After four long years of coming up empty-handed, Donald Alexander had to have started to wonder if he’d ever actually cross paths with a majestic DeSoto Parish buck nicknamed “Crab Claws.”
The 58-year-old Logansport hunter literally had hundreds and hundreds of trail cam pics of the elusive buck dating back to the 2014 season, when it was a mainframe 8 that earned its nickname because of the pincer-like points at the end of its main beams.
“The next year he was a lot larger, and still had his crab claws. He was a mainframe 8 and he was probably about 19 inches wide — he had put on a lot of width,” Alexander said. “The next year, I fed him peanut butter rice bran all the way through the middle of June of that year.
“The next pictures I got of him when he was in hard horns, he was just massive — that was last season when he was at his height.”
But since then, exactly one picture of the buck was snapped during the day — after the season ended this February.
“Every one of them was at night. I put eight cameras out — you can see I was getting obsessed with him,” Alexander said with a chuckle. “I watched him all the way through. On Feb. 6 of this year with the season closed, I had a 6:57 a.m. picture of him when it was just daylight. That was the first daylight picture I had of him last year.”
The buck moved like a ghost, sometimes appearing on Alexander’s trail cams within 30 minutes of him leaving his stand.
“His territory was pretty large. I’ve talked to several other people who knew he was alive and were hunting him, too …. He had me patterned pretty good,” Alexander laughed. “But it worked out. It really did.”
Fast forward to the Sunday before Thanksgiving of this year, Nov. 19. Alexander was running late getting to his box stand overlooking a 50-foot-wide pipeline cut through a mixture of hardwood timber and pine. As he got settled in, he noticed what he suspected might be a big doe in the lane to his south, but the deer eased into the woods before good light arrived.
Then, about 6:20, without any warning or fanfare, Crab Claws inexplicably stepped out into the lane and headed for a pile of rice bran just 100 yards away from Alexander.
“I knew it was him. I’ve killed a lot of deer and have a lot of trophies on the wall, but this was the first time I saw him and I was shook up,” he said, recounting his case of pre-shot buck fever. “I thought I had it behind his shoulder, and he fell when I shot him.
“But when I got down there to him, I realized I had hit him in the neck — so I was lucky.”
Alexander took a few minutes to compose himself in the stand, then headed down to finally put his hands on a buck he’d come to admire and respect over the years.
“It was very emotional. It was to the point where I just couldn’t believe it. I was beside myself knowing that I had the opportunity —No. 1 — to hunt an animal like that the year before and hunt him again this year; and then to actually see him for the first time and take him, it was unexplainable …. I got down there, took pictures of him, petted him and even laid down beside him.
“I looked at it as a major blessing. It’s not something that I deserve, it’s just something I consider as an honor to have had that opportunity to hunt him and actually get to take him. It’s just a privilege and an honor.”
And Crab Claw’s rack was well worth the wait.
The big non-typical buck, which tipped the scales at 229 pounds and was estimated to be 7 ½ years old, had a 19-point non-typical rack with a 23 ½-inch inside spread and 5-inch-plus bases.
A certified Safari Club International scorer measured 199 ⅛ inches of impressive bone.
“I actually think he was headed to bed down that morning from the photos of him I looked at the night before. He had prowled all night, so I figured he was headed to bed down that morning,” said Alexander, who noted the rut at that point was just about to kick in. “It was like this year he was really homesteaded there on my property. I had more pictures on more cameras this year than I did last year.”
With four years of wondering about the big buck’s whereabouts behind him, Alexander now knows exactly where Crab Claws will reside for the rest of his days.
“He’ll have his own place of honor here in my den,” he said.