When a hunter is on a deer stand, the presence of noisy squirrels can sometimes be a big distraction.
But in the case of Natchitoches hunter Bill Fair, a tree rat caused him to get his gun in position because he sensed the squirrel had been disturbed by the big buck he was after.
“I hunt north of Natchitoches on family land and on Dec. 4, I let a big buck get past me. It was late afternoon and I was hunting with my scoped rifle when the buck appeared behind me and because it was so late and he was so close, I couldn’t find him in my scope,” Fair said. “I vowed to try a different approach the next chance I had to hunt, which was Sunday afternoon, Dec. 18.
"Instead of packing my rifle, I decided to take my Remington 870 pump shotgun, which I loaded with 3-inch 00 buckshot.”
Fair hunts on his dad’s 340-acre plot of land in Natchitoches Parish north of town, which is basically timber managed for pine production.
“Since I had seen the deer late in the afternoon, I had a good idea of where he was bedded up in a thicket near my stand, so I was in no hurry to climb into my stand,” he said. “I got in and settled down around 4 that cold and windy afternoon.”
As the afternoon progressed, Fair huddled against the chill and decided to increase his chances at attracting the big buck that had given him the slip just two weeks before.
“I decided to try my bleat can as well as my grunt call. At around 4:15, I began using use the can and following it up with my grunt call, hoping to simulate a mature buck chasing an estrous doe,” he said. “I hit the calls about every 15 minutes for the next hour and at 5:15 after using the calls, I heard a cat squirrel just going crazy, chattering and squealing.
“I had the feeling the squirrel had seen something, so I reached for my shotgun and got ready just in case it was the buck.”
The squirrel had the buck pinpointed because moments after hearing the excited chatter, Fair saw a big set of antlers only 25 yards away coming through the brush.
“The buck finally moved up a few feet into an opening, I got a bead on him and shot. The deer bolted and headed back into the brush,” he said. “The only light I had with me was the flashlight app on my cellphone, so I climbed down and went to look for evidence of a hit.
“I noticed after the deer took off that his tail was down, so I felt I’d made a good hit.”
When he got to the spot where the deer was standing, Fair searched the area and could find no evidence of a hit so he started searching the direction the deer had run using only the light on his cellphone.
“All of a sudden, I got to smelling the strong odor of a rutting buck,” he said. “I looked over and 3 yards in front of me, there he was,” Fair said.
The buck sported an awesome rack consisting of 16 points with a 21-inch spread, but the rigors of the rut had reduced its weight to a mere 160 pounds.
Simmons Sporting Goods in Bastrop measured the buck at a whopping 171 2/8 inches of antler mass.
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.