Deer hunters across our state emerged from the woods after the 2007-08 season with an impressive roster of big-time trophies. Here's an inside look at some of the best bucks taken last season. (August 2008)
Matt Robin shows off his second prize-winning muzzleloader buck in as many seasons.
Photo courtesy of Glynn Harris.
There's nothing discreet about Simmons Sporting Goods -- at least, not by comparison with its modest hometown of Bastrop, which is tucked in the extreme northeast corner of Louisiana.
Self-described as the South's "largest sporting goods outfitter," Simmons is a camouflaged playground for the outdoor enthusiast, sporting full mounts of alligators, bears and a virtual flock of waterfowl, along with just about every piece of hunting and fishing gear imaginable.
Fittingly, each year after the last deer hunter has emerged from the woods and the season is closed, Simmons plays host to the best -- and biggest -- bucks taken in our state, as well as neighboring Arkansas and Mississippi. Make no mistake: There's nothing discreet about these deer, either.
The contest to determine the best buck harvested during the 2007-08 season was admittedly sparse in entries, but though quantity might have been lacking, quality certainly wasn't.
"The top 30 or so bucks entered are probably the biggest we've ever seen here since we've been hosting the contest," store owner Jeff Simmons noted. "What is interesting is that, when you stop to analyze it, those bucks that placed in our contest came from all over the state. There was no particular parish or area that monopolized the big-buck production; there are a few big bucks everywhere around the state. You would think that the rich soils along the Mississippi delta parishes would predominate, but actually, that hasn't been the case. Big deer can come from just about anywhere in Louisiana."
Here's a look at some of the most impressive -- and some of the most memorable -- Bayou State bucks from the 2007-2008 deer season.
"MY BLIND'S ON FIRE!"
Scoring 165 inches, Jody Stacy's muzzleloader buck may have just missed the winner's list, but his story is too compelling to brush aside. His story fits into the weird-and-wacky category into which fit things that can -- and often do -- happen to deer hunters when they least expect it.
Stacy, 45, is a mechanic who lives in Goodwill in West Carroll Parish. "I was hunting with my 50-caliber Knight muzzleloader on some private land on Dec. 26, a spot where I'd seen good deer for the past several seasons but was never able to get close enough for a good shot," he began. "I had figured out where the deer were doing most of their traveling, so I made a blind out of cow feed sacks, drove five iron posts in the ground to hang the feed sacks on and put some netting around it to hide my face. My little blind didn't have a roof, so if I hunted it in the rain, I took along a garbage bag (that) I slipped over my head to keep as dry as I could.
"I was hunting there the day after Christmas this past year when the big buck stepped out at 20 yards. Since he was so close, I knew there was no way I could move to part the netting so I got the bead on the buck and shot him through the netting," Stacy explained.
What happened next perhaps qualified Stacy's hunt as one of the most memorable of the year. When the gun discharged, the blast produced not only smoke but fire as well: The netting and the feed-sack blind began burning.
"I didn't have time to think about if I hit the deer, because all I wanted to do was put the fire out," the hunter continued. "Once I'd beat the fire out and the smoke cleared enough for me to see, I heard a noise and it was the buck hitting a fence. He had jumped one fence but fell before he could get over the next one. He was dead when I got there."
Stacy's buck, an 11-point monarch, had 5-inch bases, main beams of approximately 23 inches each and an inside spread of 19 7/8 inches.
"It took three of us to get him loaded," he added. "The deer weighed in the neighborhood of 275 pounds."
Lesson learned: Don't shoot a muzzleloader through netting unless you have a fire extinguisher handy!
"ONE GOOD TURN DESERVES ANOTHER"
A.B. York has a 7-point buck to thank for giving him a chance at a monster 11-point on Nov. 2: The smaller buck was allowed to walk after chasing away a doe that had positioned herself under the tree where York waited with his bow. Here's what happened.
Recalled York, "I was hunting on a lease in East Carroll Parish at Willow Point. . . . I had gone out late in the afternoon around 3:30 p.m. and got into a climbing stand I had put up in a hackberry tree. There was a food plot behind me where we had some Biologic planted.
"I hadn't been there long before a doe came out and started milling around, and then a nice 7-point buck stepped out. I decided I'd take him. About that time, I heard another buck thrashing the brush with his antlers, so I decided to wait and see what he was before releasing an arrow on the 7-pointer.
"The buck that had been thrashing saplings in the thicket stepped out," York continued, "offering me a perfect shot -- except for one problem: The doe had moved directly under my tree, and to reach for my bow and stand up would have spooked all three deer.
"That's when the 7-pointer came to my rescue. He rushed toward the doe and ran her off. He returned to the food plot and both he and the big buck were looking away, giving me time to get my bow off the bow holder. But I was afraid to stand, believing the added movement would be detected by the two bucks.
"Since they were both looking away, I slowly drew my bow from my seat, which was difficult; if my bow had pulled another 2 pounds, I wouldn't have been able to draw. But once I did, and it broke over, a little smile came over my face -- because there he was, at 25 yards: broadside, with my pin behind his shoulder."
After releasing the arrow, York said he was actually too "shook up" to climb down immediately. "I stayed in the stand another 15 minutes, reliving the shot and confident that I had made good arrow placement on the buck," he recalled. "I climbed down, walked to the spot where the buck was standing and found a little blood. I knew the deer had run off but was hit, so rather than rush him, I returned to camp and got some friends to come search with me.
