Ronny Dugas enjoys the experience of hunting on Sabine Island Wildlife Management Area in Calcasieu Parish, but it’s not exactly for the faint of heart.
First he has a boat ride, then he has to paddle a pirogue more than three-quarters of a mile to reach his hunting location.
“The swamp that I have to go through is full of bullfrogs and alligators,” said Dugas, 27, of Vinton. “You get to see all that stuff when you pirogue in early in the morning. I’ve got a light on, and can watch the gators go by.
“They’re not too big, but it’s a pretty neat little adventure.”
On Friday, Oct. 7, he almost needed a bigger pirogue for his return trip after he stuck a nice public lands 10-pointer that stretched the tape to more than 130 inches.
“I was hunting a bunch of water oaks that were dropping a lot,” Dugas said. “It’s all mainly swamp with ridges throughout, but they were dropping big time in this one little patch with six oak trees.
“It was raining down acorns.”
Dugas had paddled in early and was in position 25 feet up in a sweetgum tree as the sun rose over the swamp, but it wasn’t long before he had to make a split-second decision.
“I was looking out in front of me at the oak trees watching some squirrels eat acorns, and I just happened to look down to my right,” he said. “He was just standing there. I was shocked.”
A big flood last spring made it even easier for the stealthy old buck to come in unnoticed, Dugas said.
“The island experienced a major flood, so it washed all the leaves out,” he said. “You can’t hear a deer walking in the woods.”
The deer was at 20 yards, but quartering away facing a thicket.
“If I wouldn’t have shot him right there and he would have taken 10 more steps, he would have been in some thick brush and I’d have never gotten a shot unless he would have come back,” he said. “It really happened so fast. I saw him and I knew he was a big deer, but I didn’t know which deer it was.
“I saw a big rack and I knew he was a mature deer, so it didn’t take long to make a decision. I spun around and threw an arrow at him.”
Dugas was hunting with a Mathews Switchback XT bow and a Gold Tip arrow equipped with a Rage mechanical broadhead and a Lumenock.
His aim was true, and the broadhead ripped into the buck’s left side and smashed into its right shoulder.
“I could hear him stumbling through the woods and then it got quiet,” he said. “You know what happened. I saw where it hit him, and I knew he was dead.
“Where the angle was and where it went in, there was no doubt it went through his lungs. I heard him crash in the woods.”
He texted his wife, dad and hunting buddy as the post-shot shakes hit.
“I was pretty pumped up,” said Dugas, who works as an operator for DuPont in Orange, Texas. “I was excited. There’s no doubt about it.”
He waited about 20 minutes before ratcheting down, and didn’t even have to look for blood to find the buck.
“I could see the white of his belly through the brush, and I walked right to him,” he said.
Dugas recognized the big buck as one he had seen on his trail cam. It had 10 points, with a 16 ¾-inch inside spread, 4 ½ inch bases and weighed 160 pounds. The buck was aged at 5 ½ years, and measured 132 inches Pope and Young for his best rack ever.
News of the kill traveled fast in the area, and Dugas said he had a little fun with it at a local convenience store the very next day.
“I actually went to the store and was getting gas, and I was wearing camo and had my boat with me,” he said. “A guy there asked me if I was going hunt on the island, and I told him that I was going out there to walk around a bit.
“He said, ‘Man, they had some guy out there killed a big 10-point yesterday. They say the buck was a stud.’
“I just said, ‘Man, I’m guess I’m going to have to get out there and check it out.”
Don't forget to enter photos of your bucks in the Nikon Big Buck Photo Contest to be eligible for monthly giveaways and the random drawing for Nikon optics at the end of the contest.
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.