Curiosity killed the cat … and maybe a big buck, too.

Jonathon Zell, 29, of Dry Prong, had watched some does bed down on a ridge 80 yards from his perch 35 feet high in a Grant Parish pine on the Kisatchie National Forest. With his curiosity peaked, he decided to reach for his grunt call Monday morning.

“I just wanted to see what the does might do when they heard the grunt,” said Zell, who works for Union Pacific Railroad. “Sure enough, they got up and began making their way toward me. 

“As I watched them, I heard a big racket in the thicket behind me and out stepped this big buck.”

Prior to the buck showing itself, Zell had hiked three-quarters of a mile back into Kisatchie with the intent of getting away from pressure and beating other hunters to the spot he wanted to hunt.

“I have hunted here for the past several years and decided to hang my Summit Viper climbing stand about 80 yards from where I’d shot a 148-inch 10-point back in 2014,” he said. “I’d never hunted this tree, but I liked the view it gave me of the area.”

The Kisatchie National Forest is a massive chunk of real estate covering some 604,000 acres of seven Central and North Louisiana parishes. The area Zell chose to hang his stand features mature pines and thick underbrush where three drains converge.

“I got on the stand at daylight and saw the first doe under the tree where I usually hang my stand. Between then and 10, I had seen five more does working their way along, feeding on white oak acorns,” Zell said. “When that big buck charged out of the thicket as I hit my grunt call, I saw that if he kept coming the direction he was headed, he’d end up right under the tree I was in, (and) he’d smell me and the game would be over. 

“That’s when I decided to slip my PSE Carbon Air bow off the hanger and get ready.”

Suddenly, the buck came to a complete halt right on the trail Zell used to walk in.

“I knew it was now or never and I had only a few seconds to shoot. He was standing at full alert at 20 yards on a steep angle from my 35-foot-high perch,” he said. “I released the VIP arrow tipped with a Rage Trypan broadhead and hit him between the shoulder blades. 

“He ran about 20 yards, bouncing off trees and fell. I saw him kick a couple of times and I recalled having a big 8-point I once shot get up and run after being down, so I put another arrow in him and finished him off.”

The 220-pound public lands buck was a dandy, sporting 12 points and a 17-inch inside spread, with main beams exceeding 25 inches. Brow tines were each 6 ½ inches long, with the G2s pushed 12 inches. 

Zell’s taxidermist green-scored the rack at 168 5/8 inches.