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Friday, January 27th, 2023

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‘Most famous GPS deer’ in North America sheds collar

Buck No. 140 is shown in an undated photo. The deer, which had been collared with a GPS transmitter by a research team in Mississippi, became famous for his travels. (Photo courtesy of Mississippi State University)

The Clarion Ledger

Madison, Miss. — He’s been tracked for two years. Buck No. 140 was a part of a deer study and was outfitted with a GPS collar that allowed Mississippi State University researchers to monitor his movements. During that time, he crossed the Mississippi River four times while moving between his summer home in Louisiana to his winter range in Mississippi’s South Delta.

The buck’s collar stopped transmitting earlier this fall, but since then he left another clue as to his whereabouts that was found Nov. 26.

“I was on Phil Bryant (Wildlife Management Area) 10 Point Unit,” said Michael Langdon of Madison. “In fact, if you look at the old posts about where the deer was captured, I was hunting right there. It was Saturday and it was raining and I found an old wooden shooting house and I got under it to get out of the rain. The rain let up and I decided to get up and move a little bit.”

When Langdon stood up he saw something that was orange laying on the ground about 20 yards away and initially thought it was trash. When he went to pick it up, he discovered it was something else. Langdon said he put the collar in his pack and forgot about it until he got home. That’s when the number 140 that was written on it jarred his memory.

“I was aware of the deer because I’d followed the story through the years,” Langdon said. “I realized the significance of it when I pulled it out. I knew I’d really found something then. I was excited.”

The media has published numerous articles about Buck No. 140’s travels that were read by hundreds of thousands of people. Langdon is one of them and he contacted this writer about returning the collar. The MSU Deer Lab was notified and Langdon was contacted by Luke Resop, an MSU graduate research assistant at the MSU Deer Lab.

“He referred to that deer as the most famous GPS-collared whitetailed deer in North America,” Langdon said. “I would have to agree because everyone I’ve talked to knows the story very well. It’s absolutely fascinating. That collar and that deer has been across the Mississippi River four times that we know of. His ability to make that far of a journey to the exact same spot blows my mind. It almost seems impossible.”

Buck No. 140’s collar stopped transmitting prematurely in August, but released and fell off as it was programmed to do. It was found 200-300 yards from where Resop captured the buck and outfitted him with ear tags and the collar.

“It was right in the middle of where he spends all of his time in the fall,” Resop said. Resop said he felt the collar would be found, but because of people’s fascination of Buck No. 140, he thought the finder would keep it as a trophy.

“I thought the odds of finding it were pretty good,” Resop said. “Someone having the decency of returning it is another story.”

Langdon said he considered the collar a trophy, too.

“I’d love to keep it, but I also understand they need it back,” Langdon said.

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