Once in a lifetime trophies
By By Otha Barham / outdoors editor
April 2, 2004
A few days ago, Kindell Pope and his son Tyler were turkey hunting in Neshoba County. In the afternoon they encountered some field turkeys. Late in the day the two hunters flanked the group of birds as they moved towards the woods, obviously seeking out a roosting place.
The idea was to roost the birds and return the next morning where they could set up close enough to bag a gobbler from the flock. They set up on the route the retreating turkeys were taking. Kindell made one series of calls and the birds headed their way.
Soon the whole bunch, both gobblers and hens, came within range. Father and son fired as one and two toms dropped. When they retrieved their birds, the men discovered that each of the gobblers had three beards. Birds with the same parents, perhaps? Seems likely, considering the influence of genetics.
The hunters brought their kills to Chuck Luke's Redneck Taxidermy in Meridian for entry into the Meridian Star 2004 Big Boss Gobbler Contest. One bird weighed 18 pounds and the other almost that much. But their multiple beards ran up the scores in that category.
Tyler, 17, and a junior at Neshoba Central, has hunted with his father since early childhood. He bagged his first turkey at about nine years of age. The two use Primos diaphragms, slates and a push button caller.
Kindell began hunting with his grandfather, Leon Holley. Holley used an old box type friction caller.
Today, Kindell and Tyler enjoy fishing and deer hunting together as well as spring gobbler hunting. Their dream is to make an elk hunt to the western mountains.
Last November Chancy Branning went hunting for giant whitetails in Canada near the little Saskatchewan town of Mistatim. This was the second hunting trip there for Branning as a guest of his father-in-law Olen Burrage Jr. Brother-in-law Lee Myers had accompanied them in 2002, but he skipped this hunt which he now regrets.
It was snowing on the second day of the hunt, Tuesday, Nov. 25th, following an opening day of extremely high winds which had made hunting miserable in temperatures 26 or 27 degrees below zero Celsius. It had warmed up to 11 below zero on Tuesday.
Branning, formerly of Philadelphia and who now lives in Brandon, had seen deer activity both days. The bucks that came by chasing does were not shooters. It was the peak of the whitetail rut and Chancy was looking for a trophy buck. It was noon when he saw a doe coming near his tree blind. He looked down to secure his binoculars in his pack and when he raised his head he saw a monstrous buck right in front of him. The buck was following the doe and had his nose to the ground.
Meanwhile, the doe had spotted Branning. A tense moment passed until the buck turned broadside. Branning fired his Thompson Center Encore .300 magnum rifle and the buck jumped into the brush.
The huge deer had massive antlers that score 203 and six eighths Boone and Crockett, and 209 gross. Redneck Taxidermy in Meridian mounted the fine buck for the successful hunter. It was the largest buck taken to date on hunts with his outfitter, although a deer that scores 202 was bagged the same year.
Branning has a knack for bagging trophy bucks. The year before, he took a big 10-pointer with the same Canadian outfitter. He shot that buck at noon too and also on a Tuesday. In 1996, one of his bucks was in the top 15 winners of a Meridian contest sponsored by Budweiser.
A small heater kept him comfortable all morning in the tree stand with treacherous spike steps. But it is not the cold or the heavy snow that Chancy Branning will remember for the rest of his life.