With a hunter named Zack Buckner, you’d expect nothing less than a quality deer, right?
Well, after watching a heavy-horned buck on camera for about two years, the 39-year-old lived up to his last name when he downed a magnificent Claiborne Parish 13-pointer Sunday morning with a green score in the upper 160s.
“This buck has been running with the same bachelor group of bucks for the past couple of years and this year, but his characteristics drastically changed compared with the other bucks in his group,” said Buckner, who works as superintendent for Peterson Contractors in Homer. “While the others I had on camera put on body size, this buck seemed to have taken all the nutrients to his antlers. I mean his antlers really took off and he had developed into something to behold.”
Buckner is an avid bowhunter, but decided not to hunt this deer with his bow because he could never get a favorable wind, and didn’t want to do anything to arouse suspicion in the big buck.
“I figured the only way I was going to get him would be during the rut when he might let his guard down chasing a doe,” Buckner said. “However, the buck became attracted to a particular type of rice bran I was putting out…strawberry-flavored rice bran. While all the earlier photos from my trail cameras were made at night, I started getting some daylight photos of him with his head down in the rice bran.
“He’d run all the other deer off and he’d just about eat the whole pile.”
On the unseasonably cold morning of Oct. 29, Buckner decided to give his box stand a try, which was positioned within 100 yards of the pile of strawberry-laced rice bran he had set out.
“I got settled into my stand before daylight and as it was starting to get light, I could make out the image of a deer on the rice bran pile. Although there was not enough light to identify the deer, I kept my eye on it until it started to get light,” he said. “I was finally able to make out one side of the rack and thought maybe this was my deer. When the deer raised his head so I could get a good look, I knew for sure it was the big buck I’d been after.
“I got a case of buck fever because I was looking at the buck I never thought I’d get to see before the rut kicks in later. Taking a few deep breaths to settle myself down, I got the crosshairs on my Browning A-Bolt .308 on the shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The buck dropped right there.”
Walking down to the fallen buck, Buckner still wasn’t sure he’d shot the right deer — but the closer he got, the more he was convinced he’d actually shot the stud he was after.
As he suspected, Buckner noted the body size wasn’t tremendous: The buck weighed 185 pounds. However, what he found on the deer’s head nullified any disappointment when he found himself standing over a buck sporting a 10-point mainframe with three kickers. The inside spread was 21 inches, with main beams measuring 25 inches each carrying mass throughout the rack.
The big buck, estimated to be 4 ½ years old, green scored an impressive 164 4/8 inches.