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December 15: Doug Hampton

"When you're hot, you're hot!"..... The song was blasting on the radio while we were on our way home from Kansas. We had a huge 163" buck that my wife had just harvested in the back of the truck. It was December 4th. We had only hunted for a grand total of 2 whole hours on our family member hunt for Dream Season "The Journey." Team Reconyx had harvested 3 bucks in the past 11 days and the reality of it was starting to hit home. God was blessing us no doubt, but how were we supposed to know that it was about to get even better?

Rod and I had won a team hunt to Tara Wildlife in Mississippi. The rut was in full swing. When the manager/guide Bobby Culbertson greeted us at the office on the property, he said with great confidence, "You guys are in for a treat! We've killed over 30 bucks in the last 2 weeks and it's getting better by the day!" Had I not been a client multiple times in the past 15 years, I might have thought that it was just guide talk. However, I've seen what Tara has to offer, and it has been extremely good in the past. We were excited to say the least!

Rod was up to bat first. After a few close calls that ended up empty handed, it was my turn to see if we could keep the team's hot-streak alive. Thursday morning, the temperatures were in the 6o's for lows. We were banking on the rut to be the key for seeing a shooter, because the weather was not cooperating to say the least. By 8:30, our 4th shooter of the morning was heading in our direction. Four does were bedded in a tree top 30 yards to our left. The body of this buck along with the wide rack was enough to let me know that he was definitely a mature buck. At 50 yards he caught the wind of the doe. He did an about face, then rushed the tree top which scattered the resting ladies. His neck stretched out and he began his pursuit. Within seconds, I was nearly yelling at him trying stop him in my shooting lane! At last he stopped and lip curled just as I released the arrow from my P.S.E. Evo. The Rage broadhead struck the buck forward, but ultimately ended up lodged in the old buck's cavity. The 20" wide deer never made it out of sight... About 5 seconds after the shot was taken, the buck was down for good! The blood trail was amazing though not necessary for tracking. I could've thrown a rock the distance that the buck had run. It was time to celebrate!

Bobby came to help us get the buck out. He then took a few minutes to explain the set-up for the climbing stand situation where we had killed the buck. We loaded the buck up to take him to the lodge. The biologist arrived shortly after doing our hero interviews and pics. After the buck was taken care of and the jawbone was removed, we were pleasantly surprised when the biologist aged the buck at 6 & 1/2 years old. We thought we had killed a 4 year old at best. When we found out his actual age, the trophy became even sweeter!

Rod and I would like to thank Mike Jones and The Mississippi Department of Tourism for providing us with this unbelievable experience of a lifetime. We also have to give all the credit in the world to Tara Wildlife, Bobby Culbertson, and his team of experienced guides. I believe everyone that hunted in our group left with a rack in their truck. We saw so many shooters that it was nearly unbelievable. We can't wait to return in late January to meet the rest of the Dream Season cast. If the hunting is half as good then as it has been this week, expect the journal to be lit up with nice bucks during the final group hunt.

Can our hot streak continue?... We'll know shortly! I'm headed back to my home state of Arkansas to get back after a giant buck named "Popeye." I've dedicated nearly the entire firearms season to harvesting this buck. With a successful shortened hunt and daylight pictures over the past few weeks, I think he's gonna be killable. Stay tuned to the journal to see if Popeye's journey will end this season...

Thank you Lord for all you've given us. We are nothing without you!