Have you ever encountered a unique buck that got into your head and it became all you could think about? Well, Stan Ethredge, of Carthage, Mississippi, encountered just such a buck, but it didn’t start out that way. Ethredge first spotted the nice 6-point buck on his game camera in Neshoba County about four years ago. It would’ve been a shooter for most bowhunters, but Ethredge is not most bowhunters. He let him walk that first season even though he could have taken him.
“The buck was a big 6-pointer the second year I captured him on camera, so I thought that’s all he would ever be,” Ethredge said. “I was going to shoot him with my bow if the opportunity presented itself, but I never got to see him during daylight hours.”
Ethredge continued to get pictures of the buck on game cameras throughout the year and then something unusual transpired.
“That summer he started breaking out all over with abnormal points along with a couple of drop tines and by October he had stickers coming out too,” Ethredge said. “I hunted him during bow season last year but never got a shot.”
After that the buck went nocturnal and the game camera pictures revealed something unusual. The buck never shed its velvet. As the deer continued working the property, Ethredge noticed that the buck’s velvet got thin during the late winter, but he never lost it. This year it came back really thick and the rack grew larger and much thicker.
“When the bow season opened this fall, I was in my stand opening day and the velvet buck suddenly appeared and came right into bow range, but it never gave me a clear shot,” Ethredge said. “I never saw it again before I went on vacation to Gatlinburg. Then a friend of mine saw it about a mile behind my property while he was bowhunting; but he didn’t get a shot.”
Needless to say, that lit a fire under Ethredge and he couldn’t wait to get back home and get to the woods.
“When I got back home, I checked my game camera as soon as I could, and he’d been in my patch several times in the daylight hours during the week,” Ethredge said. “I couldn’t wait to get back out there.”
Ethredge was chomping at the bit and went home and showered in Scent-a-Way soap, got dressed in camo and sprayed himself in Dead Down Wind scent killer. Then he clipped a pine-scented wafer on his backpack.
“I got into the elevated stand as soon as I could and this time I had my Wicked Ridge crossbow,” Ethredge said. “I’d been trying to get a clear shot at the buck for a couple years, but I was afraid time was running out because several of my neighbors had seen him and were hunting him too.”
No man knows when destiny whispers, but Ethredge was soon to find out.
“I’d only been in the stand a short time when I spotted movement in the woods,” Ethredge said. “A doe walked out, and the Velvet Buck followed right on its heels.”
Tension filled the air and adrenalin pulsed through Ethredge’s veins as he centered the crosshairs on the buck.
“As soon as I got the got the crosshairs on it, I let the arrow fly,” Ethredge said.
Thwack! The arrow slammed into the buck’s vitals and spun it around. Then, the buck tore out of there like it was shot from a cannon.
“It ran about 75 yards, but left a blood trail that was easy to follow,” Ethredge said. “The first thing I did was thank God and then I called my dad and my wife. And I’m still on cloud nine today.”
The buck of Ethredge’s lifetime had 36 scorable points and weighed in at 190 pounds. It was the fulfillment of a quest that began four years ago and ended with the velvet buck and a lifetime memory.