- The deer had been tracked by researchers from Mississippi State University for study.
- Buck No. 140 swam roughly one mile across the Mississippi River.
- The large deer was the most famous in the state.
What he didn’t realize at the time was he’d also bagged what is probably the most famous deer in the state; Buck No. 140.
“We were talking about him on the way up,” said Trevor Martin of Hurley, Mississippi. “When you go in the woods you never know what you’ll see, but I never expected that to happen. That’s like winning the lottery. It’s like one in a million.”
Martin and friend Aaron Graham, also of Hurley, had been selected in a drawing to hunt the Ten Point Unit of Phil Bryant Wildlife Management Area, near the border with Louisiana. It’s an area named after what was once one of Mississippi’s oldest hunting clubs.
It’s also the winter haunt of Buck No. 140.
The story of Buck No. 140
Buck No. 140 was captured in the winter of 2020. He was outfitted with ear tags and a GPS collar for a study on deer movement conducted by Mississippi State University and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
He caught the attention of researchers the following spring when he traveled 18 miles into Louisiana and swam roughly a mile across the Mississippi River along the way.
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That caught the attention of Clarion Ledger, part of the USA TODAY Network, readers, too. Hundreds of thousands of people read about his journey.
Buck No. 140 remained in Louisiana until fall when he returned to Mississippi. Over the course of two years, Buck No. 140 crossed the river four times as he traveled back and forth between his winter and summer ranges.
The most recent story was about a hunter who found Buck No. 140’s collar, which was programmed to drop off in November. It was also found in the Ten Point Unit.
“Me and my buddy were actually reading the story in the Clarion Ledger prior to coming up here,” Martin said. “We’ve been following the stories about him swimming the Mississippi River a mile. That’s crazy.”
Mississippi deer hunter spots a big buck
On Dec. 17, things were about to get crazier. Martin said he’d been hunting hard for three days.
“We never left the woods,” Martin said. “I took my pack in and packed in sandwiches.”
Martin had initially intended to hunt a field that afternoon, but after hunting all day for three days and carrying a heavy pack, he decided to hunt on a pipeline that was closer to where he and Graham had parked their vehicle.
Deer began to filter in. To his right he could see three bucks feeding as well as three hogs. To his left were three does. He was watching the bucks and then looked toward the does when he saw another buck.
“I got my binoculars and saw he was a big buck,” Martin said. “He was acting like he was headed back into the treeline.
“Five good steps and he would have been back in the treeline. I was like, ‘Oh no, you’re not getting away from me.’ I squeezed off the trigger and let him have it.”
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Hunter realizes he’s bagged Buck No. 140
The buck was more than 200 yards away, but Martin felt the shot was good. Graham came to help recover the deer. That’s when Martin saw the tags.
“I was so shocked,” Martin said. “I didn’t even know he had tags when I shot him.
“I had to walk 150 to 200 yards and when I lifted his rack I noticed he had the tags and I said, ‘Oh, God.’ I was just ecstatic. Me and my friend were like a couple of school girls freaking out. I’ve never killed a buck like that.”
When the two arrived at the camp where they were staying, a crowd had gathered.
“There was a group of people hanging out waiting to see him,” Martin said. “Everybody knew about him.”
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While the study that Buck No. 140 was involved in has concluded, he potentially still carries valuable information. The deer winters in the heart of a chronic wasting disease management zone. The disease is always fatal and affects white-tailed deer and other cervids.
Researchers have asked hunters to shoot Buck No. 140 and have him tested for the disease. If he tests positive, it would make a clear and unambiguous statement to wildlife policy-makers that deer can spread CWD over long distances.
Martin said he will have the buck tested when he takes it to a taxidermist for mounting. He also said that while he’s excited about having the buck mounted, there’s one thing missing that would help tell the story of the famous buck to those who see it in the future — the collar.
“I’d love to have it,” Martin said. “That would be the whole package.”
Contact Brian Broom at email@example.com.
Story Credit: usatoday.com