Louisiana'™s 2006 Big-Buck Roundup

Louisiana'™s 2006 Big-Buck Roundup

Hunters from all over the Bayou State from ages 8 to 80

shot some impressive bucks last year. (August 2007)

Photo by BillKinney.com.

The fact that deer hunting knows no age restrictions was proven emphatically this past hunting season in Louisiana: Hunters from ones of grade-school age to those nearing their eighth decade brought whopping-big whitetails home from the woods.

Jeff Simmons, owner of Simmons Sporting Goods in Bastrop concluded his 18th Annual Simmons Big Buck Contest with the presentation of awards and prizes to hunters bringing in the biggest bucks last season.

The youngest contest winner is 9 years old, the oldest 80. In between, a plethora of hunters from around the state, men and women from every walk of life, can lay claim to the bragging rights for some very impressive trophy racks.

Here, then, are highlights of the stories that a few of last season's successful hunters had to tell.

THE "I SNUCK UP ON HIM" BUCK

Andrew Talley grew up in New Mexico, but he looked forward each fall to visiting Shreveport and getting to hunt deer on his uncle's farm in Bossier Parish. At the age of 19, he came to live in Shreveport for his senior year in high school, and now attends Louisiana State University-Shreveport.

"On Sunday, Nov. 12, I hunted that morning before church without seeing anything. I got down from the stand, got ready and went to church," Talley began. "After lunch, I got on my hunting clothes for an afternoon hunt, but family members came for a visit, and I was delayed until around 3:00 getting on my stand.

"Nothing was happening. It was getting late, and I decided to call off the hunt. I got on my four-wheeler, drove to a gate and opened it so I could continue on.

"While closing the gate, I looked across the field and saw this big buck crossing some 500 yards from me. He stopped and looked my way, but it was so far, he wasn't spooked. I knew I couldn't close the distance on my four-wheeler, so I put the sneak on the deer, keeping trees between me and him."

Talley was able to sneak to within 120 yards of the buck, which never moved from the same spot. "I got the cross hairs on him, touched the trigger on my .270, and he dropped," he said. "I knew it was a good buck, but I didn't know how big he was until I walked up to him. I've killed good deer on my uncle's farm, including a 14-point and a 10-point, but nothing I ever shot was as impressive as this buck."

The 220-pounds buck sported a 13-point rack that green-scored 179 3/8.

THE "MURPHY'S LAW" BUCK

No doubt you're familiar with Murphy's Law that says, in effect, that if something can go wrong, it will. Monroe's Will Jones found out that Murphy's Law even applies to deer hunters -- but in his case, Jones beat Murphy's predictions hands down.

"I was hunting at a friend's camp in Concordia Parish with my dad," said Jones. "We had bowhunted four days without success, but while we were there, my dad found some fresh sign of a good buck and suggested that I take my rifle and give the big buck a try.

"I got in my climbing stand with my rifle, a 7mm Sako, and rattling horns and was all ready to hunt when I dropped my rifle clip. Here I am, far up a tree, and my clip is on the ground. There was nothing for me to do but climb down the tree, retrieve my clip and climb back up, which I did.

"I was preparing to load my clip when I realized something else -- my bullets were in the bag I'd left on the ground at the foot of the tree! So I climbed back down, got my bullets and got back up the tree, my confidence all but shot. With all the noise I'd made climbing up and down the tree, I felt my chances at seeing a deer were just about zero. Nevertheless, the rut was on, so I decided to hang with it since I was already there.

"I waited awhile to let things settle down," Talley continued, "and then I picked up the rattling horns I had with me and struck them together. When I did, I heard something behind me and turned in time to see a big buck get up out of his bed and look in my direction. He'd apparently been there the whole time, and either saw or heard me going up and down the tree. Why he didn't sneak out of there, I don't know. I dropped him, unable to believe just how lucky I was."

Lucky or not, Jones' buck was the highest-scoring 8-point buck in the Simmons contest with a green score of 161 3/8. Determined to be 5 1/2 years old, the buck weighed in excess of 200 pounds.

THE "CANYON" BUCK

Larry Rogers, 70, is a retired state employee who lives on Turkey Creek Lake. He downed an impressive buck that scored over 155 -- especially impressive since the buck only sported 7 points, winning the "Best Seven Point" buck award at Simmons Sporting Goods.

From what Rogers has been able to determine, his buck may be the highest scoring 7-point buck ever measured in Louisiana. Deer hunters know that any buck scoring in excess of 150 points is a trophy; Rogers' scored 157 5/8.

Rogers was afield amid Catahoula Parish's beautiful hills and hollows -- unusual terrain for Louisiana -- when he bagged the buck. "I was hunting 300 acres of private land that joins the Sicily Island Hills Wildlife Management Area," he began. "I had my climbing stand 25 feet high on a big pine and situated on a point between two of those deep gullies -- I call 'em 'canyons' -- so I could see down into both gullies. There was a big cane thicket down near where the gullies were, and I was in a good position to see anything that moved down there.

