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Barham's misfire misfortune leads to big buck

By By Mike Giles/The Meridian Star
Dec. 28, 2001
Longtime outdoorsman Otha Barham has hunted deer for more than 50 years in places all around this great nation. Its a given that he knows what to do to harvest a nice buck. Sometimes however, even he is surprised by the outcome of his hunts. Some hunters are said to be good hunters, while others are just plain lucky. In Barham's case, it doesn't hurt to be both lucky and good.
After a stretch of mild weather had caused the bucks to almost disappear, Barham decided to try to collect some venison for the freezer. On a recent hunt Barham went to one of his favorite green fields. It wasn't long before a nice doe appeared and started feeding on the succulent winter grass.
As the afternoon progressed that doe started looking mighty fine for the supper table. At one point Barham tried to reach into his pocket for a piece of gum and the deer went on full alert, looking for the source of the noise. After the wise old doe settled down, Barham decided that a doe in hand was better than a buck in the woods.
Misfire
As the sun was slowly setting and night fast approaching, Barham silently pushed off the safety on his old Ruger Model 77 .280 rifle. Just as the crosshairs centered on the doe, Barham squeezed the trigger – only to hear a sharp metal ping. At the sound of the misfire, the deer bolted and ran about 30 yards before scouring the area for the unnatural sound. As Barham ejected the cartridge and bolted another one into the chamber, the startled deer departed the scene in a hurry.
Barham sat dumbfounded in his stand at the turn of events. Seconds before, he could almost taste the succulent venison that was to be table fare for his family. Now he was left with nothing but questions and a bad taste in his mouth. Not knowing exactly what had caused the misfire, he could only sit back and wait out the last 5 or 10 minutes of light before heading empty-handed back to camp.
Second chance
Still smarting from the misfire and loss of venison, Barham suddenly heard the distinctive sound of hoofs walking in the dry leaves. Seconds later another doe pranced out into the patch. He kept his eye on the doe. "Could she be in heat," he mused to himself.
Barham suddenly caught sight of another deer in the edge of the woods. As he brought up his Leopold scope he could see a nice rack on a fine buck. In fact it had a distinctive, tall white glow that indicated a mature legal buck. As the buck cleared the trees and entered the patch, Barham didn't waste any time with the shot. Aiming a little high on the shoulders, he pulled the trigger and the buck turned and went down in a heap. One well-placed shot had done the trick.
With only seconds of daylight left, the old monarch had made one last mistake while following the doe into the patch. He weighed 170 pounds and sported a tall 8-point rack that measures nearly 18 inches outside at the widest point, a true trophy for anyone in this area. Although it had been almost 39 years since he killed his first deer in Kemper County, another 8-point buck, the thrill has never left him or gotten old.
If not for a rare misfire of a cartridge in Barham's trusty rifle, he would have gone home with a doe, still wondering where the bucks were. Was it a mere coincidence, luck, or divine providence? Whatever it was, in the final analysis, Barham took full advantage of his second chance while collecting his best buck in years!

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