Meet Mister B.O. Mock, 96-Year-Old Deer Hunter

Deer hunting keeps this Miller County man going strong.

Daryl Gay | March 2, 2023

Buren Mock is a lot of things. He is Miller County’s sole survivor from World War II, a member of the Greatest Generation, a grandfather to five and a 96-year-old deer hunter who already has his eyes set on a few bucks for this coming fall.

The gnarled finger sweeps across a vista to instantly quicken the heartbeat of any south Georgia deer hunter: chest-high planted pines bordered by a pond, a field and a hardwood head, requisite creek trickling through.

“There in those pines is where we got pictures of at least one really good 8-pointer, and the other one may be an 8 or a 10,” Buren Mock relates. Then his voice changes, crisp with determination.

“I didn’t get in there and work them out this season, but I plan to find at least one of them next time around.”

November 16th would be perfect; that’s B.O. Mock’s 97th birthday.

It’s always a tremendous honor to be able to meet a member of The Greatest Generation. There are so very, very few of them left. In fact, Mister B.O., as he’s known in the Colquitt area, is the sole surviving World War II veteran in Miller County. He was born and raised here, but he’s seen a large part of the world—including a few spots he’d rather have passed up. We’ll get to those.

But it’s the deer hunting—and the man—who drew me in as he reminisced through nearly a century of life in southwest Georgia and beyond. One statement was particularly fascinating: “I ‘spect I’ve killed over 200 deer in my life, but I remember when there were none at all. Deer hunters today take it all for granted, because it seems so easy. It wasn’t always that way.”

Born in 1926—he’s seen a few changes—Mock grew up hunting small game, especially quail and doves, like most other youngsters of his time. His uncle, Jim Tom Worsley, was a constant companion until he left early, and everything changed.

“When Uncle Jim Tom died, the urge to hunt in me kind of died with him,” Mock said. “We hunted birds all over Miller County and around, and back then it was different. Everybody knew everybody, things were close-knit; getting and giving permission to hunt and fish and helping each other out was all a given. The world was a different place than it is now.

“I got drafted into the Army in February of 1945 and sent to Fort Gordon. We were especially trained in rifle and hand-to-hand combat and told we were being prepared for the invasion of Japan.”

How’s that for a gut punch to an 18-year-old? (Just so you’ll know, Operation Downfall was the code name for the invasion, and included a prediction of 1.7 to 4 million U.S. casualties, including from 400,000 to 800,000 dead. Plus up to 10 million Japanese, who were prepared to fight to the death.)

“My next stop was San Francisco, and they told us we were being shipped first to the Philippines—but we were all too young to go overseas. So they sent us to Oregon! I guess you age pretty fast in Oregon, because two weeks later we were back in San Francisco and on a ship to the Philippines. There were 15 ships in our group, and the one I was on broke down five days out. One submarine stayed with us, and planes from the carriers in the group came back to check on us several times, but that ship broke down five different times before we got to Manila Bay. 

“None of us knew anything about the atomic bombs in the works, of course, but they saved us from the actual invasion. I spent 14 months and nine days mostly guarding the Army Air Force (at that time) bases before I had enough points to get out. The Army papers said 14 and eight, but it was 14 and nine.”

Some things you don’t forget. And make no mistake, even at 96 years of age, Mister B.O. is as sharp as an ice pick. And he well remembers getting back into hunting.

“I was almost 50 when I started deer hunting, hooking up with a small group of friends who had got into it. We  didn’t have a deer in Miller County, so we hunted up the road in Randolph County (Cuthbert), then went as far as South Carolina and North Carolina. There weren’t any other deer hunters around because we just didn’t have any deer. I remember when they finally stocked the first three or four here, and can take you to the place where they turned them loose. They’ve come a long way since then, and we’ve got some big deer around here now, but it’s not easy to get permission to hunt them.

“I can’t get around like I used to and mostly hunt out of a box stand now, but I reckon I’ve killed a deer about every way you can do it that was legal, and in a lot of different places.” 

One Miller County landowner has been gracious enough to take the permission problem out of the equation.

“Mister B.O. is a fine Christian man and as good an example as I’ve ever known,” says Steve Holt. “He was an avid deer hunter back when nobody else even deer hunted, a member of a small group who leased some land in Randolph County when folks didn’t understand why. He’s got a place here to hunt as long as he wants it. He can park real close where he’s hunting and his stand is as safe as it can be. But then it would be, because he built it!”

More on that later, but what about the deer? In my job I’m fortunate enough to see a deer head or two each year, and I’ve been hunting them about as long as Buren Mock. But in those years, I’ve seen few 8-pointers to match one he has on the wall. It has the tine length and symmetry that instantly let you know this was some stud. There are others, but not like this.

“He used to keep his antlers under a shelter on the farm, and it looked like a deer graveyard out there,” Holt chuckled. “There’s no telling how many there were.”

“That was a Randolph County deer,” Mister B.O. says of the big 8, then adds an understated “and he was a good one. I killed him on the same tract I took my biggest body-sized deer, a 265-lb. one that we weighed, so I know that’s accurate. The next week, right before Christmas, I killed another one almost as big.”

Now that’s an 8-pointer! B.O. killed the buck in Randolph County. On the same tract, he also killed a 265-lb. deer.

And he remembers them all. It’s amazing to listen as he weaves his way through a treasure trove of whitetail memories, and there’s no halting, no gaps where he can’t recall this buck or that one. Wish we could fit them all in, but there’s one outstanding episode that demonstrates how deeply deer hunting has become ingrained in the life of Buren Mock.

