It's only August, but deer season is coming up fast. Check out these stories of Bayou State trophies to get you in the mood.
By Glynn Harris
It's August in Louisiana, a time when deer hunting may be the farthest thing from most hunters' minds. Frankly, it's hard to think about pulling on heavy camouflage clothing and sitting in a deer stand while sweat drips from our collective noses. Take heart: The 2003-04 deer season will be here before you know it.
To get you in a deer hunting mood while you're sipping a cool glass of iced tea in air-conditioned comfort, let's talk about some of the monster bucks taken by hunters around the Bayou State last season.
THE SANCTUARY BUCK Today in Louisiana, a growing number of hunters sit on stands on private hunting leases, most comprising 1,000 acres or more. A hunter who erects his stand on a tiny parcel of land is not nearly as likely to have a chance at a trophy buck as is the hunter sitting on 10,000 acres of carefully managed land.
Don't tell that to 44-year-old Joey Netherland. The Jonesboro oil field worker hunts on a thumbnail-sized parcel of land in Jackson Parish - land surrounded by hunting clubs. The 40-acre piece of private land for which he has permission to hunt is predominantly a clearcut with thick brush, briars and vines.
Dec. 27 dawned frosty and cold when Netherland stepped out into the morning air. "I stopped by the coffee shop to get a cup of coffee, hoping it would warm up a bit before I climbed into my stand," said Netherland. "I ran into a buddy there at the coffee shop who was planning to hunt that morning, and I offered him one of my stands. He thought about it awhile, but decided he'd go hunt his own stand. Looking back on it now, I'm sure glad he did.
Joey Netherland's Jackson Parish 8-pointer scored an amazing 175 6/8 on the Boone and Crockett
scoring system. Photo by Glynn Harris
"I didn't get into my stand until 8 a.m. I hadn't been there long when I heard something moving in the clearcut. I looked in the direction of the sound, and there this big buck came through the vines, shaking his head from side to side to get the vines off his rack.
"I got my gun up, looked through the scope and saw that I was going to have a hard time finding an opening. Luck was with me, though, because he stopped in a small opening some 250 yards from me. I got the scope on his shoulder in that small opening and squeezed the trigger.
"Then everything was silent, and I wondered if I'd missed. I sat in my stand for 15 minutes, marking a bush where the deer was standing. I walked to the bush - and there he lay. I just dropped to the ground, finding it hard to believe I'd shot something this big," Netherland recalled.
The monster buck weighed approximately 225 pounds, but the impressive part was what it wore on its head. Sporting 8 symmetrical points, the monster green-scored 175 6/8, an unbelievable score for an 8-point buck. A combination of mass and length caused the score to run off the scale. The inside spread was 20 1/4 inches, the main beams were 28 inches each and the G-2s were nearly 18 inches in length each.
"This just goes to show you that you don't have to have a huge hunting lease to take a trophy buck," concluded Netherland. "Of course, it didn't hurt that my buddy decided not to hunt my stand that morning!"
THE CREEPY-CRAWLY BUCK Many of today's successful deer hunters learned how to hunt deer by starting out on smaller game. As a youngster, Allen Gaspard, 48, of Marksville, became a successful squirrel hunter and, in the process, discovered a method of deer hunting that has paid off for him in spades. While most hunters sit on a stand, waiting for a deer to sneak by, Gaspard turns the tables on deer, preferring to do the sneaking himself.
"I noticed when I was squirrel hunting that I'd often see deer in the woods," he noted. "I found that if I was quiet and watched the deer's movements, I could creep up on deer without being detected. So I started doing this, and I've been successful at it." He has the mount of a 12-point buck hanging on his wall, and last year took a big 8-pointer and a nice 7-pointer by creeping up on them. However, Jan. 10 turned out to be a red letter day for the commercial fisherman/carpenter when he did the "creepy-crawly thing" on a monster buck on public land in Avoyelles Parish - school board property lying adjacent to the Spring Bayou Wildlife Management Area.
"I got to the woods early that morning, parked my 4-wheeler and walked about half a mile into the area I wanted to hunt," Gaspard recalled. "I started out using my climbing stand, but after sitting maybe two hours and not seeing anything, I knew it was time to 'creep.' So I got down and began easing into the wind, taking a few steps, standing still for sometimes 15 or 20 minutes before moving on.
"I had crept along until I was just a few hundred yards from my bike and the end of the hunt. Then I caught some movement to my right, I looked and got a glimpse of the same big buck I'd seen a month earlier. He was about 55 yards away and was looking at me. As big bucks will often do, he began creeping himself, trying to evade me. As he moved along, so did I.
"Just as he stepped into a small opening, I saw that if he took one more step, he'd be in some very thick brush, so I eased my rifle up and shot. I shoot a .30-30 with open sights, but I felt that I was on target. I stood there for maybe half an hour, not seeing nor hearing anything. I began creeping along and there he stood, about 100 yards from me broadside. I sneaked to within 35 yards, shot - and he fell. I found out then that my first shot had broken his hip and he couldn't run."
Green-scored at 196 4/8, the huge buck weighed in at 252 pounds; its rack sported 13 points.
Gaspard has proved convincingly that if a big buck won't creep up to your stand, you might be better off trying to creep up on him.
THE "LOST FLASHLIGHT" BUCK Amazing, isn't it, how sometimes little things can contribute to success when deer hunting? Perhaps it was your remembering to bring your grunt call on a day you grunted in a big buck. Maybe it was your choice of stands on the day a buck passed by the one you elected to hunt that day.
In Anthony Lemoine's case, it was something he forgot, rather than something he remembered, that contributed to his taking a huge buck by muzzleloader on the Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge this past season.
