Sometimes, a plan just comes together perfectly and all the pieces fall in place to bring down a monster buck.
At least that’s what happened to Dr. Travis Links Friday afternoon in West Feliciana Parish — with an assist from a trail cam that worked just long enough to give away the hiding place of a giant deer nicknamed Zeus.
The dominoes that led to the 190-class buck’s downfall started opening weekend when Links and his hunting partners decided to set up a camera and put out some rice bran near an old overgrown food plot they hadn’t replanted this season.
“Well, the camera worked — for exactly one day last Sunday — and we got pictures of the deer bedding down right in front of the camera,” said Links, a chiropractor in St. Francisville. “He was there right after dark, like he had to be in the field in daylight …. We nicknamed him Zeus, god of the gods.”
But the hunters didn’t see the picture of the heavy-horned buck until last Thursday — and Links couldn’t wait for his next opportunity to get in the stand.
“I didn’t sleep for a second Thursday night. My wife was ready to kick me out of the house,” he said. “She knew I was just freaking out about this deer.”
Over lunch Friday, Links and longtime hunting partner A.J. Daigle devised a plan to take down the big buck, discussing the right wind for various stand locations, plotting if they could catch the deer traveling and whether they should risk putting out more feed.
Neither of them realized then the big buck would go down only hours later that very afternoon. Daigle ventured to the lease to put out more rice bran, and Links went home to get his Hoyt Carbon Spider Turbo bow and was in the stand for about 3:30.
“It was honestly one of the slowest hunts I’ve ever had on our lease. I didn’t see a squirrel. There were no birds. It was eerie, kinda,” Links said. “But the whole hunt my heart was beating like I was at full draw on a 150-inch deer because I knew at any second this monster could step out.”
Sure enough, around 7 p.m., the big buck showed itself on the edge of the overgrown food plot — and Links’ heart headed into overdrive.
“Daylight was fading quickly, and he popped out straight ahead of me walking dead at me from the end of the field,” he said. “I saw him and I was freaking out. He stepped into the field and his head just popped up.
“He was a monster.”
The buck was at 65 yards, steadily walking through the tall weeds right toward Links.
“My heart was going 200 beats a minute and I was trying to get a range on him, but I was shaking so bad I couldn’t even get my rangefinder to steady on the deer,” he said. “So I started ranging trees that were around him.
“Finally, I got this one tree and said, ‘OK, if he gets right here, I’m going to try to shoot him.” It was 47 yards.”
Sure enough, the buck made its way to the tree, and actually turned a little to nibble on a low-hanging branch.
Links knew it was now or never.
“I took a deep breath and put my 50-yard pin a little low on him and I just let it go,” he said. “I thought I hit him, but I wasn’t sure to be honest with you.
“After I let the arrow go, I was literally almost going into convulsions. I was freaking out.”
The buck ran back the way it came, and Links headed down several minutes later to see if he could find his Easton Full Metal Jacket Deep Six arrow. He didn’t see the arrow, but saw chunks of thick red blood, and quickly backed out.
His dad was hunting nearby and Daigle had shot a hog, so they went and tracked it down before returning to the food plot around 9 p.m.
“We started a blood trail that literally looked like a water hose was dumping blood out of the deer,” Links said. “He didn’t go 35 yards. He was 15 yards out of the edge of the field.”
The sight of the big deer piled up literally brought the group to tears.
“We were just amazed at the size of this deer’s rack,” Links said. “This wasn’t just something I killed. This was me, my dad and my buddy A.J. - we’ve been hunting together forever and it took all of us to get this deer."
The big non-typical buck had 18 scoreable points — 20 if you count the two that measured three-quarters of an inch. Its inside spread was 18 inches, with heavy mass throughout — starting out with bases at least 7 ½ inches each. The giant — estimated at 4 ½ years old — was green-scored at 196 ⅞ inches Pope and Young.
Turns out Links’ shot was spot-on perfect, with his Rage Hypodermic broadhead catching the buck’s heart, lungs and liver.
“That is not the skill of me. That is completely God that did that,” he said. “I have no idea how I made that shot. I pride myself on being a good shot with a bow, but in that moment — as freaked out as I was about this deer — that wasn’t me.
“I’m not going to say that was skill, because I’d by lying.”
No one had ever seen the buck on the property until that fateful Sunday when the trail cam that worked for exactly one day snapped its picture. But Links has big plans for a mount to commemorate a hunt he’ll never forget.
“We caped him out to do a full body mount, but I’m going to have to do some convincing with the wife to make that happen,” he said with a chuckle. “I wanted to just get rid of the coffee table and put it in the middle of the living room, but I think my two kids would destroy it.”
Don't forget to enter photos of your bucks in the Nikon Big Buck Photo Contest to be eligible for monthly giveaways and the rand drawing for Nikon optics at the end of the contest.
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.