On Nov. 23, Chris Hart downed a big 150-inch 11-point buck on Shiloh Hunting Club in Union Parish that he had never, ever seen on camera.
But 25-year-old Corey Eppinette, who also hunts on Shiloh, had been watching the buck Hart shot on his trail cams for two years.
So on Saturday, Dec. 2, Eppinette returned the favor — and shot a big 10-point Hart had his eyes on all season long.
Hart and Eppinette ultimately got each other’s deer, but the bottom line is that Shiloh Hunting Club has some really big bucks.
The club assigns each member three stand tags, and each person is allowed to hunt about 300 acres around the stand he chooses.
On Dec. 2, Eppinette got to his stand around 4 p.m. — later than he would have liked. He didn’t make it that morning, but hurried out to the club for a late afternoon hunt.
“The stand I was hunting is a two-man ladder stand located in open oak woods with no man-made shooting lanes,” he said. “I had trimmed branches so I could see the area where I had placed piles of corn and rice bran.”
As the afternoon wore on, Eppinette said he was watching some turkeys getting ready to fly up to roost when he heard footsteps in the leaves behind him.
“I was concerned because the wind was blowing my scent directly toward where I heard the footsteps,” he said. “ However, whatever it was continued walking with no sign of it winding me.”
At about 65 yards, Eppinette could make out the form of a deer among the oaks walking toward the corn and bran. When he was able to see dark tarsal glands on the back legs of the deer, he knew it was a buck — although thick brush prevented him from getting a good look at the rack.
“I have had images of two good bucks, both of which were fair game for me if they showed up,” Eppinette said. “One was a nice 8-point, while the other was the big 10-point I really wanted a chance at. It really didn’t matter; I was going to try for whichever buck it was I was looking at.”
He had trail camera photos of both deer for the past two or three years, and two years ago the bigger buck had antlers with several points broken off as a result of fighting. Last year, the buck was a big 9-point; this year it was a 10.
“This buck, which appeared rutted down, was not following a doe; he seemed to have his eyes on the corn and bran,” he said. “He was coming strictly to eat. Because it was getting late, when he stepped out, I still wasn’t sure if it was the 8-point or the 10 point.”
When the buck cleared the brush at 65 yards, Eppinette squeezed off a shot with his Mossberg .270, and the buck took off — but Eppinette heard it crash not far away.
“I called my buddy who was hunting nearby, told him I had shot a big buck and he came to help me look,” he said. “Following the direction the deer had run, we found him piled up about 40 yards from where he was shot.
“When my flashlight shined on his rack, I knew this was the big one, and the excitement set in.”
The buck had a symmetrical 10-point rack featuring a 19 5/8-inch inside spread, with main beams 26 inches each and long G2s and 3s, plus 4-inch bases that carried mass throughout the rack.
But the rigors of the rut had taken their toll — the heavy-framed buck only weighed 175 pounds. At TP Outdoors in West Monroe, the rack was scored at 153 inches.