Pearl resident and Vicksburg native Jasper Buford has spent most of 79 years in woods, hunting deer and hunting raccoons commercially.
He fished area waters and killed plenty of deer to feed his family and giving the rest to needy families. He knows every nook and cranny in the woods and swamps surrounding Eagle Lake, the Big Black and Yazoo Rivers.
He's hunted to feed his family when he was young. He's slept on the banks of the Mississippi River with a blanket, a tarpaulin and a fire for warmth and woken up to ice in the switch willows to hunt at first light. He and his fellow hunters converted 55-gallon oil drums into tree stands at the Tara Hunting Camp near Eagle Lake.
But one thing has bothered him. An now he's come up with a solution - a substance called Gotcha - that he claims is better at any on the market at attracting deer and raccoons.
"It always bothered me that there are so many hunters who go out in the woods and not see one deer," Buford said, "I've killed my quota. If I don't kill another deer for the rest of my life, I'm happy. I just want to help the hunter. I've sat on a deer stand from daylight until 11:30 and you're talking about cold. I'll put this up against anything on the market. Anything that's out there. You don't have to stay out there in that freezing weather. You put this up, put a trail camera on it. You pick the time. Your time."
Buford, better known to his friends as "Ram," went to Culkin Academy, where he played football and had a chance to go to Ole Miss to play in college. But he felt he'd get a better experience enlisting in the U. S. Air Force during the Korean War.
"I got an urge to see the world," Buford said. "It would be places I could go, people I could meet. I could learn about their lifestyles. I'd been a little boy at home and it was about time for me to spread my wings. I asked to go to Germany, because I always wanted to see Europe, but they sent me to the Philippines."
After he got out in 1955 and returned to Mississippi, he got back into the outdoors, trapping raccoons commercially and hunting deer.
Speaking of deer, he's tried every way to attract them
He used corn, which requires careful adherence to Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Parks rules, with unsatisfactory results considering the expense and work involved. He's tried fake scrapes and other products.
None satisfied. Buford thought he could to better.
He went to work to find a substance to attract deer and raccoons for hunters. He spent long hours experimenting, combining ingredients and taking detailed notes, using the scientific method to find the best mix of ingredients. He did test after test, using motion-sensor activated game cameras to record the results.
But after long hours of work, Buford finally developed Gotcha, a paste-like substance that come in a peanut butter-sized jar. Buford claims the product, which uses nothing but ingredients easily obtainable in a store, works like no other.
"It's like lighting a fuse on a rocket," Buford said. "I think hunters will use it because it works. They won't be going in the woods without it. If a hunter can get it to bring a deer in close enough for him to kill, that's great. If a young person uses it to take a deer, that's even better, because a child will never forget that first deer they kill. A deer is inquisitive by nature. Curiosity will kill them.
In one of his tests, Buford applied Gotcha to a tree and his game camera snapped a picture of three raccoons licking up the product. He also got a picture of a raccoon and a opossum snarling other the same tree. Deer will get up on their hind legs to get a taste of it.
"Once they get a taste of it, they go crazy for it," Buford said.
He's waiting on a patent, which is due in August and will get the product in stores around mid-July.
Buford checked with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Parks to ensure his attractant was legal. When he was told that his product was legal, he filed his patent paperwork and began shopping it around to outdoor stores regionally.
Buford is also hoping that he can license the product to a manufacturer, because he feels that once word gets out about Gotcha, he won't be able to keep up with demand making batches in his workshop. It takes him around five or 10 minutes to whip up a batch at his workshop table.
"I think once word gets out, there are going to be so many dadgummed orders, I won't be able to keep up," Buford said. By Steve Wilson - firstname.lastname@example.org
At top, a raccoon and an opossum fight over a jar of Gotcha deer and raccoon attractant nailed to a pole. Above, three raccoons cluster in a tree marked with Gotcha.