When Jason Archer climbed into his lock-on tree stand late in the afternoon on Nov. 9, he was hoping to kill a feral hog.
In his wildest dreams, he could not have predicted what actually happened.
Archer, 42, a millwright from Ferriday, La., killed a massive, 16-point whitetail that has been rough scored at more than 210 inches Boone and Crockett. It’s one of the largest whitetails ever taken in Louisiana, perhaps the largest.
If Archer’s buck has you clamoring to see more monsters,
click the image to see the top five Boone and Crockett bucks of all-time.
The area around the stand had been a busy spot for hogs, but few deer had been spotted there in daylight. So when Archer called his cousin, Wayne Wilson, the land owner and his hunting partner for the afternoon, Wilson thought it was a prank.
“I called (Wilson) and I told him, ‘I think I shot a monster,’" Archer said. “He said, “What, a monster hog?” I said, ‘No, a deer!’ He said, ‘You ain’t shot no big deer.’ He thought I had done shot a hog for sure.”
His reluctance to believe was warranted, Archer said.
“We have a pretty bad hog problem around this area,” he said. “If you put out any kind of feed, they’re the first to come. I was getting a few bucks on my camera, but they were all at night. I went bow hunting several times and I never saw a deer.”
It was the opening of primitive weapons season in Concordia Parish along the Mississippi River in eastern Louisiana, so the day started with Archer and his cousin helping some friends sight in their guns. After nearly a full day of shooting, they decided enough daylight remained for a quick hunt.
Archer didn’t see any hogs, but shortly after 5 p.m. – about an hour after climbing into the stand – he began to see deer.
A small, basket-rack 8-point was the first, entering from the USDA Conservation Reserve Program land adjacent to the property. It began to graze on a levee and the weedy, dried-up pond adjacent to it. Soon, a 10-point emerged, following the same path as the 8-point.
Archer said he and others in the area, in managing their deer herd, had been allowing bucks to mature, typically taking those in the 140-inch range and bigger. So while Archer was contemplating the 10-point, he was hampered by his stand. It had originally been configured for bow hunting, so a good amount of cover was left on the tree. In particular, a limb to his right – left in order to shield the view of deer and hogs on the levee – was preventing him from taking a shot.
“I think I probably would have taken the 10-point (if he had a shot),” Archer said. “I think that’s actually why I was able to harvest the (bigger) deer, just by waiting. Most people would have taken the smaller buck and who would have known, you know?”
About 5 minutes behind the 10-point, the biggest deer Archer had ever seen in the area came out, following the same path as the first two bucks.
“I decided I was going to get a shot some kind of way,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was going to have to climb down or what. But I was able to lean out and shoot it left-handed. I leaned out as far as I could and I shot around the limb.”
Archer thought he had gotten off a good shot. But since he had made the shot on his off-shoulder – and likely the fact that it was the buck of a lifetime – it worried him.
“The deer kind of hunkered up, so I knew that I hurt it,” he said. “As time went on, I got more and more nervous because I had taken the shot left-handed. I knew I had a hit, I just didn’t know how good it was.”
After Wilson arrived, he and Archer waited until dark to begin their search. Archer said he first passed over the area without seeing any blood.
“Then I got real nervous,” he said. “I started coming back real slow, looking really good, and I saw some specks. I said, ‘Oh, no.’
“We started following it and it probably didn’t go 15, 20 yards before the blood started picking up. We managed to trail it on up pretty quickly. When I got up there where I could see the deer, it was really shocking. It looked really big then.”
What lay at their feet amazed both hunters. The buck weighed 288 pounds. There was a 23 ½-inch inside spread, and the bases each had a circumference of more than 7 inches.
“I think he (Wilson) was more excited than I was,” Archer said. “‘You’ve got to be kidding me! That IS a monster.’
“We had not seen this deer at all, so we were not even suspecting it. We just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
Archer said the largest deer he had previously seen in his area was in the 170-inch range.
“By far the biggest deer I’ve ever killed,” he said. “I’ve hunted my whole life, since I was a little kid. I think I killed my first deer when I was 7.”If the Boone and Crockett score stands after the 60-day drying period, it could be the largest typical buck ever killed with a gun in Louisiana. Whether or not Archer’s deer will remain in the typical category remains to be seen.
“It’s right on the breaking point of being nontypical,” he said. “It’s got 14 ½ inches of abnormal points. If it gets 15 inches of abnormal points measured, then it goes to nontypical.”The firearm state record for typical is 184 6/8 from a deer taken in Madison Parish in 1943. If Archer’s is rated as nontypical, it won’t be a state record, however it will be the largest ever taken with a primitive weapon.
“If it’s typical, then it probably will be (a state record),” he said. “But that’s yet to be determined. It’s a great deer either way.”
If Archer’s buck has you clamoring to see more monsters, click the image to see the top five Boone and Crockett bucks of all-time.
Read "Top 5 Bucks of All-Time"
Go to 2013 Deer Camp