For the past five years, Michael Stutson and his dad have taken the management their 300 acres near Harrisonburg in Catahoula Parish pretty seriously.
Shooting plenty of does and letting small bucks walk finally paid off on on Dec. 10 when Stutson got the drop on a big 11-point buck that tipped the scales at 215 pounds.
“My dad and I decided to see if we could grow some quality deer on our property so we started planting food plots year round – we have probably 15 acres of our 300 acres in food plots,” Stutson said. “Most are a combination of wheat, clover and oats.”
On that Friday morning, Stutson crawled into his box stand and watched some does and small bucks feed on the food plot and feeder — but saw nothing he was willing to shoot.
“We are growing some good deer on our place and our game cameras have verified it, especially over the past three years. The first two years after we started our management plan, we saw very few decent bucks,” he said. “However, for the past three years, they have started showing up and we’ve been seeing 14 to 15 good bucks on our property.”
Stutson, who works off-shore with Halliburton Oil Company, decided to hunt the same stand that afternoon so he dropped a friend off at another stand and got into his box around 3:45.
“Pretty soon after I got in my stand, I started seeing some does and watched a couple of small 4-point bucks start fighting out on the food plot I was watching,” he said. “They finally moved on and I saw two does off to my left when I heard a deer walking in the water to my right.”
The remains of some old catfish ponds sit adjacent to Stutson’s stand, and he and his dad allowed the area to grow up in thickets around the ponds to give deer cover.
“I directed my attention over to my right where I heard the deer walking and started seeing the tips of his antlers as he walked along through the brush,” Stutson noted. “I started to get my gun out the window when I realized the window where I was seeing the deer was the only one I hadn’t opened.
“The deer got behind some brush and I eased the window open and got my .270 Short Mag out the window. When he stepped into an opening about 100 yards from me, I got it on his shoulder and squeezed off a shot. I didn’t see which way he ran because of the muzzle blast and recoil, but I felt I had made a good shot.”
Stutson drove over and picked up his friend and the search began. He was somewhat concerned because he couldn't find blood or any evidence of a hit, but it would have been difficult to locate because the deer had been standing in shallow water.
“We spread out and started looking where we thought the deer may have left the water. About 40 minutes after we started looking, my friend found blood and located the deer 50 yards from the water,” he said.
The buck was a dandy, sporting 11 points with heavy mass and an inside spread of 18 ½ inches. Bases were 5 inches each, with main beams exceeding 20 inches. The buck measured 153 4/8 inches.
This is the first buck Stutson has shot there in two years, and is the biggest one he has ever taken on the property — no doubt a product of the sound management plan the Stutson’s have implemented.
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.