The concept of “trophy” is in the eye of the beholder. A young hunter bagging his first yearling fork-horned buck has a “trophy.” But as we gain more experience, expectations rise.
Plenty of deer hunters go afield with one goal in mind. They love venison and are only looking for back straps and tender loins. Should a trophy happen to cross such a hunter’s path, he’ll take it. But really, that’s not what he’s after.
There is another class of deer hunter who has nothing but trophy bucks on his mind. He plans, schemes and hunts big bucks all year, walking out trails, locating bedding areas and looking for the subtle sign that tell him the “bull of the woods” is still around.
He keeps his food plots planted and maintained all year long and his trail cameras out so that when the fall arrives, he’s ready.
Both those classes of individuals were among the hunters in Louisiana that scored big during the 2009-10 deer season. There were hunters who, like the proverbial blind hog, found the acorn, while others bagged a specific trophy buck because it was the only one they wanted.
Some hunters, such as Darren Mouton who regularly travels from one end of the state to the other to deer hunt, combine their love for venison with an equally important quest to bring down a big buck.
Mouton, who lives in Breaux Bridge, does his deer hunting at the Trail’s End Hunting Club in Winn Parish, nearly 200 miles to the north. Besides antlers and venison, Mouton has another goal when he heads for woods. He wants to turn his sons, 13-year-old Dylan and 8-year-old Cole into deer hunters.
During last year’s Thanksgiving holidays, Mouton and his boys were in deer camp looking for venison, as well as a chance at a big buck.
It was Cole’s turn to hunt with his dad on the morning of November 27. However, the youngster made a decision that morning he’s likely regretting today. He decided to sleep in so Mouton went to his stand alone that morning.
A big buck stepped out and Mouton bagged the highest ranked typical buck scored by the Louisiana Division of Wildlife and Fisheries for last season. The 10-point bruiser stretched the tape to an impressive 167 Boone and Crockett Club score.
Monroe’s L.E. Bower brought in another high scoring buck. He shot a buck with a rack consisting of 27 points, a 20-inch inside spread and scoring 228 6/8 B&C points.
These were just two of scores of impressive trophy bucks taken in Louisiana this past season. Although there are areas of the state that traditionally yield impressive animals, some of last season’s highest scoring bucks came from areas not typically known as producing trophies.
Scott Durham, Deer Study Leader for the LDWF was not particularly shocked, however.
“I wasn’t all that surprised that some big deer came from these areas. Big deer can show up anywhere,” Durham said. “The majority of trophies each year typically come from areas with better soils, such as the bottomland hardwood areas.”
Those are most often found amid the rich alluvial soils along the Mississippi Delta and the south-central Louisiana swamps
Retired Game Division head of LDWF, David Moreland, still keeps his finger on the pulse of the whitetail deer situation around the state and he agreed that while most of the trophies are taken in delta regions, others could show up in places not necessarily known for big deer.
“There was a real nice deer brought in from Calcasieu Parish, an area in southwest Louisiana not usually known for producing big bucks,” Moreland said.
In fact, the top three typical bucks scored by LDWF officials this past season came from such areas.
Besides Mouton’s 167 B&C trophy, John Lovell took the No. 2 rack in Winn Parish as well. It scored 164. Winn is more known for its red clay hills and pine forests, habitat not generally conducive to producing trophy bucks. Those bucks were taken one day apart, with Lovell’s killed on November 26.
Todd Buffington of Minden bagged the third highest scoring buck. That rack measuring 163 2/8 B&C and was collected on November 13 in Webster Parish. Like Winn Parish, Webster is more known for it’s hills and pines than dense hardwoods and rich soils that are more accommodating to big bucks.
Buffington downed his 11-point trophy under circumstances that gave him reason to believe the rut was beginning.
“In less than a minute, I’d seen four other smaller bucks the big one chased from the thicket before he stepped out and I got him,” said Buffington.
Another buck with eye-popping numbers was taken in Claiborne Parish, which adjoins Webster. It’s not known as a big buck producer.
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