A St. Francisville dentist on Oct. 5 arrowed what could be the largest Louisiana non-typical deer to be killed with a bow — and he was hunting pretty much where he works.
"I killed the deer inside the city limits — behind my dentist office," Dr. Frank Sullivan said of the 18-pointer that grossed between 220 and 230 points.
Sullivan said he and buddy Dr. Travis Links, who killed a 190-inch buck last season, couldn't narrow down the score any more than that because of the craziness of the rack, which includes three drop tines and a third main beam.
"I truly don't even know how to score a non-typical like this," Sullivan said. "I tried to be conservative."
The buck, which has 11 points and two main beams on the left side and 7 points on the right, can be officially scored after the rack dries 60 days. Former state Deer Study Leader Dave Moreland saw photos of the massive deer and told Louisiana Sportsman that there's no doubt it will make the Pope & Young record books.
The current state record non-typical bow buck was killed by Vicki Husted in Tensas Parish in 2010 and measured 227 6/8 inches. But Husted's deer, along with the No. 2 buck on the state's all-time Big Game Records, was measured in velvet.
If Sullivan's deer nets north of 206 5/8 inches, it will be the largest non-typical without velvet on the state's record books.
Sullivan said he first saw the buck last year, and he and his plumber's son hunted it hard on properties across the road from each other.
"He shot him the second day of the season last year," Sullivan said.
The shot was not fatal, but the 3-year-old buck's luck was pushed further.
"During the rut, he got hit by the sheriff's granddaughter crossing the road," Sullivan said. "I was watching him 30 minutes before he got hit. I was watching him from the office with some binoculars."
He said it was assumed the deer was dead, but when a deputy went into the ditch to look for the big buck it stood up and walked away.
But Sullivan feared the deer later died from its wounds.
"I assumed he was dead; I even went to look for him," Sullivan said. "Three weeks later, I saw him behind the office."
And then the deer disappeared again.
"I didn't see him again until six weeks ago," the dentist said. "He just showed up."
Sullivan maintains a feeder behind his office and hunts 24 acres adjoining the dental practice that are part of Wyoming Plantation, and he started patterning the deer using game cameras. He knew the deer was using his small property and crossing the road to a much larger area.
"I had him patterened so much," he said. "I check the camera every day at 8 a.m. before I see patients, and I knew that if he stayed at my office after 5 a.m. he was going to bed down before crossing that road."
He hunted last Sunday and Tuesday, but he didn't want to put too much pressure on the little piece of property.
"I had all these rules I would follow," Sullivan said. "I told my wife, 'It's not about what I do right — it's going to be about what I do wrong.' I told her I can live with someone else killing it. I could live with it getting hit by a car.
"But I couldn't live with it if I made a mistake."
But when he checked the cameras yesterday morning (Oct. 5) before work, he saw the deer was still on his property at 5:36 — after the deadline for the buck to cross the road.
"I knew he was bedded down behind my office," Sullivan said.
The die-hard bowhunter spent the day seeing patients, but he planned to hunt that afternoon in hopes of ambushing the buck.
And he started breaking his own rules.
"One of my rules was I'd never go in after 3 o'clock (in the afternoon)," Sullivan said. "I'll always go in the woods at 3 o'clock and wait three hours for everything to settle down."
But yesterday, he hit the woods well after that cut-off.
"I go in there at 4 o'clock and bumped some deer," Sullivan said. "Mistake No. 1."
It wasn't long before another deer eased into his area.
"A doe came in, and coyotes chased it off," Sullivan said. "Mistake No. 2 — I didn't kill the coyotes.
"So I'm just frustrated. I'm thinking about all the bad stuff."
But soon some small bucks fed through, allaying his fears.
Sullivan had some persimmon-flavored Nate's Buck Bait out, and there also were already acorns on the ground.
"My neighbor and I were in like a competition to see who could feed the deer," Sullivan chuckled. "I tried to put out something unique. If you make it, I put it out."
And he said Nate's Buck Bait was like crack cocaine to the deer.
"They wanted that 10:1," Sullivan said. "It's unbelievable how fast they ate it."
So yesterday, he had one deer in the buck bait, and three in the woods sucking up acorns.
"I was looking to my right watching the bucks in the woods, and when I turned and faced straight out (of his stand) the buck just stepped out at 25 yards," the hunter said. "It's the first time I saw him from a stand.
"He had knocked off his velvet the night before. His horns were bloody. They were orange-looking — they were gorgeous."
The massive-racked buck walked from right to left in front of the hunter's concealed stand 25 feet up the tree, offering Sullivan a perfect quartering shot. Sullivan drew his bow as soon as possible and tracked the deer as it walked closer to his stand.
"I was about to let (the arrow) go and something spooked him, and he ran off to the right," Sullivan said. "I had to let the bow back down; all I can see is his legs."
Oddly, the hunt was saved when a 4-year-old 8-point stepped out of the woods into the little opening over which Sullivan was hunting.
"When he walked up, he looked over and saw the big deer," Sullivan said. "Now, the big deer came back."
And walked pretty much right up to the tree in which the hunter sat.
"I made a 25-yard shot," Sullivan said.
The arrow hit perfectly, and the deer streaked away. Sullivan heard it crash.
Sullivan quietly backed out of the woods and let the deer lay for 1 1/2 hours to ensure he didn't bump it if it was wounded.
He needn't worry. When he, Links, buddy David Ray, and Sullivan's wife and her athletic trainer returned and followed the blood trail, they found Sullivan's deer of a lifetime dead.
"I was very, very fortunate," Sullivan said. "He's a baby. He's a 4-year-old, and he acted like a 4-year-old. If he was a 5-year-old, I might not have killed him."