Just a few miles south of Tchula, MS on a county road known as old Highway 49 sits a brick building built in the 1920’s. A faded sign across the entrance reads The Thunderhoof Museum and for one dollar you can go in and look at the strange collection that the old man that runs the place has collected over a lifetime.
The building is rundown and falling apart now and you would not know that it was a great roadside attraction in the 1950's. The giant statues and advertising outside are all gone since the highway changed and all that remains is the old building and the stange old man that runs the place.
Most people think it is all fake, even though everyone in these parts has heard of the gigantic deer known as Thunderhoof. There are few visitors but the old man doesn’t seem to care and if you get him talking about the artifacts there you will be in for a strange and very interesting treat.
Inside the building arranged on shelves are 17 pairs of shed antlers purported to have been collected from the region that belonged to the great buck. The oldest antlers are labeled 1857 and range up to the newest date of 1964. The antlers are gigantic, covered with dust and it would be hard for two people to pick up just one of the magnificent horns.
Around the room are paintings of the deer. Most are on canvas but several are done on treebark supposedly from the early Indians of the area. There are all kinds of carvings, fossilized hoof prints, and parts of trees (logs) where the buck had sharpened his horns. Strings of his shed velvet are covered in glass.
You can take all this in with a smile if you wish, but then you get to other things that make you think.
Hand-written journals from early settlers that saw him, tapes and written stories of hunters that have encountered him, old tales from the Indians that worshipped him, affidavits from locals that had the deer visit their farms, and a few faded photographs of people that actually caught a glimpse long enough to snap a picture. Around the room are many stone and clay sculptures of the deer including the centerpiece of the room that is a full sized replica.
The oddest thing here are some of the antlers that local people found and carved uses for over the years. A very cool set of bagpipes, Several plows, knives , swords, a couple of rocking chairs, hat and gun racks, a baseball bat, lamps, a gunstock on an old musket, and even a horse drawn sleigh from 1897.
If you are in this area, suspend your disbelief and visit this old roadside attraction. You will be glad you did.