A Mississippi hunter took a chance when she gave a young buck on a small tract of land a pass in hope he’d make it to maturity. Two years later it paid off as the 3-year-old 140-class deer grew into a 190-inch buck of a lifetime.
“We’d watched this deer for three years,” said Caroline Winters of Lambert. “When we first saw him, he was three years old.
“He was a 140-inch 10-point. We were a little wary of letting him walk, but we did. We were so nervous. Even as a 3-year-old, so many people would have shot him.”
To make it even more of a gamble, the tract of land the buck was on is only 80 acres and common sense told the Mississippi State University senior the buck wasn’t living exclusively on the property.
“He was a young deer and we knew he had potential, but if anyone saw him they would have shot him if they got the opportunity,” Winters said. “It was definitely a lot of stress for those three years.”
It may have been stressful, but the following season it was clear that patience was paying off. Not only was the buck alive, his antlers were in the 160-inch range. However, being in the 160s made him even more of a target if another hunter saw him. Even so, Winters, her husband, Rick, and her father, Ray Crawford, stayed the course and rolled the dice again.
“It was a lot of stress, for sure,” Winters said.
The buck became a giant
The gamble paid off, once again. The buck had eluded other hunters and made it to five years old. His rack had exploded into something most hunters only see in magazines or on television.
Harvesting him was another matter. Winters said she and her husband hunted every chance they they could and both had encounters with the buck during archery season. Both times, he was out of range. That would change on Thanksgiving Day.
“We were running late because of Thanksgiving lunch, of course,” Winters said. “I think I got in the stand about 3:30ish. I saw a lot of does that afternoon.”
The does somewhat deflated her confidence. Winters said the buck was typically with a younger buck, not with does.
But this was a different day.
The big buck appears
“I was texting back and forth with Rick and I saw him step out of the woods,” Winters said. “I think he came out to the ladies because when he came out he was chasing does.”
The buck turned and started feeding. That gave Winters a shot, but she had to calm herself down first.
“Honestly, my biggest feeling was, ‘Don’t mess this up,’” Winters said. “I didn’t want to miss him or wound him and make him suffer.
“I stopped myself from rushing it. I didn’t shoot until I was comfortable.”
Winters said she felt the shot was perfect, but other than running away, the buck didn’t react like he was hit. Her husband and father came to help track it, but didn’t immediately find him. Winters said she was ready to back out and call for a tracking dog, but at that moment, her father found the buck only 70 yards away.
The buck Winters had been watching and worrying about for three seasons was hers.
An emotional moment for Mississippi deer hunter
“We got up to him and there was no ground shrinkage, for sure,” Winters said. “He was just as pretty as the pictures.”
The main beams are 25 6/8 inches and 26 inches with a 17 3/8-inch inside spread. The bases are 6 inches and 5 inches with mass that carries all the way out. He has a split G2 on one side and G3s measuring 11 1/8 inches. Winters said the unofficial gross score is 191.875 inches.
It was a moment she’s not likely to ever forget.
“It really just felt surreal. Three years of watching this deer — all I could do was sit down beside him. I was tearing up. All those emotions coming together — it was amazing.”