Charlie Lusco spent all day Dec. 1 putting out more than 20 game cameras covering about 3,000 acres on Diamond Island in search of a giant 5-year-old 11-point that topped the property’s 2016-17 hit list.
About 4 p.m., he decided to head to a stand on a pipeline overlooking some cutover so he wouldn’t disrupt any other hunters already positioned in the Madison Parish woods.
And as fate would have it — after a full day of setting up cameras hoping to snap a picture of the wily old buck — the potential state record deer promptly showed up in his shooting lane about one hour later.
“It couldn’t have happened any stranger, because we didn’t know where the deer was at all — no one had a clue. We hadn’t had him on film in at least two weeks,” said Lusco, 53, of Kenner. “So we spend the whole day putting cameras out to find him, and I just went and jumped on a stand on the pipeline so I wouldn’t disturb anybody already in the woods because I was running late.
“And he comes out 200 yards from me.”
Lusco was so shocked to actually see the big deer, that he had to do a double-take.
“I looked at him with my binoculars, and I thought that was him but I couldn’t really ID him. I ranged him right at 200 yards, and I put my gun out the window and I was about to shoot him and then I said, ‘Let me make sure I’m ID’ing this thing right,’ he said. “So I pulled the gun back in, and studied him some more, so I knew he was a shooter buck — I just didn’t know if that was the deer I was after.
“And then I looked at him some more and said, ‘OK, that’s him.’ And I shot him.”
Lusco fired his .270, and the big buck bounded back into woods. Confident in his shot, he waited in the stand until dark, then slipped out and went to dinner, not wanting to push the deer.
He returned with a group of hunters about 9 that night to see if they could locate the buck, but they didn’t have to search very long.
“He didn’t bleed a drop. We actually followed his tracks and walked up on him in about 10 minutes. He only ran about 90 yards,” Lusco said. “The bullet didn’t go through and through — it was a good shot, but it was just a real thick animal. So the bullet didn’t exit, and didn’t drop any blood.”
Getting his hands on the once-in-a-lifetime trophy buck he’d been seeing on camera for three years was awesome.
“Oh God, it was like a big party in the woods,” Lusco said. “Everybody was high-fiving and slamming knuckles.”
The 260-pound heavy-horned buck is a true giant that could become the largest typical whitetail ever taken in the state.
With an inside spread of 21 ⅞ inches, bases approaching 6 inches around an a massive rack that Louisiana deer hunters only dream about, the big buck has been scored three times, coming in at 185 inches, 186 inches at Simmons’ Sporting Goods in Bastrop and 188 inches.
The state record for a gun-killed typical buck is 184 6/8 inches, by Don Broadway in Madison Parish in 1943, so the tape will tell the story after the mandatory 60-day drying period.
In the meantime, Lusco is getting a full-body mount of the giant buck for his lodge on Diamond Island, so everyone who participated in allowing the big buck to mature will get a chance to enjoy it.
“We let him walk for three years. This year, we said, ‘Hey, he’s big enough. He’s an absolute trophy,’” Lusco said. “A lot of other hunters in the club hunted him through bow season, through muzzleloader season, the opening weekend of rifle season and through Thanksgiving, and nobody got him. Everybody hunted him hard with rifles.
“I didn’t do anything special …. It was like divine intervention, or whatever you want to call it.”
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.