Mike Hessman is used to hitting home runs, but he didn’t know he’d knock one out of the park so soon after retiring as the greatest slugger in minor-league baseball history.
Hessman, who hit a record 433 homers in 19 seasons in the minors — he hit 14 more homers in 109 games in parts of five seasons in the majors — killed a trophy buck on Nov. 1 that’s as impressive as any grand slam he clubbed off any hanging curveball.
Hessman, who hung up his cleats after the 2015 season, was hunting on a farm outside his hometown of Loris, S.C., when he killed a big 11-point buck he had on a trail camera from last season.
“I had a couple of pictures of him late last year — he was a big 8-pointer — but I never saw him,” said Hessman. “Then, we got a couple of him last week, but only two were during daylight.
“I didn’t think I’d kill him in a stand unless it was a climber,” he said.
So Hessman headed into an area that had good deer trails coming out of a thick area marked by bay bushes. He got up in the climber early last Tuesday morning, and until 9 a.m., it was a fruitless hunt.
“Then, he came out from behind me,” Hessman said. “If I’d let him keep going, he’d have slipped through 60 or 70 yards away.”
Recognizing that it was the buck he was waiting for, Hessman turned in his stand and dropped him with one shot from his .30-06.
“It was the only deer I saw all morning, but boy, he’d grown up pretty good since last year,” said Hessman, whose buck had a tall, wide 5x5 main-frame rack with a single sticker point on the first tine on its right antler.