As many of you know there are many keys to hunting success. A few key ingredients are patience and perseverance. Hunting smart is another, to prevent even the tiniest mistakes that can ruin an otherwise well-laid plan. Nothing helps you consider critical details like HuntStand, and Mississippi’s Jonathan May would certainly agree. May, 38, had just about given up on his goal of bagging a trophy buck, when he drew a coveted 2022 public-land tag, and leaned on HuntStand to show the way. The result? A well-earned first buck. Here’s how it all went down.
“My hunt experience actually started in August 2022. I was drawn for my very first hunt in our Mississippi Public Land Draw Hunt Program,” May wrote. “Some brief backstory: Before October 7, 2022, I had been hunting my whole life and never killed a buck. I turned 38 last June, and was beginning to lose hope. Mile after mile, tree after tree, missed opportunity after missed opportunity, I could go on and on.
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“About 5-6 years ago I came across HuntStand. I was looking for an app to show property boundaries and landowners. Five years later I am fully invested in HuntStand. That includes every path I walk, every trail camera I have out, every stand I set, and every bit of information I could save into HuntStand. I especially like the HuntZone wind forecast feature. It’s so easy to just click where you want to go, and it shows exactly where your safe spots and danger areas are.
“HuntStand came through in every way on this draw hunt trip. I knew the wind direction for the whole day, showing exactly where to set up. I measured distances so I knew what to expect on the trip in, and out. HuntStand also provided a perfect set of maps to show me every aspect of the area I was allowed to hunt. I arrived on October 5th and started walking to every promising spot I had found on the map. With the distance, access, and wind all showing exactly what I needed, I was able to get set up and spend the next three days in the spot I chose. There was buck sign literally everywhere.
Promising First Day
“On the morning of Day One, I awoke to my cell camera’s photos. Pictured was the biggest buck I’d ever captured on my trail camera. Since it was a new place, I decided to wait till daylight to walk in. A mistake to say the least. Another big buck walked right under my tree at 6:42 a.m., just after legal light. I hiked in and sat all day until 4:30 p.m., when I looked down a steep hill and saw a buck headed my way. Long story short, the buck busted me in my tree saddle.
“The morning of October 7, I was in my saddle about an hour before legal light. At 8 a.m., I had a doe come in, but nothing else that morning. That afternoon would be my last hunt for this trip, and at 2 p.m., I checked HuntStand to make sure the wind was still good for my setup and it was. I was back in my saddle by 2:30 p.m. Sunset was 6:35 p.m., which here in MS gave me until 7:05 p.m. to shoot. At 6:50 p.m., I began packing up, thinking my hunt was over. At 6:55 p.m. I heard a ‘CRACK!’ and my legs started shaking. I turned slowly around to see—antlers!
It All Comes Together
“To get the shot I had to turn all the way around in my saddle; my tether was over my chest. I had barely enough light to make out my shot, then said a prayer and pulled the trigger of my Bear crossbow. Then nothing but noise and a red glowing nock sticking in the dark woods floor!
“I had done it! The monkey was finally off my back! But then, we couldn’t find him. We searched for hours. The blood trail had seemingly dried up. It took a full 24 hours to locate someone with a dog, to help with the recovery. The dogs took us all over the place. Finally, we brought the dogs back to the shot site, and let them work once again. We steered them away from the path we had already traced using HuntStand. Thankfully, on this attempt they went straight to the downed buck. Turns out, he ran only 125 yards, then rolled down a hill into a pile of old brush and palmetto bushes.
“The rough score at camp was 133 6/8 inches. My first buck. I also have the story of a lifetime, on a trip of a lifetime, and memories that will last forever. What did I learn? Never give up—even when you think you have given it your all, give it a little more. Sit until you can’t see a thing. It only takes one crack of a stick, and a whole hunt can change in an instant!”