My Own Backyard - Paul Brown's Story

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Deer Hunter
Paul Brown is one happy hunter after tracking this trophy for almost a year. The typical buck grossed 192 3/8 and netted 171 4/8.

Midmorning I called my friend and neighbor Johnny Granberry, an accomplished wildlife artist, and asked him for a weather report. “It sucks,” he said bluntly. “Around 40 degrees, drizzling rain, and a strong east-southeast wind. Oh, and there are really dark, heavy, low clouds.”

“Well, this is my last chance to hunt,” I said. “Why don’t you come go with me?” I’d been inviting Johnny all year, but he was one of my friends who was afraid if he killed the big buck, I’d never speak to him again. And he was likely right.

“Come on, man, hunt with me this one time,” I insisted. “I’ll give you your choice of treestands. Be thinking about where you want to go.”

“Alright. What time?”

“Meet me at my gate at 3:00.”

I arrived at the gate at 2:30 on the dot. Johnny rolled in shortly after.

“You decided where you wanna go?” I asked.

“Yeah, I think I’ll go to the clover field where you found the shed.”

“Good choice.”

“Where’re you gonna go?”

“I’ll go to the landing strip,” I said, referring to a lush field planted in a fall crop of BioLogic Green Patch Plus, which butted into the tank-stand clover field. I wasn’t going to sit in that tank stand another fruitless day.

Boone and Crockett Buck
Paul Brown (left) is congratulated by Official B&C scorer Rick Dillard.

A side benefit of one of BioLogic’s mixes is tasty brassicas—turnip greens and rape. We eat it all winter. Johnny loves the stuff. He wanted to pick a sack full, so I tried to hurry him along and get the task over with. It was past time to take our stands. So, we headed up the hill with our Wal-Mart bags fluttering in the breeze, only a couple of hundred yards from the cabin.

Just before reaching the turnip patch, a pack of loudly barking dogs, hot on the heels of a deer, were headed straight for us. We watched as a doe, with dogs in pursuit, skirted the edge of the turnip patch and headed directly to the landing strip.

“Great!” I said. “Here it is prime time and dogs run right through our hunting territory. What else can happen?”

“Well, we’re here,” Johnny offered. “Let me get a few more greens and we’ll go.”

“I should’ve gone home,” I said, having just driven eight hours in a rush to get in a treestand.

By now, it was close to 3:30, and official sunset was 5:15, with legal shooting time over at 5:45.

Johnny and I split up and headed to our stands. I had to walk past the tank stand and through the clover field to get to the landing strip. As I passed the 12-foot-high stand, I whispered “Good riddance” under my breath. I got almost to the landing strip stand when I noticed the wind was blowing consistently out of the east—the worst wind for that stand. I stood in the field for a moment to reflect on the day.

Boone and Crockett Buck
Biologist Chad Dacus (left) and Paul Brown compare the shed found 2-11-07 to the buck taken 1-16-08.

I have no choice but to do a U-turn and get in the tank stand. I was perturbed. What a fitting way to end the hunting season. Had Johnny not been there, I might’ve called it a season. Might’ve.

I climbed into the tank—that afternoon I changed the name to “the penalty box”—for one final hunt. I watched as the east wind whipped the treetops on the opposite side of the field. As expected, I didn’t see a deer the first two hours. I checked my watch and it was 5:30 and darker than usual for that time of the day. About five minutes later, I saw two deer in the landing strip slicing through the dimness straight toward my field. I found the deer in my binoculars and thought, That’s two bucks, and the one on the right is a pretty good one.

I studied the two as they took turns servicing a deer scrape and limb licking. I thought it odd for two mature bucks to be traveling peacefully together at this time of the year. Still watching through the binoculars, the bucks entered my field and made a 90-degree turn to my right. “That’s him!” I whispered aloud. I dropped the binoculars to my chest and reached for my 7mm magnum.

By the time I got the gun out the narrow window, the two bucks had walked another 50 yards. At first, I put the crosshairs on the wrong buck. Finally, I found the right buck and placed the crosshairs behind his shoulder, but I was doing figure eights all over the buck’s front shoulder. I’ve never had a worse case of buck fever. The anticipation, the planning, the dreaming were all on my shoulders at that moment.

I told myself, You have got to get hold of yourself if you are going to shoot this deer! I took a deep breath, then said a short prayer: Lord, please guide this bullet.

I fired. The buck wheeled 180 degrees and went down.

Boone and Crockett Buck
Paul Brown (right) and friend, Johnny Granberry, pose with the buck Johnny could’ve taken had he chosen “the tank stand.

I didn’t try to process all of my emotions; I simply embraced them. I was on a high only deer hunters can understand.

I climbed out of the shoot house at 5:45 and jogged over to put my hands on the buck that had eluded me all season. What a trophy buck!

Johnny had chosen the wrong stand, and I almost did, too. The tank stand turned out to be the right place after all. Funny how things work out.

The next morning I called friend Rick Dillard, an official scorer for Boone and Crockett. He agreed to come to my place to green-score the deer.

At that point, I didn’t care if the buck made the book or not. I felt blessed to have just been a part of a hunt that lasted nearly a year.

Rick arrived around noon Thursday, took a few pictures, and began measuring. After checking and rechecking his figures, Rick revealed a gross score of 192 3/8 and a net of 171 4/8. The score held after the 60-day drying period and has been accepted by Boone and Crockett. The buck becomes the first typical Boone and Crockett ever registered from Holmes County. The 17 scoreable points are the most of any typical book buck killed in Mississippi.

I will concede, luck plays an important role in taking a B&C buck. But so too do good neighbors, a quality deer management strategy, and passing young bucks.

My pursuit of a book buck outside the borders of Mississippi was fun, exciting, and rewarding in so many ways, but I never really had to leave home to realize my dream.

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