I had cut. There he stood 275 yards out and closing. I almost fell out of my treestand as I tried to steady my gun. 

I took aim and eased down on the trigger. The woods were eerily quiet after the gun's report subsided. I called my dad and said I might have missed the buck. I walked to where the buck stood and did not see any sign. I was sick and headed toward the truck. During my walk I was relieved to see evidence of a solid lung shot. The trail led me 200 yards to my trophy.

I grabbed the buck's antlers and counted 24 points. Not a bad way to end a long deer season.

Justin Malouf
Ridgeland, Mississippi

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