An elusive 12-point had been seen on lots of trail cams at the Bear Creek Hunting Club in Livingston Parish, but never — not even once — during the day.

So when Ian Bankston headed out for a post-holiday hunt on the afternoon of Jan. 2 near Holden, he was more focused on the possibility of encountering a big 10-point he’d been seeing lately on his cameras.

“We had gotten shots of this 10-point, and me and my son were looking at the pictures at lunchtime, but he had to go to another Christmas party with his aunt, so I told him I was going to his stand,” said Bankston, 44.

He headed out to the climber after a quick thunderstorm and positioned himself 15 feet up in a gum tree overlooking a deer trail and a canal between two thickets.

The canal had flooded, and the ankle-deep water he’d encountered heading in alerted the hunter to a deer’s presence shortly after 5 p.m.

“I could hear him stepping in all that water that had flooded,” Bankston said. “So when I turned and looked all I could see was his legs. I didn’t know what it was so I got ready just in case, then I got a glimpse of his horns.

“I thought it was the deer we had on camera.”

Bankston sighted in his 7 Mag from only 45 yards, and the big buck went down instantly.

“He dropped, and I was still thinking it was the 10-point,” Bankston said. “I never really looked back at him.

“I sent a text to my son to pick on him, saying ‘I got him.’ And he texted me back saying I was lying, and that I had to send pictures. So when I got down to get a picture of him, that’s when I realized.”

What Bankston realized was he hadn’t shot the 10 he was expecting. He had in fact downed the big 12 — a buck that his son Nathaniel had nicknamed “Axe.”

“It was a shock,” Bankston said about his initial encounter with the heavy-horned buck. “A 125 to 130 is about the max our club has ever killed. So when I walked up on this deer, I was pleasantly surprised.”

The mainframe 10-point with split brow tines was a brute, with an 18-inch inside spread and 6-inch bases. The deer weighed-in at 211 pounds, and was estimated to be 5 years old.

The big buck green-scored an impressive 158 6/8 inches, and is now the club record holder at Bear Creek. 

News of the big buck going down prompted Nathaniel, 18, to leave that Christmas party early.

“He got up and walked in and told his mom, ‘Mom, sorry, but I got to go,’” Bankston said. “He was a little jealous, but he was happy. That’s the biggest deer I’ve ever killed by a long shot.”

Bear Creek members had pictures of the deer last season on the 13,000-acre club, and were concerned for the animal during August’s historic floods that swept through the property.

“We’d wondered if he’d vanished with the flood through here,” he said. “This whole area flooded really bad. We were expecting a bad year, but it really hasn’t been too bad.”

Bankston, who works for Rubicon Chemical in Geismar, said he’s got the perfect place in mind to display the awesome 12-point mount.

“He’s going to sit on the wall looking down on my son’s 130-class mount from Kansas,” Bankston said with a chuckle.

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.