When Gregg Durand pulled into The Spotted Dog in Columbia on the day after Thanksgiving, he wasn’t looking for any awesome Black Friday deals — he was simply trying to get a green score on a thick-horned Caldwell Parish buck he’d just shot. 

But by the reaction the big deer in the back of his pickup truck got from store patrons, you could have sworn he was giving away big-screen TVs, appliances and hunting gear out in the parking lot.

“I stayed there probably two hours before I was able to leave,” Durand said with a chuckle. “They probably had 80 people around my truck freaking out over the deer and taking pictures. I was like, ‘Man, I need to go gut the deer.’ But I didn’t mind.

“Twice I tried to leave and people would slap my tailgate and say, ‘So-and-so is pulling up, and I want to show them.’ Then they’d come and more people would get there. It was crazy. The guy told me that was the biggest deer he’s scored in three or four years.”

The big rack is impressive not just for its 15 points and 22 ⅛-inch inside spread, but for the heavy mass it carries out to the tips. Circumference at both bases was almost 7 inches, and only increased from there.

“When he came out, it looked like he had branches or pipes on the side of his head,” Durand said. “I knew exactly what deer it was. It was so easy to spot him.”

A machinist from St. Martinville who works for Taylor Oilfield Manufacturing in Broussard, Durand was hunting on his boss’s lease in Columbia, where the big deer had been No. 1 on the hit list for about a month after recently showing up in trail cam pictures.

The buck, which was ultimately scored 174 2/8 inches, appeared at a feeder about 80 yards from Durand’s ground blind overlooking a bottom with a thicket on both sides. From the time he saw the buck around 9 a.m. to when he fired his .270 Short Mag was only seconds. 

“They had two smaller 8-points in the feed, and they got low to the ground and took off running fast,” he said. “I looked and he just came running in there and stopped right beside the PVC pipe (feeder) and looked straight at me.

“I know he didn’t see me, but I didn’t want to take a chance of another deer blowing or something. I said, ‘I’m shooting now,’ and he just dropped. I didn’t give myself time to get nervous.”

The big buck piled up in the pile of rice bran, and Durand took off so fast that he fell coming out of the ground blind. Trail cam pictures didn’t prepare him for an up close and personal view of the deer, which was estimated to be about 5 ½ years old.

“At first, it didn’t seem real. I knew he was a nice deer, but I didn’t think he’d score that much,” Durand said. “Walking back to the 4-wheeler, I still didn’t feel like I killed it. 

“And I didn’t realize how big it was until we started loading it up.”

The big buck is at the taxidermist and will soon occupy a place of honor on a wall — which doesn’t exactly sit well with Durand’s wife. He had told her he’d only ever mount a really big buck — before he shot the 15-point monster last Friday.

“She isn’t too excited about it because we just built a house,” he said with a grin. “I told her if it doesn’t look right, I’ll put it somewhere else.”

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.