Hunting Big Game Hunting Deer Hunting Whitetail Deer Hunting

Hunter Makes Surprise Shot on Wary Mississippi Buck During the Rut

Rowdy Galjour and some of his hunting buddies had long been after the battle-worn buck, which they nicknamed "Holyfield" for its torn-up ears
Bob McNally Avatar
Rowdy Galjour poses with a large whitetail buck.
The buck earned the nickname "Holyfield" for the gashes in his ears. Photograph courtesy of Rowdy Galjour

It was still dark on Jan. 13 when Rowdy Galjour set up behind a fallen tree on a ridge full of oaks in southwestern Mississippi. Galjour, who lives in Cut Off, Louisiana, could have chosen to hunt from a tree stand in a nearby draw. He’d hunted that stand plenty of times. It was one of many setups on the 600-acre hunting lease in Claiborne County where he’s been a member for the last 20 years. But with temperatures in the mid-20s and the rut still in full swing, Galjour though he’d have a better chance at catching a buck traveling along the ridgeline.

The 59-year-old hunter also knew there was still a giant in the area. Over the past five years, he and some other hunters on the lease had built a collection of trail cam photos of a buck they’d nicknamed “Holyfield.” They’d all tried going after the buck at one point or another.   

“We recognized the buck in photos by distinctive tears in both ears,” Galjour says, “which is why we nicknamed him ‘Holyfield’ — like the boxer who Mike Tyson chewed on some years ago.”

A trail cam photo of the "Holyfield" buck taken in December.
A trail cam photo of “Holyfield” that was taken on the lease in December.

Photograph courtesy Rowdy Galjour

The sly, old buck rarely showed itself during the daytime, though, and nearly all the photos they’d captured were taken late at night. The last time anyone had seen “Holyfield” was earlier in the season, when a hunter missed the buck clean with a rifle. Galjour says it became even more elusive after that.

So, when a buck suddenly appeared on the ridgeline where Galjour was hunting on Jan. 13, he didn’t expect it to be the buck. The deer stood only 30 yards away, and Galjour moved quickly to shoulder his 12-gauge Browning and snap off a shot. He squeezed the trigger before he could get a good look at its antlers, one of which features a backward-facing kicker similar to a typical elk antler. The buck fell dead in its tracks.

A hunter poses with a whitetail buck with injured ears.
The buck’s distinctive ears made him stand out in the woods.

Photograph courtesy of Rowdy Galjour

“I just had time to grab my shotgun, get it on him, and pull the trigger,” Galjour tells Outdoor Life. “I knew it was a buck, but I had no idea it was Holyfield until I walked up to him. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it could be that deer because he’d been so sly.”

Read Next: Bowhunter Arrows Two Big Bucks in 2 Minutes, Watches Them Fall in the Same Spot

Galjour says his taxidermist gave the 12-point buck a green score of 153 inches. He says Holyfield was worn ragged from the rut and he estimated the buck’s live weight at less than 150 pounds. “He was a battle-weary buck,” Galjour says, “and a tough one to get.”