Essie Maricle has had not one, but both, knees replaced. However, surgery hasn’t slowed her down a bit — especially when it comes to deer hunting.

“I had a knee replaced last December,” said Maricle, 63,  who retired from the Allen Parish School Board. “A month later, I was in my climbing stand and killed a deer with my muzzleloader.”

She and her husband live near Reeves in Allen Parish, and they have hunted what was known as the Red River Wildlife Management Area since 1972.

Red River and Three Rivers have recently been combined into the Richard K. Yancey WMA. The Maricles prefer to hunt in one particular portion of the area, which is located in Concordia Parish. 

“For the past 44 years, we have made our hunting trips to this area, something we do every Thanksgiving week. We are always there for the primitive firearms season as well as the bucks only season,” she said. “We just love this area, and have friends who live nearby in the village of Acme where we keep our camper during deer season.

“On Nov. 26, my husband and I were hunting the area. He chose to walk deep into the area while I had to stay near the trail designed for handicapped because I can’t walk that far after having the both knees replaced. I hung my climbing stand just off the trail in an area, and scooted up a tree 15 to 20 feet above ground. I am familiar with this area because I have hunted this same spot for the past three years.”

Since this is a public WMA, Maricle and her husband obviously don’t have exclusive use of the area. On that morning, she watched two hunters walk out in front of her stand, dragging a doe one of them had shot. Moments later, two other hunters walked across behind her stand.

“I figured things were not going my way so I decided I had nothing to lose since my husband wouldn’t be here to pick me up until 10:30,” she said. “So I decided to sit back, relax and use the Primos Can bleat call while I waited for him.”

She started using the can call around 9 that morning, activating the call every few minutes.

“At 10, I glanced to my left and saw a big deer coming out of a clear cut,” she said. “I figured it was probably a doe because with all the pressure, surely a mature buck wouldn’t be coming out of the clear cut at this time of day. It would likely be going in to bed down.”

Watching the deer for a few seconds, she finally got a glimpse of antlers but at first, she had no idea of the size of the buck.

“He stepped into a clearing, I got on him with my 7mm Express and pressed the trigger. Nothing happened — I had forgotten to take it off safety,” she said. “I flipped off the safety, shot the buck and he took off. I could tell I’d hit the deer because he dipped down in the front end like he’d been hit.”

The first thing she did after shooting the buck was to call her husband, who was already on his way with a friend.

“We started looking and found two little drops of blood. We spread out and soon, my husband’s friend reported he’d found the deer,” she said. “He said at first, ‘It’s a doe.’ I told him no way — I’d shot a buck. And the friend confessed, ‘It’s a wall hanger.’

“When I walked up on the deer, I started screaming and hollering and praising the Lord. He was much more impressive than I thought he was when I shot.”

The buck was indeed impressive. Sporting eight points, the massive rack was later scored at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ station at 148 4/8 inches. The inside spread was a whopping 22 inches, and the big bruiser tipped the scales at 240 pounds. 

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.