The winter of 2016-17 may well go down in history as just a two-day event, with the weekend of Jan. 7 and 8 featuring bone-chilling cold while above average temperatures dominated the rest of the season.
Jeffery Cutts, a Roy O. Martin Timber Co. train operator, applied for and received a lottery hunt that frigid weekend at Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge.
Despite temperatures in the teens, the 42-year-old was able to get a shot at and down the only deer he saw that weekend —a big 8-point buck that measured just shy of 150 inches.
“Four of us — my father-in-law, brother-in-law, a friend and I — were all drawn for the lottery hunt, so we drove from Boyce where we live the hour and 20 minutes to the Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge in Avoyelles Parish,” Cutts explained.
When Cutts got to where he planned to hunt, he had to break ice in the sloughs surrounding the area. But that was just the start of his problems.
“I had to use a lighter to thaw the lock on my climbing stand but when I got on it, the bottom portion was frozen solid, so I had to sit on the ground to hunt,” he said.
Cutts didn’t see anything that morning from the ground and by noon, his stand had thawed sufficiently so that he could use it. But he saw no deer.
“We drove home and returned the next morning and it was still bone-chilling cold,” he said. “However, I was able to climb a tree with my stand, but the only thing I saw was some hogs.
“By noon, the other three had given up and gone home but I wanted to give it one more try. At 12 noon, I went back to my stand.”
Cutts had positioned himself looking at a ridge between two sloughs. On either side of the two sloughs were thickets where he believed any deer in the area might be bedded down.
“I’m looking to my right when I caught movement down the ridge and realized I was looking at a big buck working a scrape,” he said. “All I could see at first was a mass of antlers and when he turned broadside in an opening at 80 yards, I pulled the trigger on my .35 Whelen.
“He ran just 10 yards before toppling over.”
The big deer was a heavyweight, tipping the scales at the check station at a hefty 230 pounds. The symmetrical rack sported 8 massive points with a 22 4/8-inch inside spread, and the buck was measured at 149 inches.
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.