"I hunt Lake Ophelia fairly often, and know the area fairly well
. On the morning of Jan. 4, I slipped into the area where I planned to put up my climbing stand, but I realized I'd lost my flashlight. It was dark and I couldn't find the tree I wanted to sit in, so I just backed up against a tree and sat down on the ground instead," Lemoine explained.
"I sat there until about 8:30, when I got restless and decided to get up and move around a bit. When I stood up, I saw something move and saw it was a big buck. I had gotten a new Thompson Center 50-caliber muzzleloader for Christmas, and it came with a scope. Even though the deer was standing 100 yards away, I got him in my scope and fired.
"The deer made it to some water where the land was flooded, and it took some doing for me to get to him. Fortunately, that's where he died, and I was able to get him out.
Lemoine's buck weighed 205 pounds and carried a rack adorned with 15 points; its green score was 192.
"If I hadn't lost my flashlight that morning, I may have climbed a tree further away and might never have seen the buck," he said.
THE LAST-MINUTE BUCK Sometimes it's not so much a deer hunter's level of expertise that translates to success as it is being in the right place at the right time. Vidalia insurance agent Jerry Lipsey admits to being only an "average" deer hunter.
"I haven't shot but a few deer and really don't consider myself an expert deer hunter; I just like being out there," said Lipsey. What makes Lipsey's story so remarkable is that he waited until the last hour of the last day of deer season to bag a monster buck.
Lipsey, 48, hunts on a 700-acre private lease in Concordia Parish that adjoins the Cocodrie NWR. "Five of us had gone out to hunt Jan. 19 - the last day of gun season - for deer in Area One. We came in at noon without anybody seeing anything worth talking about. Several of the guys went on home, but since I hadn't killed a buck this season, I decided to give it one last shot," Lipsey explained.
"My wife wanted to go sit in the stand with me. She has deer hunted maybe half a dozen times and has taken only one deer in her life. As far as shooting a deer, she can take it or leave it - she just enjoys hunting.
"When we settled into the stand, I offered her the chance to take a buck if one came out. She declined, saying she was really not interested in shooting a deer that afternoon. As we waited, it was starting to get late and I had already figured I'd end the season without taking a buck. As I was scanning the area around the stand, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a really nice buck step out about 50 yards from my stand. With only 20 minutes of daylight left, there was no doubt in my mind that'd I'd try to take him. To me, it was a no-brainer.
"I squeezed the trigger, and the deer bolted and ran. I didn't know if I'd hit the deer or not. I walked over to where the deer was standing, and I found evidence of a hit. By now, it was dark, so I sent my wife to the camp to get some help.
"I continued to follow the blood trail and walked right up on the deer. He was down for good, but I had no idea his rack was this impressive until I stood over him. I can tell you for sure, I was elated," said Lipsey.
Scoring 176 1/8, the 225-pound buck sported 9 points on a heavy rack with an inside spread of 21 1/8 inches.
As Jerry Lipsey proved, it ain't over 'til it's over.
THE I-THOUGHT-I-MISSED-HIM BUCK William Addison II might weigh 75 pounds soaking wet - but the 9-year-old fourth-grader from Sunshine, near Baton Rouge, has demonstrated that you don't have to be big to bag a big buck. On Dec. 21, the youngster downed a 15-point monster weighing 180 pounds and scoring 169 7/8.
"I was hunting in a stand with my dad and our agreement was that if a buck stepped out - any buck - I had permission to shoot him," William explained.
"We had seen several does, and then, about that time, this buck steps out and keeps walking. My dad snapped his fingers to get the deer to stop. He did, and I shot him. I thought I'd missed - my dad thought so, too - because the deer just stood there awhile and then slowly walked into the woods. But my dad wanted to teach me a lesson in hunting ethics, so he said we'd go down where the deer was standing just to be sure I hadn't hit him.
"Dad walked into the woods and saw what he thought was a fallen branch with the bark knocked off, but it was the antlers of my deer. I hit him right where I was supposed to, behind the shoulder, but the bullet didn't exit, so there was no blood trail. I sure am glad we decided to go and have a look," the youngster added.
HER HUSBAND'S BUCK Robert Tycer had seen something that kept him coming back to his deer stand time and again. He'd spotted a huge buck near his stand and had hunted him off and on all last season. However, on the day he couldn't hunt, his wife, Beth, persuaded him to let her hunt his stand near the Tunica Hills WMA in West Feliciana Parish. As luck would have it, Beth downed her husband's buck.
"It was a cold day with the wind blowing," Beth began. "Robert didn't think I'd go on a day like this. He offered excuses that it was too cold, he wouldn't be there to take me, and we have a baby. I told him I'd just put on plenty of clothes, a friend had already agreed to drive me to the property and I had arranged for a baby sitter.
"After our friend dropped me off, I had to walk nearly a mile through thick mud. By the time I got to the stand, I was exhausted. Robert's stand is a lock-on, and for some reason, it was crooked - so crooked that I had to sit on the foot rest and dangle my feet. I was miserable and uncomfortable and was wondering if I needed to have my head examined.
"Just about the time I was ready to give it up, I saw two bucks come out into the field about 200 yards away. One was the big one - the one Robert had been after. I knew it when I saw him. I was hunting with my .270, put the scope on him and fired. I missed, and the deer ran - and my heart sank. However, he only ran 10 yards, stopped, and I shot again. This time, he dropped.
Tycer's buck tipped the scales at 265 pounds, sported 15 points and green-scored 168 5/8.
"She deserved it," Robert said. "She'd never killed a good buck." He then added, with a grin, "But I'm not going to say she absolutely needed this one!"
* * *
Certainly there were many more trophy bucks taken in Louisiana during the hunting season just passed. However, the accounts of the taking of these six wallhangers should be enough to make deer hunters forget about the scorching heat of August.
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