"We looked for the buck, following a little blood, until around 11 p.m. before backing out and waiting for first light the next morning."
After what York described as a sleepless night, he and his friends returned to the area the following morning at first light, and within half an hour had found the buck, about 200 yards from where York had shot him.
"I had shot the buck a little farther back than I thought, which explained why he left a sparse blood trail and traveled this far," said the hunter.
York's buck, an 11-point trophy, green-scored 171 3/8 inches at the Simmons contest. The buck had a 19 3/8-inch spread and weighed approximately 230 pounds. York was awarded first place in the archery category at the Simmons contest -- and he has a 7-point buck to thank.
"I SHOT MY HUSBAND'S BUCK"
Brenda Sullivan lives with her husband in Pioneer on 1,600 acres of farmland south of Waverly in Madison Parish. Sullivan and her husband have been avid bowhunters for the past five years and look forward each year to the time when bow season comes around again.
"My husband and I had been driving around on the farm when we spotted this big buck on our land, and he said, 'That's my buck; I'm going to get him,'" she explained.
"I bowhunt mostly from an Ameristep ground blind, and on the afternoon of Oct. 10, I had put out some corn in front of the blind and climbed in. I hadn't been there very long at all when, all of a sudden, this big buck my husband and I had seen just stepped out about 15 steps from me. To tell you the truth, the buck didn't look all that big when I first saw him, and I couldn't be sure it was the big one we had seen. However, he looked plenty big to try him with my bow and so I drew the bow, put the pin on him and released the arrow."
According to Sullivan, the blind moved just a bit when she released the arrow, at which point she realized that the arrow had actually nicked the blind when she released it. "Once I nicked the blind," she said, "I assumed I'd missed but I went out to look around, and I found the arrow. There was indication on the arrow that the deer had been hit, but stomach and intestinal matter on the shaft let me know it wasn't a really good hit.
"I called my husband and he came over and we looked until dark and never found the deer. We decided to leave it overnight and resume the search the next morning."
Sullivan's son came to help her search for the deer, and after a short search, he found the buck. The trophy was a symmetrical 8-point buck with a 20-inch spread that green scored 139 3/8.
To prove that her trophy buck was no fluke, Sullivan added, later in the season she downed another buck with her rifle that scored 159 7/8.
Sullivan's 8-point buck was awarded first place in the women's archery division in the Simmons Big Buck Contest.
"SAME SONG, SECOND VERSE"
One year ago, Matt Robin, of St. Joseph, bagged a big buck by muzzleloader that carted off a prize in the Simmons Big Buck Contest. This year, Robin stepped forward to claim his second prize in as many seasons. His big 11-pointer placed fourth in this year's contest.
"I was hunting the same stand using the same gun as a year ago," Robin explained. "I killed the deer last year on Jan. 3; this year I got my buck on Jan. 11.
"I had been seeing this buck on a trail camera since June, so my confidence level was high when I started hunting him this season. I climbed into my stand that afternoon and before long, a doe stepped out into the (Conservation Reserve Program) brush 400 yards from me, and she was looking back; I felt she was eyeing another deer.
"Around 5 p.m., I could see the tips of antlers above the grass and realized it might be the big buck. He stepped into a clearing, and I knew for sure it was him. I knew I had to get his attention and get him to move closer so I used the Primos Buck Roar call that really puts out the sound. . . . Once I hit the Buck Roar, he stopped and then started tearing up a bush with his antlers. I hit the Roar again -- and he started coming toward me.
"I was looking at him with binoculars when he disappeared," Robin recalled. "After glassing the area for a while, I laid the binoculars aside and when I did, he stepped out at 100 yards. I put the cross hairs on him, squeezed the trigger and he dropped on the spot."
This buck was indeed a trophy, green-scoring 173 with 11 points and a 20-inch inside spread. "There's no doubt in my mind," said Robin, "that the loud grunt made by the Buck Roar is the reason I got that buck."
"NO ANTLERS? NO PROBLEM!"
Greg Dismuke lives in Bernice in Union Parish. The 43-year-old hunter leases 600 acres of timber company land with three friends.
"I had been working 12-hour shifts since October, and my job had really messed up my bow season," he said. "I assumed that this season was going to be a bust because I hadn't gotten to hunt but very little.
"One year ago, while I was bowhunting near the end of the season, Isaw this big deer that had already dropped his antlers. The circles on his head where his antlers had been were big, so I knew this was a really nice buck. I was bowhunting when I saw him last year, and he was close enough for a shot, but I couldn't bring myself to send an arrow into a big buck with no antlers."
"I had worked the night shift on Nov. 8, 2007, and as soon as I got off work, I headed for our lease. I was really sleepy but decided I'd hunt until 9 a.m. before going home and sleeping.
"I slipped into an area that is actually a bend in the creek that creates a funnel between two clearcuts. I knew deer liked to travel along that patch of woods. I sat on the ground and hadn't been there long before a doe came out followed by a 3-point buck. Following them was this really big buck. I eased my gun up, he paused in an opening, I shot and he dropped."
Dismuke's buck was a big 7-point with a 21 1/4-inch inside spread, weighing 210 pounds and green-scoring 143 3/8, an impressive score for only 7 points.
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Admittedly, scores of impressive bucks were killed around the state this past season. However, the sampling we've highlighted provides proof that in Louisiana -- to borrow Jeff Simmons' observation -- there are a few big deer everywhere.