As soon as the feast ended on Thanksgiving, Caroline Winters and her husband Rick headed for the deer stand. They rushed to their family’s farm in Mississippi’s Tallahatchie County and got there by mid-afternoon.
“We were later getting into our blinds than we wanted,” Caroline tells Outdoor Life. “I didn’t get into my elevated box blind until 3:45 p.m.”
The wind wasn’t right at her usual spot. So, she’d gone to a blind that her husband Rick usually hunted from while he went elsewhere. The elevated box blind she was in looked over a standing soybean patch.
“It’s a great place that deer just love, with beans situated between two woodlot brakes,” Caroline, a senior at Mississippi State University, says. “Almost right away there were does feeding in the beans, and I figured I wouldn’t see the big buck we were after because the rut wasn’t really kicked in yet.”
The “big buck” was one that she and her family had been watching over the last three years. In 2022, it was a tall 10-point that they estimated around 160 inches. They’d nicknamed it “TT” (short for “Tall Ten”). This year, the buck had grown even bigger, with 13 tall tines in total.
“Usually, younger bucks showed first on that bean field, and I wasn’t real enthusiastic about seeing TT that evening,” the part-time Mississippi Department of Wildlife employee says. “But about an hour after I got in the blind, out he stepped from a woodlot and started pushing around some of the does like he would in pre-rut.”
The giant buck was 170 yards from Caroline when it turned around to chase the does. But at 200 yards, it stopped and turned broadside. Caroline took careful aim with her scoped .30-06 and squeezed the trigger.
“I felt like I made a good shot, but he didn’t really run. He just moved off into the woods 10 yards away and disappeared.”
She immediately called her husband and father, who was also hunting nearby, and they headed her way. Soon after, they went to where Caroline had last seen the deer and searched for a blood trail.
“There wasn’t much we could see, and I was getting anxious and wanted to stop looking and call for a tracking dog,” she says. “But just as I told Rick that, my dad found the buck in the woods. TT only ran about 70 yards.”
The sun was beginning to set as the family dragged Caroline’s giant buck to a nearby truck, loaded the deer, and headed to their farmhouse. The estimated 5.5-year-old weighed 230 pounds. They measured the 13-point buck and gave it a green gross score of just under 192 inches. Its main beams are around 26 inches long, with an inside spread of 17 3/8 inches. Caroline plans to eventually have it measured by a Boone and Crockett scorer.
“We knew three years ago he was a special buck. And last year when he was a 10-point, he was incredible,” Caroline says. “In fact, I was going to shoot him late last season, but by that time he’d already shed one of his antlers. I knew that was a heavenly sign to let him live another year … and what he became is just surreal to me and my family.”