Hunting Big Game Hunting Deer Hunting Whitetail Deer Hunting

Mississippi Hunter Grunts in 14-Point Drop-Tine Buck

"I blew the call twice more, and he took a few steps in my direction. Then I blew three more times, and he started trotting to me across the pasture"
Bob McNally Avatar
A hunter kneels next to a buck he recovered with the help of two blood-tracking dogs.
Dustin Stanford kneels next to the 14-point buck that he recovered with the help of two blood-tracking dogs (pictured.) Photograph by David Ogg

Dustin Stanford had a good start to the New Year. On the first day of 2024, the hunter from Shannon, Mississippi, tagged a nice 8-point on a small piece of private land near Tupelo. Two days later, on Jan. 3, he went back to the same property and climbed into the same stand to see if he could notch his second buck tag of the season. (Mississippi regulations allow hunters to take three bucks per season.)

The tree stand was situated on the edge of an open, grassy field. He’d seen some smaller bucks and does pass through the field during his hunt on New Year’s Day, and the rut was still in high gear. But he saw very little movement all afternoon.

“I didn’t see anything until about 5 p.m., when I spotted a deer 400 yards away,” Stanford tells Outdoor Life. “I got my binoculars on the buck and saw he was huge. He was on the move, though, and had no intention of turning my way.”

Stanford, who carried a bolt-action rifle chambered in .300 Win Mag, wasn’t comfortable taking a shot from that distance. He worried for a second, unsure of what to do next. Then he remembered the grunt tube he’d brought along, and he blew it twice.

“The buck stopped and looked my way,” Stanford says. “I blew the call twice more, and he took a few steps in my direction. Then I blew three more times, and he started trotting to me across the pasture.”

The deer made a bee-line toward Stanford’s tree. When it got to 50 yards, it turned slightly and offered him a quartering-to shot. Stanford raised his rifle, took aim, and fired.

“I knew I hit him, and he ran right in front of me and into a big thicket,” he says. “I set my rifle on my lap and called my wife Melinda and told her I’d shot a monster buck.”

After waiting a few minutes, Stanford climbed down and walked over to where he’d shot the buck. It was getting dark, but after getting a flashlight from his truck, he finally found a blood trail. He followed the trail into thick cover, and it led him to a spot where five different deer trails split off in all directions. So, he backed out and called his hunting buddy Lee Herndon, who connected him with local deer tracker David Ogg.

Ogg met Stanford at the property around 9 p.m. He brought along two blood-tracking dogs, Copper and Lucy, and they got on the trail right away.

A deer hunter and his son  with a big Mississippi buck in the bed of a truck.
Stanford and his son with the buck loaded up in a truck bed.

Photograph courtesy Dustin Stanford

“Those dogs knew their stuff,” Stanford says. “They found the buck about 100 yards from where the five trails split, in some of the most gosh-awful thick cover imaginable.”

Read Next: New Blood Tracking App Could Change Everything We Know About Recovering Wounded Deer

Getting the small-bodied buck back to Stanford’s truck was the easier part since it weighed less than 140 pounds. But what it lacked in weight it made up for in antlers. Even with three tines broken off from fighting during the rut, the rack still had 14 scoreable points. Stanford’s taxidermist green-scored it at 152 7/8 inches.

“This 14-pointer is by far the biggest buck I’ve shot or seen, and it’s really put the deer hunting drive in me,” says Stanford, who started chasing whitetails 12 years ago. “I’m going to hunt hard through the end of the season on Jan. 31.”