Casey Brewer parlayed an October squirrel hunting trip on Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge — when he did a little deer scouting as well — into the public lands buck of a lifetime after downing a heavy-horned 10-point on Nov. 25.

“Earlier in the year, I was out squirrel hunting with my .22 Mag wanting to shoot a hog, and I ran into the area and saw some good sign, so I decided to go back,” said Brewer, 37, who noted he shot the big buck in Madison Parish. “There were lots of acorns, and you tell deer were traveling through there.”

Brewer, of Rayville, had been selected in the refuge’s first lottery gun hunt for this season, which took place Nov. 25 and 26, and set himself up in a climber overlooking the dried up flat shortly after 6 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving. 

“It was windy, like 8 to 10 mph early in the morning, and it slowly slacked off,” Brewer said. “I didn’t see anything until almost 9 o’clock, when I heard a bunch of noise over in a thicket. I thought it was a bear, and I was like, ‘Doggone, I guess I’m going to have to get down and leave.’”

But when he stood up in his climber to stretch just moments later, he realized all that racket he heard wasn’t a bear at all.

“All of a sudden, I saw a big body deer with horns,” he said. “I was like, ‘Holy cow, that’s a nice buck.’”

Not wasting any time, Brewer grabbed his .30-06, fired and promptly dropped the big buck where it stood 75 yards away.

“I didn’t even get nervous doing it,” he said. “I just saw a deer with horns and pulled the trigger, and it fell right down.”

After he climbed down and walked up on the buck, the significance of what had just happened finally hit him.

“That’s when I got nervous,” he said. “I was like, ‘Holy lord.’ It was a bigger deer than I thought with body weight, too.”

He didn’t know it at the time, but his day was about to get a whole lot more strenuous.

Brewer walked back to a friend’s camp located on private property within the refuge, then returned with a deer cart — more than a mile round trip.

After loading up the 260-pound deer, he headed back out — but one wheel on his old cart collapsed.

“I went about 50 yards, and that sucker broke on me. The spokes on one of the wheels busted out so it wouldn’t roll,” he said. “It was a helluva of day for the rest of the day. Nobody could come help me because they didn’t have a permit for the lottery hunt, so it took me all day to get out. I got back to the property line about 6:45 p.m.”

Brewer was forced to just drag the buck out by hand, but it was well worth it: The big deer’s rack featured an 18 ½-inch inside spread with 6-inch bases, and green-scored 155 ⅜ inches at Simmons’ Sporting Goods in Bastrop. The buck was estimated to be 5 ½ years old. 

“It didn’t feel like it at the time, but now it’s well worth it,” he said. “It’s the buck of a lifetime on public land.”

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.