‘Bawling like a child.’ Deer hunter felt late mom’s presence

Published 12:01 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2019

When a Florence hunter harvested a trophy buck last month, he broke down and cried.

It wasn’t because the buck scored 147 inches. It was because he felt his late mother’s presence.

“There had been a deer that has eluded the neighboring club since last year and he is a very big deer for Simpson County,” Justin Brown said. “They had many pictures of him and some were daylight pictures, but they couldn’t catch him off guard. Well, the deer began to venture onto our 4,000-acre club, and I knew a few members probably had him on camera but were tight-lipped about it.”

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Brown was getting photos of the big buck from a wireless camera that sent them to his phone. On Jan. 15, he realized he was getting closer to the deer.

“The day earlier I was hunting another stand and I got a picture of him at a shooting house,” Brown said. “I was just at the wrong stand that day.”

The deer had been at Brown’s camp at least four days, and he knew where the buck was frequenting through the photos. The problem was all of the images were taken at night. It was as if the buck wasn’t moving during legal shooting hours. On the night of Jan. 15 and into the next morning, the buck was particularly active.

“My wife thought I was crazy,” Brown said. “The night before I killed him I was up all night. He was on my phone every other hour. I knew I may have a shot at him since he was spending that much time in that area, so I went for it.”

That afternoon he hunted in the shooting house near where he was getting photos of the buck, but this time Brown did something he normally doesn’t.

“I signed out for my stand, but before I left my truck I said a prayer,” Brown said. “I just had a moment and started babbling. I asked the Lord to let me speak to my mom a minute and I told her, ‘Mom, you know how much I love hunting and this deer is probably the biggest I would take if I got the chance, so if you can hear me and it’s God’s will, please send the deer to me today.'”

His mother, Faye Brown of Brandon, passed away two years ago due to a heart condition. Brown said she was always supportive of him and her death at 72 years old was too soon.
“Me and my mom were extremely close,” Brown said. “She always supported me.

“She was a real faith-based person. That’s the one person I can say she never did anything wrong until the day she died. It’s been tough, especially around the holidays. She was the best cook we know.”

Brown settled into his shooting house and began to wait, but not a single deer showed up.

“I’d seen a flock of turkeys, but that was it,” Brown said. “I’ve got five longbeards that come in there every afternoon. It was basically a waiting game.”

But time was running out. It was the final day of Brown’s two-week vacation and legal shooting time was nearing the end. Brown turned to his mother once again.

“Well, it was nearing dark and I was sure he was just nocturnal and wasn’t (going to) show, and one more time I said, ‘Mom, if you can hear me, I am asking you to please send that deer out.'”

It seemed she heard him.

“Almost on cue I heard a deer walking in the woods and he stepped out at 75 yards and stood like a statue looking through me as I was sitting in the shoot house,” Brown said. “It was as if my mom was telling me, ‘There he is.’ I know time goes into slow motion, but the deer never took his eyes off me and never moved a muscle as I eased the window open and got my rifle out the window and took the shot.”
The deer dropped on the spot.

“I have killed a bunch of big deer and have a trophy room full of mounts, but I have never shed a tear over a deer ’til that day,” Brown said. “Yes, he is a mid-140s deer and a monster for Simpson County, but I swear I could feel my mom’s presence as I went to him and I just lost it as I was on the phone telling the story to my wife.

“I was bawling like a child. I’ve never done that. No deer will ever mean to me what that deer means to me.”