When you enter the Humansville, Mo., home of Joe Ben and Norma Essex, you would think you were in a big game museum.

When you enter the Humansville, Mo., home of Joe Ben and Norma Essex, you would think you were in a big game museum.

Displayed on the walls of their home are mounts of whitetail and mule deer, Rocky Mountain goat, big ram, antelope and they even have a mounted grizzly bear.

The Essexes have had adventures from Missouri to British Columbia while hunting for big game. They have hundreds of memories of their hunts captured in photos as well as their trophies.

Joe Ben tells of the time he was after a big grizzly bear and bagging his first moose, along with the many deer he has taken from across the country, including the big mule deer.

Norma can recall the many times afield when she was after big game, including a 300-yard shot at a Rocky Mountain goat, which is now on the wall in her home.
“We have had some exciting adventures over the years,” she said.

The Essexes used to hunt deer near Camdenton before Cedar County was open for hunting deer. Their first western hunting trip was back in 1963, and they made annual western trips for more than 20 years. Their hunting adventures have taken them to Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Montana and Canada. While hunting in Canada, they took elk, mountain goat and the grizzly bear.

Not only did the husband-and-wife team hunt big game, they have spent many hours in search of feathered game, including quail, pheasants, turkey and dove. Joe recalled how it wasn’t unusual to find plenty of quail, but he has seen the population of bobwhites decrease over the years.

“I remember when the daily limit was 10 quail, and it wasn’t too hard to get that many,” he said.

The Essexes have been married for 54 years, and that’s about when Norma started hunting seriously.

“My dad taught me how to handle a gun, but my mother about had a fit,” Norma said. “She said girls don’t need to know how to shoot. It took me a while before I could hit a quail, but one day I finally hit one, even though I thought it was too far out. Since then I have done much better getting birds,” she said.

Norma shot her first deer back in 1959, but her most memorable deer was a monster non-typical buck she shot in Cedar County, Mo., back in 1973. It scored more than 160 points. They have enjoyed hunting together ever since.

Their son, James, also is a big-time hunter who shot his first deer when he was 9 years old. Keeping the family tradition going is their granddaughter, Jahanna, 9, whose first turkey that she killed weighed more than 24 pounds. Their grandson, Jarrett, who is 6, loves fishing but is looking forward to hunting adventures like his dad and grandparents.

Although they don’t hunt big game anymore, they have enough photos and memories to last for a long, long time.