Shortly after joining a 500-acre hunting lease in Bienville Parish, Ray Cooper went on an early-season scouting trip last summer and jumped a heavy-horned 9-point still in velvet along a pipeline.
Cooper, 29, of Minden, saw the buck again from 100 yards in October while trimming limbs from his bow stand prepping for rifle season.
Then on the afternoon of Nov. 12, shortly after shooting a hog around 4:30, Cooper crossed paths with the big deer for a third time on the lease, which is located not too far from Bienville.
“About 5:20, the buck came across the pipeline in a ditch, but all I could see was antlers. I couldn’t even see his ears,” Cooper said. “I knew he was a good deer when I saw him over the summer, but when I saw him on Nov. 12 and actually watched him with my scope, I was like, ‘Good Lord, look at what we have crossing here.”
Cooper’s box stand overlooks the pipeline, which runs uphill through thick 5-year-old cutover. He returned on Nov. 14, and dragged doe urine the length of the pipeline to the top of the hill, then used an old logging road to return down to his stand.
About 4:30, a 4-point came down the pipeline trailing the doe urine.
“He came down the hill toward me to about 230 yards and turned like he was going into the cutover, then bolted across the line and disappeared,” Cooper said.
At 5:30, the big buck Cooper had seen three times before finally presented him with a shot.
“I had just looked up the line and then looked down at my phone to see what time it was because I’m very strict on shooting one before shooting light ends,” he said. “When I looked back up, he was standing in the center of the line smelling where I walked with doe urine.”
Cooper quickly sighted in his .300 Short Mag from 150 yards, and squeezed the trigger.
“I knew I hit him because it broke both front shoulders and he hit the ground,” he said. “He ran about 30 yards off the pipeline.”
Cooper went up to investigate, and found blood. So he went down to his truck to put his gun up so that it wouldn’t get scratched, then returned to start crawling through thick briars to recover the buck.
His adrenaline kicked in when he got an up-close look at the rack.
“It really hit me after I found him — it was unreal,” he said. “I’m not a very big guy — average size — but when I grabbed that deer you would have never thought he weighed 240 pounds when I got him out of the woods.
“I was carrying him like a chihuahua.”
There was a lot of bone to be excited about — the big 9-point had a 19 ⅞-inch inside spread, with 6-inch bases. The 240-pound buck, estimated to be 5 ½ years old, green-scored 163 4/8 inches at Simmons’ Sporting Goods in Bastrop.
Cooper, who does taxidermy work as a hobby and part-time job, recently completed mounting the big buck. He and his wife of 10 years, Tiffany, compromised on a wall in the living room where he displays his deer.
The big 9-point will be his sixth — and biggest — mount to go up.
“She told me, ‘This wall is your’s,’” Cooper said with a grin. “‘Do as you please.’”
Don't forget to enter photos of your bucks in the Nikon Big Buck Photo Contest to be eligible for monthly giveaways and the random drawing for Nikon optics at the end of the contest.
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.