Gary Hoof had taken a nice 8-point buck with his first buck tag. A couple of days later, when what he thought was a doe stepped out, Hoof downed it — but found out he had actually shot a small spike, using up his last buck tag.

If he wanted to take another buck, the 56-year-old hunter would have to use his remaining “either sex” tag — and he very was particular about the deer on which he’d hang it.

“I had hunted my stand on family property in north Claiborne Parish on Sunday and watched a pretty nice 8-point walk out,” Hoof said. “However, with the rut kicking in, I didn’t want to use my last tag on him, so I let him walk.”

Monday morning, Nov. 13, he was back on his stand and watched several does come out to the feeder he had placed on a shooting lane. Climbing down late morning, he walked down to Sugar Creek 200 yards away, and put out some estrus urine.

“I caught a glimpse of two bucks across the creek and felt the scent of the urine had their interest, so I made plans to leave the woods and return that afternoon hoping a buck worthy of my ‘either sex’ tag might step out,” he said. 

The family land consists of some 300 acres of timber, with Sugar Creek running through it. The timber hadn’t been thinned for several years and had grown up thick, making some ideal habitat for a big buck to hang out.

“I got back into my box stand around 3:45 that afternoon and as it started to get late, I began thinking about gathering my gear and climbing down when a doe walked out of the thicket onto my shooting lane,” Hoof said. “When she looked back the way she had come, I got my Remington .30-06 bolt action in the window so I’d be ready if a buck was following her. I didn’t have to wait but a few seconds when this big buck stepped out at 45 yards.”

Hoof fired, and the buck took off the way it came and headed for Sugar Creek.

“I knew I had hit the deer by the way he acted; I could tell he was hit pretty good, but I was disappointed he didn’t drop in his tracks,” he said. “Since it was getting close to dark, I got down pretty quick and headed the way I’d seen the deer run. Then I heard him get up and run again. He only ran a short way before stopping again.”

So Hoof backed out and called his friends to come help him. As they began the search, they heard the buck get up and once more head for the creek.

“When we got there with our lights, we found the deer in the creek and he’d already died,” Hoof said. “However, we knew we’d have a pretty big job getting him up the steep bank. 

“Using some rope, they helped me haul the big buck out.”

Hoof took the big buck to Simmons’ Sporting Goods in Bastrop the next day, where it was entered into the Big Buck Contest as a 13-point and measured 163 1/8 inches of antler. 

With 19 inches of inside spread, the main beams were measured at 22 inches on one side and a whopping 29 inches on the other, with circumference at the bases 5 inches each. Although the deer wasn’t weighed, Hoof estimated its weight at more than  200 pounds.