Conner Gay, a sophomore at Louisiana Tech, lives in Ruston and is fortunate to have access to 100 acres of family property in Lincoln Parish to pursue his passion for deer hunting.

On the morning of Saturday Nov. 25, the land belonging to his grandmother paid off in spades when a heavy-antlered buck stopped to work what would prove to be its last scrape.

At 75 yards, Gay’s Remington .270 dropped the big deer where it stood, collapsing it onto the scrape it was working.

“This family land is the only place I like to deer hunt because the woods are so nice with a creek bottom with big stands of hardwoods,” Gay said. “For the past several trips to the property, I had been getting to my stand later than I wanted to but on this morning, I made sure I got there early so if anything moved early I wouldn’t miss it.”

His favorite stand is an old but sturdy metal ladder stand that has been used by the family for decades. He moved it to its present location about five years ago, and because of the location it’s his go-to place to hunt.

“The stand sits on a ridge line where I can look out through the hardwoods, giving me a good view of any activity going on in the area. I’ve killed a few deer sitting on the stand at the location where it sits today,” Gay said. “There is a huge beech tree next to the stand, and I had always dreamed of being able to have a photo made of me and a big buck next to that big beech.”

Sitting in the dark waiting for daylight, Gay heard a crashing noise he couldn’t immediately identify. About 20 minutes later, he heard what sounded like a grunt.

“I texted my dad, telling him what I’d heard and dad said, ‘It’s probably a buck so get ready.’ I got my gun up and was looking in the direction of the sounds I’d heard when I heard footsteps in the dry leaves,” Gay recounted. “It was not good daylight yet when I got a glimpse of the deer, walking with its head down. I let him walk a little further and he stopped broadside to me over a fresh scrape. 

“I still couldn’t tell much about the deer except that it was a good buck. I made the decision that even though I couldn’t see the deer too well, I had a clear shot so I took it and he dropped right there.”

Then he had to endure the longest 10 minutes of his life, resisting the urge to immediately head down and check out the big deer.

“I sent a text to my dad telling I had a buck down and kept checking the time on my phone  — and when 10 minutes were finally up, I climbed down and hurried over to the fallen deer,” he said. “When I saw the massive antlers, I texted my mom that I’d just killed a monster buck.”

Although the body weight of the buck -165 pounds - didn’t match the heft of the rack, Gay had indeed dropped a genuine trophy — a buck that had never been seen nor showed up on trail cameras on the property.

The buck sported 11 points on a gnarled rack. Its inside spread was 19 7/8 inches, and the main beams were over 22 inches each with 5-inch bases. The buck was green-scored by a family friend who is adept at measuring antlers and tallied 164 inches of bone. 

“When my dad got there,” Gay said, “I was finally able to live the dream of having a photo of me with a big buck next to that old beech tree.”