Rack Magazine

Making the Neighbors Cry

Making the Neighbors Cry

By Duncan Dobie

This Mississippi buck ran out of lives when it crossed paths with a lady wearing an ugly hat.

Susie Taylor set her sights on an incredible 6-pointer during Mississippi’s 2015 season, but things didn’t turn out the way she’d hoped.

Susie had hunted the unusual buck for several years. And she was ready to cross the 3x3 off her wish list.

“That deer was my mission,” she said. “I’d put in many hard hours trying to force a showdown with it. Although we had plenty of trail camera photos, I saw the buck only once.”

That sighting occurred during the 2013-2014 season, when she passed up an opportunity to shoot the deer.

“It was a record-class 6-pointer,” Susie said. “It had heavy, wide beams and was very symmetrical. We had pictures of it and another buck, a big 8-pointer that probably scored around 140 inches.

“Whenever the 6-pointer appeared on camera, the big 8 always seemed to be a minute or so behind it.

“I had been hunting in the hardwoods near a creek bottom back in 2013 when the impressive 6-pointer came up out of that bottom about 4:00 one afternoon and offered me a shot. Because it was only a 6, though, and because I was really hoping to shoot the big 8 instead, I hesitated,” she said.

Time to consult Ken.

“I texted my husband and told him about my dilemma, and he suggested, ‘Why don’t you give the 6 another year?’ At the time, we both thought that if the unusual 3x3 grew any additional points the following year, it would really be something. So I didn’t shoot.

“And wouldn’t you know it, the 8-pointer never showed that day,” she added.

“The following year, we started getting more trail cam photos of the deer I had passed up. Even though it had not grown any additional points, its rack was much larger. That’s when we started calling him Just Six.

“I decided Just Six would be the buck to go after in 2014. So I devoted the entire season to him without ever getting a glimpse,” she said.

When the 2015 season opened, Susie had gone buckless for three years, highly unusual for a lady who normally fills her tags with nice bucks every year.

She and her family have a longtime hunting lease in Jefferson County, Mississippi, and deer hunting with Ken and other family members has been a 30-plus-year endeavor. Despite her long dry spell, Susie continued hunting the hardwoods for most of the 2015 season without seeing Just Six.

She changed tactics in December.

At a bone-chilling 30 degrees, the morning of Dec. 5 promised to be cold and blustery.

‘“Turn on the coffee pot,’ I told Ken. ‘I’m going to hunt this morning. But today, instead of going to my regular stand in the hardwoods, I think I’ll hunt easy,’” Susie resumed her story.

After weeks of facing the elements and hunting from her treestand, Susie’s idea of easy was hunting out of a box blind on a ridgetop where some good buck sign could always be found.

“The box stand I was hunting that day was special because it had been built and used by my nephew, Greg,” Susie said. “He had built the stand and painted his name inside it many years earlier.

“Sadly, Greg died in an auto accident in 1997 at the age of 20. Since then, we’ve always maintained the stand as a tribute to him,” she added.

The box stand overlooks a long food plot. The narrow opening in the woods is about 20 yards wide and 350 long.

Since Ken and Susie were the only hunters in camp that morning, Ken planned to hunt about a mile from Susie. As they headed out, he said, “If I hear you shoot, I’ll meet you back at the truck to see if you need any help.”

Shortly after 7:00, a nice 8-pointer crossed the lane from right to left about 200 yards from Susie’s box stand.

“It crossed the opening in about three bounds, and I never had time for a shot,” she said. “Minutes later, I heard bucks fighting in the woods in the direction where the buck had gone. There was quite a racket, and the clanging went on for about 10 minutes. It was awesome.”

A few minutes after that, three bucks – a spike, a forkhorn and a 6-pointer – crossed the lane in single file about 50 yards from Susie’s blind, going from left to right.

“As the 6-pointer stopped and looked down the lane, I thought, It doesn’t get any better than this. I had seen four bucks in 30 minutes, and I was thrilled,” she said.

For Susie, it had already been a memorable day in the woods, but all of that early excitement proved to be a preview of things to come a half-hour later.

“I saw movement inside the woods at maybe 100 yards,” Susie said. “I picked up my rifle, and a big buck stepped into the lane. I couldn’t tell how many points it had, but I knew immediately by its size that it was a shooter.

“On its second step, I slipped off the safety. On its third, when it reached the middle of the lane, I grunted,” she said. “It paused for a second and looked my way.”

That was all Susie needed to settle her .270’s crosshairs and squeeze the trigger. After the boom, the big buck trotted across the opening as if nothing had happened.

“Even though it felt like a good shot, I thought I had missed,” Susie admitted.

She got down and walked to where the deer had been standing, and she found only large hoof prints. She marked the spot with tissue and continued on across the opening.

“Just inside the woods, I found a spot of blood about the size of a silver dollar,” Susie said. “I continued on and began to find small drops every few feet. Then, all of a sudden, there was a big blob of brown on the ground ahead!

“I thought, Oh my goodness! There it is! It’s a monster!

“I couldn’t believe how big its body and antlers were. I tried to count the points, but I was so excited I couldn’t seem to concentrate. Then I remembered Ken. I had forgotten that we were supposed to meet back at the truck if either of us shot, and I knew he was probably worried and wondering where I was.

“I called him and said, ‘I just shot a real monster!’ I could tell by his tone that he thought I had probably shot an average buck.

“No, it’s a trophy buck with numerous points,” I kept saying, trying to explain. “You’ve got to see it!”

Ken was soon standing beside his wife and gawking at one of the largest Mississippi bucks he had ever seen. Susie had not been exaggerating.

After wrestling the big-bodied deer out of the woods, the couple realized her buck was more than an exceptional trophy. The seasoned warrior had a total of 18 points (including several that had broken tips) and was believed to have been 51/2 years old.

“No one in our camp even knew this deer existed,” Susie said. “But after word got out, we soon learned that several other camps around us knew all about it. Two of the camps had trail photos of the buck, and several of their hunters had missed it.

“They had dubbed the deer Cry Baby because after missing shots at the seemingly charmed buck, a few of those hunters said they felt like sitting down and crying,” she added.

If those hunters had been upset beforehand, think how they must have felt after they found out about Susie’s good fortune.

The Lucky Hat

Was Cry Baby charmed, or was Susie simply lucky? The latter seems the most plausible, because Susie was wearing her lucky hat.

For more than 20 years, she has worn an old army camo hat that once belonged to Ken. Everyone in camp made fun of it until she started killing big bucks every season while wearing it.

According to Susie, the hat is “ugly, ugly, ugly,” but it has proven to be a good luck charm time and again.

Sometimes it takes more than a well-placed bullet to bring down a true monster whitetail.

Editor’s Note: Georgia author Duncan Dobie’s 11th book, “Arthur Woody and the Legend of the Barefoot Ranger,” is available by calling (770) 973-8049.

This article was published in the October 2017 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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