A bowhunter was chasing a giant 9-point Mississippi Delta buck, but time wasn't on his side. There were crops to harvest and other hunters were after the same buck, too. However, wet fields, time in the stand and patience helped him harvest his biggest buck to date.
"I hunted him a week straight, mornings and afternoons," Caleb Poe of Clarksdale said. "The reason being, other people knew where he was.
"I had one encounter with him, but it was right at dark. He was at 50 yards, but I didn't take the shot because I didn't want to take the chance of wounding him."
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It was early October during archery season in Coahoma County. Poe had seen the buck crossing a road. He placed cameras on nearby persimmon trees to see if the buck was frequenting the area. Images revealed the buck was feeding on the fruit.
"He was hitting three different persimmon trees, but he didn't have a definite pattern," Poe said.
He said the buck would feed at one tree one day and others at other times, so the lack of a pattern presented a challenge, particularly with the limited range of archery equipment.
Poe said he set up a stand nearby and that produced the one encounter he had with the buck over a period of a week. Poe, who works on a farm, said he he had time off from work because wet conditions prevented him from working in the fields, but conditions changed.
"After that it dried up and I had to get in the fields for two days," Poe said.
Those two days almost caused Poe's fear of someone else harvesting the deer to become a reality. He said another hunter had the buck within range to shoot. Luckily for Poe, the hunter missed.
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Hunting success comes slowly
Due to wet weather, harvesting crops was an on and off again job. October 16 was one of the off days for working in the fields.
"I went in that morning and hunted and checked my cameras," Poe said. "He had been there. I went back that afternoon."
The long hours in the stand were about to pay off, but it didn't happen quickly. The buck showed up and slowly made his way toward the persimmon trees. It was painfully slow for Poe.
"I actually had to watch him 45 minutes while he crossed a cutover," Poe said. "I was a nervous wreck at first.
"The closer he got the more it set in this was my final opportunity to kill him — don't mess it up."
The buck came within 50 yards of Poe and he drew his bow, but the buck walked behind a limb. Poe eased the string down. The buck passed the limb and continued toward a persimmon tree.
Poe drew back again.
"That's when he stopped in the middle of the road," Poe said. "He was at 45 yards and I took the shot."
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A long wait and a buck bigger than expected
The shot was good, but not perfect. Poe said it was a little far back on the rib cage. He decided to wait three hours to make sure the deer was dead before trailing it.
It turned out to be a wise decision because Poe said when the buck was found it showed no sign of rigor mortis, which told him it had not been dead long.
"Thank God I did," Poe said. "If I hadn't I probably would have jumped him and pushed him I don't know how far. I tell people, 'Patience is the key to killing a big deer.'"
And a big deer it was. The official gross-score was 175½ inches — much larger than the 160-165 score Poe estimated. The buck had 27-inch and 28-inch main beams, G2s measuring 13⅝ inches and 14 inches with G3s averaging 13 inches.
Those lengths caused Poe to overlook the 5½-inch and 5¾-inch bases and the mass that kept adding to the score — until he got his hands on the antlers.
"Because he's so long, you can't see the mass," Poe said. "The mass, it carries.
"He was 4 inches, 4½ all the way out to the tip. When I pulled him out of the kudzu it was a moment I'll never forget."
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Deer hunter bags 170-class Mississippi Delta buck with bow