Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Blackwater Beast

Harmontown, MS> Growing up, my father taught us everything we needed to know about hunting and the woods. As we got older, it was exciting to use this knowledge to actually go in the woods, locate a big buck, build a stand and hunt that particular animal.
Locally over the years, I have scouted and hunted all over about a 5 county area. I have taken several nice bucks and learned a tremendous amount about the forest in my area. This story is about the first big buck that I really found and hunted. He was named The Blackwater Beast.
My father, Hershel Howell, had taken a large buck called The Peddler Field Phantom, a year or so earlier and we became obsessed with naming and taking a monster buck.
This is the only deer that I took that the name actually stuck.
I had become obsessed with scouting and figuring a place to hunt on the north side of Sardis Lake near Harmontown. This is where a lot of our family had come from and as kids we had spent a lot of time there hunting for arrowheads in the lake bottom. There were no deer there at that time. The deer herd grew and I found myself building a stand on a long narrow ridge over a red hot scrape surrounded by large rubs. Near the edge of this ridge was a stream named Blackwater Creek. The Blackwater Beast became real.
I was sixteen with a vivid imagination.
The stand was built and I eagerly waited to hunt there during Thanksgiving. I felt I needed at least three days to get the deer. I was correct.
The first two days I was surrounded by trucks flying up and down the roads, people talking and dogs running. I knew that no big buck in his right mind would go to the scrapes with that kind of racket going on.
The third day was cool, crisp and still. The dog hunters had moved on to a new area and the woods were silent. At 7 o’clock that morning I heard the big deer raking his horns on a branch below me. I got my rifle ready and soon the big 10-point came trotting up the trail. The big deer got in the scrape and stood on his back legs raking his horns and face along an overhanging branch. I started to shoot him in the center of the chest but figured no one would believe me. As soon as his feet hit the ground and he turned sideways I pulled the trigger. Dark horns, a mature big buck and the first 10-point anyone had ever taken in our family. I was on top of the world and it was very hard for my brothers to live with me that year.