“I almost always hunted by myself, and that’s how I’ve been able to take as many big deer as I have over the years. I’ve hunted mostly in box stands when possible, but I’ve also sat up a tree on a limb or on the ground. But there was one stand and one time that I did something I had never done, and I knew better than to do it that time! I was in a ladder stand, getting down and stepped out on the first step—without taking my glove off to get a handhold. I ALWAYS took that glove off. But that glove slipped and I lost my balance and fell about 10 feet, landing flat on my back.”

You ain’t heard nothing yet.

“Eventually, I managed to get up, and I walked out. It took a while, but I did it. I had a phone and could have called somebody, but I was too hardheaded and mad at myself for letting it happen in the first place. I drove home, and met my wife at the mailbox. I told her I had to go to the hospital, but she said she had to take a bath and fix up before she went to town. She was that kind of woman, and that’s just the way it was back in those days!”

But pain had become a living thing, and Mock knew this was nothing to play around with.

“I said to myself that I had driven this far, so I can make it to the emergency room. I drove to Donalsonville (roughly 15 miles), but then I couldn’t get out of the truck! There was a fellow walking across the parking lot and I asked him to go in and get me some help. Well, a nurse came out and said they’d have to roll me across the street to the hospital in a wheelchair, but I figured I already had wheels so I drove myself on over there…”

Mock wound up being sent to a larger hospital in Dothan, Ala., and was told he had broken T1, T2 and T3—the first three of 12 vertebrae of the thoracic spinal column. Just for jollies, it happened to be the THIRD time he had broken them; the first came during a fall in a hog pen, the second when a riding lawnmower overturned on him. Just lucky, I guess.

“I started walking again right quick, but I really had to push myself,” he said. “There wasn’t going to be any giving up involved, so I got into physical therapy and after a month or two of really rough pain decided that maybe they missed something in there. I talked to the doctor about it, but he didn’t think so. He wasn’t hurting and I was, so I kept on until they sent me for an MRI.”

Which found that in addition to T1-3, there had also been breaks to L6, 7 and 12, lumbar vertebrae that are frequent sites of fractures on such occasions. So, basically, a 10-foot fall backward off a ladder stand resulted in Mister B.O.’s back being broken in six places. His take?

“At times I still have a terrible time with my back, but it doesn’t stop me from deer hunting. I just take a pain pill and go to it.”

Final thought to consider: when he fell off that stand, Buren Mock was 80 years old…

For obvious reasons, there are no more ladder stands in Mister B.O.’s future. He made his living as a carpenter and farmer and for years has built to suit himself, including the perfectly sized small house he lives in now—in the backyard of the one he drove to after that fall.

“My stands now are just like walking up the steps at home,” he says. “They have 12 or 13 steps that are easy to walk up, and they’re enclosed because I’ve got too old to take bad weather anymore. Steve Holt has been mighty good to me about having a place to hunt as long as I want it, and I built my stands over on his place.”

Sounds simple, because this is not a guy to make a big production out of anything. He’s from the old school of taking things as they come, then handling them. When discussing those stands, Holt can’t help but laugh.

“He said, ‘Steve, we’ll just build us some stands’ and he built me three and repaired another one I had in place. He liked to have worked me to death, and he sure wasn’t no spring chicken at the time. He kept a piece of wood in my hand all the time, telling me to hand him this or hold that…

“One year out of that stand he let two or three walk, and it really bothered him when he didn’t kill one that year. I told him at his age, I wouldn’t let nothing walk. I know he’s going to eat them, and nothing’s going to waste.”

Building your own stand to personal specs is one thing—but it’s not everybody who gets to hunt out of a century-old commissary!

A hundred years ago, turpentine was big business in south Georgia, and Miller County was no exception. Still standing on Holt’s property is a roughly 50 x 100-foot building, constructed in 1910 that housed a turpentine still and commissary for the hands that worked it. There would be all kinds of equipment and provisions available on-site for folks who couldn’t get to a nearby town without traveling by foot, horse or wagon. Not many hands who worked the pine trees and turpentine still drove Cadillacs. It finally closed down in the 1950s and may even have been used for educational purposes for a time after the nearby schoolhouse burned down in 1935. Now, it’s Mister B.O.’s personal deer stand!

“This season I only killed two deer, but they weren’t very big ones,” Mock said. “I was hunting out of the commissary, which is open but out of the weather. I started all those years ago with a .30-30, but I didn’t keep it long. I bought a Remington 742 automatic, .30-06, and that’s what I’ve killed almost all of my deer with. Over the years I’ve given guns to my five grandchildren, except the one I hunt and hang out with the most—my grandson Ashley. I told him he could have the 742, but he said to keep it until I didn’t need it anymore. So this rifle is his—but he ain’t got it yet!

“I just love deer hunting, that’s all there is to it. I know my family would rather I didn’t sometimes, but I tell them that if I die out there, then I’ll die doing what I love most to do. I don’t hunt on Sunday, because I go to church and don’t miss it if I’m able. I used to fish on Sunday for a time, but one time I was out there and it got to bearing on me that mama didn’t want me to fish or hunt on Sunday, and I never went another one.”

B.O. with a buck he killed as his grandson Ashley kneels in for the photo. Ashley will one day inherit B.O.’s Remington 742 automatic .30-06, which is the gun he’s killed almost all of his deer with. The other four grandchildren have already been given guns, but Ashley told his granddad to just keep on hunting with the 06 and he would collect it when he didn’t need it anymore.

Those lessons learned as a youngster obviously never go away, despite the years. And what would Buren Mock, at 96 years old, have to say to the youngsters of today?

“Just get out there and get after it. Find what you love to do, and work hard at it. I know I’ve said it before, but I love deer hunting. It gets in your blood. And it will keep you going.”

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  1. Broke on March 2, 2023 at 10:16 am

    Really enjoyed this story, would be great to have many more.
    Thanks Mr. Mock
    Thanks to GON

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