When 8-year-old Winston Pleasant of Jackson, Mississippi, shot his first buck, he achieved something he'll possibly never top. The giant buck unofficially gross-scored over 167; a size few hunters can claim.
Not only was it a giant buck, weighing an estimated 270 pounds, but where it came from is a mystery.
"Nobody had seen him," said the boy's father, Chandler Pleasant. "Even in the spot where he killed him, we have trail cameras and nobody had seen him.
"It was a complete surprise. That was the biggest deer killed on that property in 10 years."
STAY UP-TO-DATE: Subscribe to our Sports newsletter now!
It was Nov. 12, the second Saturday of youth season for deer. A cold front had pushed through and temperatures had plummeted. Additionally, the property had not seen much hunting pressure at that point, so Pleasant felt there was a good chance his son would harvest his first buck.
"We weren't hunting for a giant," Pleasant said. "I just wanted Win to get his first buck. It didn't matter what size, we just wanted a mature buck."
Trophy buck shows up too soon
The opportunity came and it came quickly — too quickly. Winston was in the box blind, but his father was on the top step when seven deer walked into the power line lane. Pleasant said one buck looked like he would score in the 140's, but the opportunity to shoot him was gone before the two could get set up.
Like just about any hunter would have been, the two were upset. Had they arrived five minutes earlier, the hunt would have been over and Pleasant would have been taking photos of his son with his first buck — and a big one at that.
Although they didn't know it at the time, they were lucky that didn't happen. It was turning into a magical afternoon and deer movement was very high.
"We saw 42 deer," Pleasant said. "That was unusual.
"There were deer all over the place. There was never a point in the sit when we didn't have a deer in front of us except maybe 10 or 15 minutes. It was unquestionably the craziest hunt I've ever been on."
Pleasant said his son had been doing a good bit of target practice with his AR-15 during the off-season. Chambered in .300 AAC Blackout, the low-recoil round and the telescopic stock that can be adjusted to fit Winston's small frame make an ideal combination for young hunters, Pleasant said.
Pleasant said Winston harvested three does in the previous two seasons and he was confident in his son's shooting ability out to about 150 yards.
As many deer as they were seeing, though, nothing came into view that Winston wanted to take — until just after 5 p.m.
A buck of a lifetime for young Mississippi hunter
"I looked and immediately knew he was a shooter," Pleasant said. "When I glassed him I thought, 'That's a toad.'
"It could not have been any better. He walked out at 111 yards and he was dead still. When I saw the size of the deer I told Win, 'That's a really big deer. Take your time and don't miss.'"
Pleasant said in hindsight, that probably wasn't the best thing to say because it could have put more pressure on his son, but it didn't matter. Winston dropped the buck where it stood.
"He took his time and he smoked him," Pleasant said. "The deer fell on the spot. We were immediately celebrating."
There was plenty to celebrate. The buck that seemed to come out of the blue, weighing about 270 pounds, would put a lot of meet in the freezer.
Then there were the antlers.
The buck had 12 points and a split brow tine. The main beams measured 25 1/8 inches and 24 6/8 inches with a 17 6/8-inch inside spread. The gross score was 167 4/8 inches.
For most hunters, that's a buck of a lifetime and raises the question of what comes next for the young hunter.
"That's pretty much what everyone has said," Pleasant said. "He started at the top, for sure. I told Win, 'You may never see one like him again,' but who knows."
Contact Brian Broom at 601-961-7225 or email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: 8-year-old Mississippi deer hunter harvests 167-inch buck