SADDLE GEAR: Tethrd Phantom, Predator Platform, Leverage sticks.
I tagged out in my home state of Tennessee early in December, so I was really looking forward to a late season Mississippi hunt. Aaron Warbritton, and the THP guys invited me to join them on their “Deer Tour”. I made a 5 hour drive late on a Wed night to meet up with the boys at camp. The rains came almost the entire drive there. Speaking to Warb, they decided to get a hotel a couple hours away due to the hard rain. They didn’t want to drive anymore in the major storms. I ended up sleeping in my truck at a rest stop that night. THP decided to take their time coming in because storms and rain was forecast for the rest of the day. I put on my rain gear and went out to the public lands to get some boots on the ground and scout.
Getting out on new lands is always exciting for me. This was especially exciting due to never hunting swamps or that particular environment before. With all the rain from the past couple days the water had risen substantially in the swamps. Many of the places I’d marked on onX were completely under water and tough to access.
After scouting for a couple hours, I met up with the group at the camp ground. The rains kept coming till the next morning around (Friday) 9am. I did an all day sit. I saw 3 does and had one small buck encounter which was very tempting to shoot, but gave him a pass. This particular public piece has antler restrictions of 15″ wide or a beam of 18″ in length. The buck I passed was border line in those areas, but it was still a rush all the same. Walking out of the swamp that night I was 2 feet away from stepping on a cottonmouth. I wasn’t so sure about all the possible reptile encounters in the swamp!
I got back to camp Friday evening and we sat around exchanging intel from the day while game planning for the next morning. I decided to take some advice from Lee, the guy who graciously let us camp out at his place. He showed me on the map some rarely touched land where he’s seen good bucks. This spot was rarely touched due to difficult tree climbing options and tough access. I got in early Sat morning and found good fresh sign about 100 yards from the road. I set my platform on a tiny tree 1 foot off the ground. I sat until noon without a deer sighting. Lee texted me and said he was going to hunt deep in the swamps that evening, and asked if I’d like to go. I took him up on his offer, and met him at the OnX pin he shared with me.
I arrived at the location first. Once Lee pulled up, he immediately knew we wouldn’t be able to access the location as he normally would due to the water level rising so much. He told me to hang tight that he’d be back. A while later, Lee came back with a small boat in the back of his truck. He borrowed a pirogue from a neighbor. We carried it down to the swamp and loaded up. I had never been in a pirogue before and learned really quickly how tippy they are. After a 10 minute paddle through the swamp, we found ground that we could walk on. We sloshed around for about 1.5 miles, and encounter more deep water. Just in the trees, Lee had a canoe hidden for this part of the trek. I’ve been in some tough to get to spots, but nothing like the adventure I’ve taken with this swamp journey. Lee has definitely worked hard to hunt this area.
We hauled our gear to the 2nd boat and start the next portion of the trip. We made it another 2 miles and once again found ground we could walk. Lee tells me he has a climber about 300 yards to the east and that I can go anywhere I like. Deer in the swamps tend to not have any certain path they like to travel. The food is plenty and they bed wherever they can. I didn’t stray to far before I found some fresh tracks and felt that would be a good spot based on not seeing much else. I set up with the wind in my face around 2:30.
Lee texted me shortly after I was settled in the tree and said he was set up, ready to go, 300 yards away. The next hour I received multiple texts from Lee alerting me of 3-4 shooter bucks that skirt his range. I joke with him about pushing them my way etc. He talks of moving his stand closer to where he’s seeing the bucks and then goes quiet.
4pm comes and I catch my first movement of the afternoon. I see horns 100 yards away to my exact 3 o’clock. The buck gets closer and all I can see is great horns. I push of the left side of my predator platform and move to hide my silhouette for the buck is coming in to me on a line. I had already ranged my shots and knew my windows. It looked as if the buck was gonna come straight under my tree. He gets to within 25 yards and takes a straight left turn into the swamp. He walks into one of my windows and stops broadside. It was the perfect scenario. I was already drawn back at his time.
I let the arrow fly and saw bright red blood immediately. I watched my arrow go in and then see it come back out halfway. The buck takes off, smacks a tree, and keeps going out of sight. I listened to what I thought was him going down. I felt good about the shot and location of it, but was a little worried seeing the arrow come back out. I remembered when I was at full draw that my phone was vibrating in my pocket. I pull it out after the excitement to text Lee, only to see that it was him who texted me while I was at full draw. The text read: “good buck potentially headed your way”. I texted him back at this point and said “yea I just shot him”. He replied back with a “Hell Yea”. Come to find out….Lee saw this buck following a doe and he grunted him in but not close enough for a shot. The deer left soon after looking for the doe.
I packed up my gear and climbed down to go look for my arrow and blood. I found good blood immediately with nice looking air bubbles. At this point, I was super confident knowing it was a solid lung shot. I followed the blood trail to the tree the buck smacked and found half my arrow covered with blood. The trail was easy to follow from there about 40 more yards. I walked up to the buck and he was down for the count. I texted Lee and the THP boys to let them know the news. I told Lee to keep hunting. I was going to sit back and enjoy the moment and the adventure of the whole experience. We ended up covering the buck with a couple T-shirts to have human scent oh him and planned to come back in and get him after the morning hunt to de-bone and pack out. I’m glad we did it that way because it was still rather tough packing him out in daylight through that swamp. We never found the other section of the arrow and broadhead. I found out that it had passed through, came out and hit his opposite leg bone.
It sure was a great feeling to end my deer season with a Mississippi swamp monster.