Dusty McGehee: The Story of Mr. Big Guy

 

The story of Mr. Big Guy (MBG) begins back in the fall of 2018.  It was the first year Anders began hunting so I took him to the camp in Mississippi to get his first deer.  We checked the trail camera at our feeder and there was a big bodied, 4-year-old buck, with a decent 9-point rack.  Anders immediately fell in love and named him Mr. Big Guy.

We hunted him throughout the 2018 season but never saw him, other than on the cameras.  I had high hopes that he would blow up in a giant buck at age 5 in 2019, but when I pulled the first SD card, I was a little disappointed.  He had grown in body size, but his rack hadn’t grown an inch (he was approximately 125 inches).  Oh well, he was still a big deer and was #1 on Ander’ hit list.  Once again, the deer season came and went with no sight of MBG; he made it through another season unscathed.

2020 was a crazy year for all of us.  We were working alternating weeks on site at the mill and then “from home” the next week.  This gave me some extra time to prepare for our hunting trips, but I was not prepared for what was about to show up on my cameras.  MBG had blown up into a massive buck and had gained 30 inches of antlers, at the ripe age of 6.  This buck became our sole obsession.  We were going to do anything and everything to get this deer on the ground.  This was Anders’ buck.

The area MBG was frequenting was a stand we call Pandora.  It’s on a hardwood ridge where a couple of draws funnel in front of the stand behind my neighbor’s pond dam.  It’s the perfect pinch point and is arguably the best stand in Yazoo County.  Every buck Anders has killed, has been out of that stand and I’ve lost count in his 4 short years of hunting. 

We ate, slept and breathed MBG in 2020.  With my strange work schedule, I was driving over in the middle of the week to put out feed for him and his girlfriends.  On either Wednesday or Thursday, every single week, I drove over and put out feed and drove right back.  I started to add up the money I spent on him including feed and gas but quickly quit counting. It’s more than I care to admit.  Sounds crazy yet my fellow hunters will understand; this was the largest buck I’d ever had on the property and I was not sparing any expense.

He taunted us all year.  I had plenty of daylight photos of him, but it was always during the week while Anders was at school.  I could’ve killed him half a dozen time if I had been over there while I was “working from home” but there was no way I was shooting “Anders’ buck”.  My neighbors (of whom I’m friends with) were also getting him on their cameras and they were after him just as hard as we were.  To say we were obsessed would be an understatement.  I checked Anders out of school early every Friday, so much that my wife was getting a little perturbed.  The truancy board should have probably been called.  I didn’t care, this was serious business.

Finally, on a cold January morning, we see 5 does coming straight to Pandora.  Coming up the ridge I spot massive antlers and immediately know its MBG.  I jump into Anders’ seat and have him get in my lap.  The adjustable chair collapses and now I tell Anders he is on his own.  The buck is staring right at us and he can’t get a clear shot.  The wind is blowing straight to him; he eventually gets nervous and trots behind us.  Anders is panicked and says “Dad you have to do something!”  I grab my grunt call and send out three of the loudest grunts I’ve ever made.  Within seconds MBG comes trotting right back at us.  I stop him and tell Anders he needs to shoot because the buck was still nervous.  He shoots and the buck trots down the ridge and I knew it didn’t look good.  We examined the shot site and looked for an hour and I dreaded breaking the news to him.  I hugged him and told him it was a clean miss.  He walked off and sat on a log and faced away from me.

The disappointment was overwhelming.  I knew he was sitting there with tears rolling down and frankly I might have had a few fall, too.  I gave him a minute, went over there to console him and let him know it would be alright.  Three years of hunting him every spare second we had; this was not the outcome had imagined.  MBG avoided Pandora like the plague for 11 days, but he finally showed back up and I knew he made it through the season again.

2021 season rolls around and we were once again “all in” on MBG.  He showed back up in late November and he had shrunk about 10 inches but was still a massive 8-pointer.  It was a replay of 2020; he was showing up in broad daylight during the week when we weren’t there.  We hunted him SO hard.  Literally every moment was hunting him or thinking about him.

I checked my cameras last week and there were no pictures of him since Christmas day (in daylight of course) and I knew something happened.  I texted my neighbor this news and told him I was worried.  He checked with surrounding landowners and my suspicions were confirmed.  The neighbor right across the creek from me had killed him.  The story of Mr. Big Guy was over.

I didn’t know whether to cry or to puke.  I couldn’t focus on anything at work that day and I was dreading breaking the news to Anders.  As I pull up to the house, he is playing in the front yard and I just can’t hold it in any longer.  I stop my truck and call him over and tell him.  He hit the ground like a ton of bricks filled with emotion.  It was the exact reaction I had and what I expected from him.

The 4-year journey is now over.  This wasn’t the ending we had been dreaming of.  I just knew it would end with an incredible LPJ story and glory pics with his little hands holding up those massive antlers.  Sadly, that’s the reality of hunting.  I’ve never had the opportunity to hunt a specific deer for four years and may never again.

It was a fun ride.  Lots of blood, sweat, and way too many tears.  There will never be another Mr. Big Guy, but hopefully he had some sons we can hunt in the upcoming seasons.  RIP MBG.

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Dusty McGehee is a native of Downsville and a 2006 graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a bachelors in wildlife conservation. He is currently employed by WestRock and serves as an environmental engineer at the Hodge Mill. Dusty is an avid hunter and crappie fisherman, fishing crappie tournaments with his son when he is not in the woods. He and his wife Rachel have three young outdoorsmen/women: Anders (9), Ridge (7) and Mae (5). If you have a story idea or question about the great outdoors, you can reach Dusty at dusty.mcgehee@westrock.com.


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