"I began to hear a racket down in the cane, and I realized that what I was hearing was a buck chasing a doe. Finally just before dark, the doe darted out on a sandy stretch with the buck hot on her heels. I shot him with my 7mm Mag, and it was something like watching one of those hunting shows out West where the animal falls into a canyon. My buck tumbled down to the bottom of a deep gully and it took several of us two hours to winch him up out of there; that was the only way we could get him out."

THE "EXCUSE ME WHILE I POWDER MY NOSE" BUCK

Joe Hazlip, an octogenarian who lives in the village of Goldman near Waterproof in Tensas Parish, hunts from a rather unique stand, but the 80-year-old hunter says that his set-up is just right for waylaying a buck and bringing it down by means of his crossbow.

"I had one of those Tree Lounge stands I used to climb a tree with, but the squirrels ate up the material and left only the frame," he said, chuckling. "I put some boards where the seat was, and I just prop the old stand up against a tree where I'm comfortable and can watch a trail the deer like to use.

"It was near the end of season in January when I was sitting on my stand one afternoon, hoping the big buck I'd been hearing about might come by. I was watching the trail when a doe came out and right behind her was this big buck. I didn't get excited because I figured he wouldn't come close enough to give me a good shot with the crossbow."

What happened next is almost comical, because the buck did something that any red-blooded human guy might do before ringing the doorbell to meet his date for the evening.

"The doe ran on off past me and the buck stopped and began grooming himself," Hazlip continued. "I mean, he licked and licked -- I've never seen a deer do that. All of a sudden, he looked up and realized his doe was gone; he'd spent too much time licking and grooming.

"As he set about looking for the doe he'd lost, he passed within 20 yards of me, and I shot him. He ran maybe 50 yards before piling up; I saw him the whole time until he fell."

With a score of 168 6/8, the 210-pound buck won Hazlip a spot in the archery division of the Simmons contest.

THE "DIALING LONG DISTANCE" BUCK

Matt Robin, 27, lives in St. Joseph in Tensas Parish and works for a farm equipment company in Waterproof. On Jan. 3, he downed an impressive buck with his muzzleloader, although he had to "dial long distance" to accomplish the task.

"I was hunting this particular buck for four years. I'd seen his photo from a trail camera and I dreamed of having a crack at him," said Robin.

"I was hunting private land that afternoon when I saw a doe run out of the brush with two deer chasing her. One raised his head, and I knew immediately that it was the buck I'd been after. However, I was shooting my muzzleloader, and the deer was at least 300 yards away, and I didn't think I'd have a chance at this big buck. They disappeared into the brush, and my heart sank, because I figured I wouldn't get another chance at him.

"About 20 minutes later, the doe came back out at 200 yards, I cocked my muzzleloader and waited. A few seconds later, the big buck came out and stopped broadside at 200 yards."

Robin shoots his muzzleloader several times a week during season and knows what his gun will do at various distances. He felt confident that he could make a good shot on the buck, even at this distance.

"I put the cross hairs about 6 inches over his back," he recalled, "and shot. When the smoke cleared, there he laid, right where he fell. I reloaded my gun, got down from my stand and headed toward him. I could see him lying on the ground as I stepped into the brush to go around a mud puddle. When I came back out into the clearing, the deer was gone."

Luck was on Robin's side, as he was able to ease up and put the finishing touches on his trophy. The buck green-scored 176 6/8 and, depending on the final score after the drying period, could compete for the highest-scoring buck taken by muzzleloader in Louisiana.

THE "WHITE TRASH" BUCK

Joni Turner is a stay-at-home mom who spends most of her time with her toddler -- but that didn't keep her from getting in a few days of deer hunting this past season.

"I grew up as a hunter, and married a guy who is a serious hunter. On the afternoon of Nov. 26, I arranged child care so I could hunt. I took my gun, my binoculars, a grunt call and a wad of bubble gum and was content to enjoy the afternoon, hoping I'd have a chance at a buck," Turner explained.

"I had my feet propped up on the stand -- blowing bubbles -- and every 10 minutes or so I'd hit the grunt call," she said with a laugh. "I had just grunted when I saw a deer stick its head out of the brush down the lane. I couldn't tell what it was until it stepped out and I saw all those antlers. I put the cross hairs on his shoulder, closed my eyes and pulled the trigger.

"I got on my cell phone and called my husband, all excited, and told him I'd just shot a big buck. He didn't believe it, because he'd just dropped me off 20 minutes earlier. He told me to walk down to where the deer was standing -- he'd wait on the phone -- and tell him what I saw.

"I told him I didn't see any blood, but commented that someone had thrown some trash in our woods, because I could see something white and assumed it was trash. My husband told me to wait there; he was on his way.

"When he got there, I showed him where the deer was standing and mentioned the trash I saw there in the woods. "'Joni,' he said, 'that's not trash -- that's the white belly of your deer.' The buck only went about 10 yards!"

Turner's 13-point trophy won a spot in the Women's Division at the Simmons contest with a score of 143 4/8.

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