By Mark Kenyon
Today we’re reminiscing on another great hunting season past, as Chad Bell shares the story of a great 2012 hunt. We’re heading to Mississippi where Chad puts a mature Southern buck on the ground! – MK
“The weekend of January 5th & 6th found me headed back up to my friends’ place in Mississippi, but this time with my dad. My 8 year old nephew asked if we would take him on his first deer hunt and of course I couldn’t wait to get him into a box stand with me. Hopefully we could keep his attention long enough to see some deer and maybe get a shot at one. He was more there to see if he would even like the sitting and waiting, more than the shooting part, as he really isn’t ready to shoot a rifle big enough for whitetail hunting. We didn’t want to scare him with the recoil of a bigger rifle than his BB gun and ruin any possible future hunting my little buddy may want to pursue.
So we hit the woods, and after about 2 1/2 hours, he decided that he had enough. Fortunately though, it was 2 1/2 hours of no video games as it was at the camp charging, so I had the time to talk and enjoy him without any distractions. With no success that evening and him not wanting to get up early enough to go to a stand the next morning, I decided to head out on my own. I am not one to sleep in and miss an opportunity to help out the herd, whether it be filling a doe tag or shooting a cull ,which is part of the needs of managing a place for growing potential trophy whitetails. So I got up, woke my dad and we made our way out to two different stands.
I dropped him off in a box blind that he had never hunted but that we had seen some great rutting activity the week before. With the rut still being pretty strong, I felt he might have a great opportunity to shoot a nice buck that we had been seeing from this stand. I elected for some unknown reason, to go back to the same tripod I had taken my nice 9 point two weeks prior, which sits in the crossroads of a food plot in the middle of a pine plantation. Early on I had a young buck step out on me into the food plot at about 30 yards. I had brought my Lone Wolf Dist. Glock .40 SUPER with me in case I had a doe or a cull step out within range, I was going to take one with my custom handgun built for hunting. This deer fit the distance criteria and would have been a perfect chip shot, but he didn’t fit the “shootable” criteria, so he got a pass. Disappointed was an understatement as this was the only deer I had seen to this point but I knew this was a main travel corridor and I surely would get another opportunity. A couple of days prior to us getting up to camp, my buddy had sat in one of his box blinds on a huge power line and saw a great cull with a mangled looking rack and a messed up right front leg that he wasn’t walking on at all. He told us the deer needed to be shot if we saw him. The hope was that my dad would see him and get a shot or that one of Steve’s daughters or his daughter’s boyfriend would see him and get a shot at him. Not to be!
About an hour after that young buck crossed my plot, about 205 yards down the food plot in an opening I see a deer come out of the pines and stop in the opening, looking my direction. I knew he couldn’t and hadn’t seen me as it was a long way off and my OPTIFADE Forest camo had me concealed, but something had his attention long enough for me to get him in my scope. Yes, I had my .300 WSM with me as well for just this reason and as I got a good look at him I could tell his antlers looked odd, but the instant that he started to move on and I saw the busted up leg he wasn’t walking on….BOOM! I squeezed the trigger and he went down where he was standing. I gave him a few minutes, clearly being able to see him from where I was sitting and knowing that he was not getting up, I let him expire and then I got down to go and recover my cull buck and see him up close.
Now I have seen some unique racks in my hunting time, but this one was extremely unique. Twisted, massive and very cool. The first thing that really stuck out to me was the mass. The bases of his antlers wound up measuring 6 1/8″ on the right side and 5 3/8″ on the left side. He was a 6 point with great character and I was super happy to have taken such a unique buck.
After I got done cleaning him up, I cut out his jawbone so that we could get him aged properly. Everyone was very interested to see what the age of this deer was going to be as he was definitely a mature whitetail. He had a rusty top on his head and a round roman nose. His teeth were black and worn but not as worn as we anticipated and he seemed to be pretty prime. After sending some pics of the jawbone to a friend of mine that is a biologist for the Louisiana Dept of Wildlife and Fisheries, he and four other guys looked at the pics and determined they believe him to be 5.5 to 6.5 years old but felt confident in 5.5 for sure.
Once again I had another memorable weekend at my buddy’s place in the middle of Mississippi with my dad, my sister and brother-in-law, my nephew Bishop and my buddy Steve. I have definitely had a season full of memories and I won’t soon forget any of them!”
Sitka Gear Pro Staff, GORE™ OPTIFADE™ Team