About three weeks before bow season opened, Daniel Murray started getting trail camera pictures of a nice 10-point buck on a small wooded patch of property he hunts in Ouachita Parish.
In just about all the photos, the buck always had the same companion.
“Every time I saw him, I saw a little cull buck,” said Murray, 31, of West Monroe. “I guess they were buddies.”
Fast forward to the afternoon of the opening day of bow season on Oct. 1, and Murray was positioned 15 feet up on a ladder stand overlooking a pile of corn on the corner of a firing lane. After seeing only a doe, a yearling and two raccoons on his hunt that morning, the cull buck was about to change his luck.
“When I got there that evening, the cull buck comes out and he saw me. He knew something was wrong, but I didn’t spook him off,” Murray said. “So he sat there about an hour eating my corn and staring me down.
“He finally left, and it wasn’t 15 or 20 minutes later that he came back and brought that big big buck with him.”
The 10-point approached from Murray’s left about 5:45, and got behind a low-hanging tree limb about 20 yards away.
“So I went ahead and drew back on him — and like usual, he stopped behind the limb,” he said.
Murray’s PSE Stinger 3G was at full draw, and he had to make a quick decision.
“I held for as long as I could, and it was either shoot through a little hole I saw, or let off and spook him — so I went ahead and took my shot through that little opening,” he said.
At the shot, the big buck whirled and took off the way it had come in, and after a few minutes Murray made his way down to check on his arrow — an Easton Carbon Express tipped with a Slick Trick 100-grain fixed broadhead.
What he found wasn’t exactly encouraging.
“I don’t know if I hit the limb or something, but I knew I hit him farther back than I wanted,” Murray said. “I had blood, but it wasn’t good blood. I hit his intestines. I had some food on my arrow, so I knew it wasn’t a great shot.”
Murray headed for his truck to get a flashlight and give the buck some more time before he started looking for a blood trail. When he returned, the going was tough.
“I still couldn’t find a lot of blood. I was about to the point of giving up until the next day when I saw some branches broken backwards,” he said. “I figured a deer with a rack like that would probably do that, so I started easing through there and that’s when I started picking up on the blood trail again.
“There was blood about every 15 feet, until I got within 10 yards of him, and the bushes started getting painted with blood. He probably didn’t get 70 yards from where I actually shot him at.”
The big buck, which Murray estimated at more than 200 pounds and about 4 ½ years old, had 10 points, nine of which were scorable. At Simmons’ Sporting Goods in Bastrop, the buck measured 143 ⅛ inches, and is currently in 5th place in the archery division of the store’s Big Buck Contest.
“It was pretty exciting to be honest with you,” he said. “That’s my first split-horn to ever shoot — I’ve always just killed spikes. That was my first kill like that, especially with a bow being that close.”
For his biggest deer ever, Murray said he remained pretty calm while taking his shot.
“I was pretty good. It wasn’t as bad I thought I was going to be,” he said with a chuckle. “It happened pretty quick, because I would have probably got more nervous the longer it lasted.”
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.