Antlers go every which way on Clays’ odd rack

Story by Bobby Cleveland
The Clarion-Ledger
November 21, 2011
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JACKSON, Miss. — When he first saw the antlers, taxidermist Ellis Soloman called it “a pineapple rack.”

And Mark Clay says trying to measure the buck his son Will Clay, 14, killed on the opening morning of the youth gun season Nov. 5 “is like trying to score a briar thicket.”

The 15-point fits all those descriptions, and more. It has antlers sprouting in seemingly every direction.

Its left main beam, where most of the atypical growth is located, is difficult to discern.

It has not been scored, but, nonetheless, it is a trophy, and a story worth sharing.

Using hay bales for a make-shift blind in the middle of a five-acre pasture on family land in Madison County, father and son were hoping to see the big buck Mark Clay had spotted during scouting.

“I never got a great view until a few days later ... four bucks, a nice 6-point, a really nice 8-plus ... and, the man,” Mark Clay said. “He had horns that went everywhere, like a briar thicket on his head.

“I go home and tell my wife Dixie and son Will about it, and this is what she says: ‘You really need to go get your glasses checked.’ “

That one look at the big one was all he would get, but it was enough to bring him and Will to the field on opening morning of the youth season. They hid in the bales, with dad watching south and son watching north.

“At 7:30, I was just looking around the field when I saw some horns sticking out from behind a little group of trees,” Will Clay said. “I quickly got dad awake, though he claims he wasn’t sleeping, and looked back to see this nice, young 8-point eating some of the new rye grass.”

Realizing the 8 qualified as a shooter, he looked away to find his range finder.

“I looked through the range finder to the shock of my life,” he said. “Standing not 10 feet from the 8-point is a monster buck that I have never seen. This deer was so weird looking I had to stare for a minute before I was sure he was there.”

The bucks were 100 yards away. Dad was now looking.

“I looked through the binoculars and see the 8, and told Will, ‘He’s a nice 8, you can take him,”’ Mark Clay said. “He said, ‘No dad, the big one to the right.’

“As soon as I looked at him he looked at me so I froze and thought to myself, my son is about to shoot my deer.”

Since that was the intent, he quickly told Will to get his gun ready. The commotion had not gone unnoticed. Both bucks were now looking.

“All I could think was, ‘Oh ... they are gonna spook,”’ Will Clay said. “Thankfully, a plane passed by just close enough to draw their attention away from our blind, and I quickly brought up my rifle and sighted in right on his front shoulder.

“Just when I thought he was going to step into a good shot, the 8-point ran back into the woods, and he was turning to follow suit. Before I knew what I was doing, much less warning dad, I lined up behind the front shoulder and squeezed the trigger. To my and dad’s surprise he stumbled about 2 yards and dropped.”

Said dad: “I thought Will was going to jump out of his skin. He had the biggest grin on his face mirrored by mine. I was amazed at how he calmly threw up and squeezed off a shot all in the blink of an eye. The look on his face was worth giving up my trophy buck. I was pretty proud too!”

The guys loaded the buck in the truck, took a few photos and then had one more thing to do: Get Dad some vindication.

“We went home to show Dixie and so I could show her that I did not need new glasses,” Mark Clay said.

Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com

Bobby Cleveland

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