January 24, 2024
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When Caroline Winters spotted a 3 1/2-year-old Mississippi buck during a hunt in 2021, she thought it could grow into something really special. So, she decided to let him walk. To clarify, this deer was already over 140 inches and on a small property. Passing it was a huge roll of the dice!
“I knew if I shot him, he was never going to get any bigger,” Caroline says. “I just had to take the chance that the neighbors wouldn’t see him.”
When the 2022 season arrived, the buck, now named “Tall Ten,” blew up and passed the 160 mark. Caroline and her husband, Rick, both had several chances to take him again, but they decided early on to give him another year. However, they knew that anyone who saw the buck would surely take him out. And toward the end of a poor season, Caroline decided that she would, too. She got the chance, but she saw the buck had one side gone.
“I said to myself, ‘that is God telling me to let him have another year,’” Caroline recalls. “So, I held off again!”
Against the odds, the buck made it through that hunting season and was seen frequently over the next summer. By the start of archery season, he was a 190-class deer and the top target on their farm.
Caroline and Rick were eager to wrap their hands around that big rack, but the deer would not make it easy. He always seemed to be in another area when they were after him. Their cell cameras confirmed that he was still close by. During the archery season, Caroline had an encounter at 60 yards. She was not comfortable taking that shot, so she just watched him feed and slipped out after dark.
When the gun season began, Caroline was busy finishing up her last semester of college. She hunted opening day, but not much after that. The giant was rarely out in the open in the morning, and by the time she got home from school, there was no time to get out to the woods. T.T., as the buck was now called, was still out there and doing well. Fortunately for Caroline, Thanksgiving was coming!
The family gathered for a big Thanksgiving meal, and Caroline considered making an early exit. That plan fell flat and she was a lot later getting out to hunt than she preferred. Also, the wind was all wrong. So, she went to Rick’s stand, where he had seen T.T. during archery season. Rick was in a stand on another field not far away.
Deer began to show up, and Caroline was sending text updates when she noticed T.T. stepping out of the woods 160 yards away. She stopped texting, picked up her binos and confirmed it was him.
“I tend to rush my shots,” Caroline explains. “And this time I wanted to take my time!”
The monster buck was moving further away with every step. He pushed some does around, then settled into feeding. This was her chance.
Caroline calmed her nerves, reminded herself to take her time and squeezed off the shot. T.T. headed back into the woods and out of sight. It took a few nervous minutes to locate him, but the buck had only gone a few yards and was done!
The rack sports a classic 10-point frame, with main beams passed 25 inches, long tines, a common base and some extra points. Caroline’s buck is a true Mississippi giant, and her patience allowed him to reach his full potential.