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Jason Leddon places #10 with Walton County buck

On Feb. 2, 2015, I got off work late and knew I didn't have time to sit in my stand. The rut had been hit-and-miss due to the weather, so I went to a 40-acre cut over cotton field where I had seen deer traveling a fence line.

About 10 minutes later, I looked across the field and saw a deer step out from the edge and look around approximately 200 yards away. All I could see was horns! Unfortunately, there was a terrace between me and the deer, so I could not use my shooting sticks.

I took a free-handed shot, but the buck simply looked around. I took a second shot, and he just continued to look around! By this time I was shaking so bad I realized buck fever had set in. I took a second to tell myself, “If you don’t calm down, you are going to miss this monster.”

After taking a couple of deep breaths, I squeezed off a third round. I saw him kick his back legs out and realized I had finally hit him, as he spun around and disappeared into the woods. I called a friend and told him, “I've killed the monster!”

I went to where I shot him and located what I thought was lung blood, following it to the wood line where it ended. I began to question the shot, so I backed out to give him time to expire. I returned an hour later and followed the blood about 15-20 yards to where he piled up. It was the buck every hunter dreams of! After about 10 minutes of screaming in excitement, we took a photo.

It's one thing to kill a 130-class deer, but just three days later I killed a 120-class buck in the same area! I remember my late father, Jim Leddon, taking me hunting as a young boy. He would joke he had a bottle in one pocket and diaper in the other.

We hunted with dogs until the mid-90’s on First American Farms, located just north of Freeport, Florida. I killed my first buck hunting with him at age 9 – the same weekend he moved me up to a 12-gauge automatic. He put me on a stand, and when the deer came by, I fired all 5 shots.

When he pulled up, he was laughing so hard, I asked “What is so funny?” He replied, “The gun was picking you up a foot and setting you back three feet!” Dad taught me you eat what you kill. While most people ate beef hamburgers, we were eating deer burgers. Times were hard.

Dad was a commercial fisherman and Mom worked at a local bank. I believe it was 1992 when Dad killed a 14-point buck on First American Farms, then he quit hunting like he used to. When I asked him why, he laughed and said, “That is the biggest deer I will ever kill in my lifetime.” He was right! He passed away in February 2008.

I have two daughters, Johanna and Bristol. I plan to share my love of hunting with them, just as my dad did with me. Hopefully, one day, they will have memories of hunting with me, just as I do with my dad.