In Disney’s “The Lion King,” the chief of the lion pride was a stately monarch named “Mufasa.”
There also was a big buck hanging around Adam Ponder’s 200-acre Jackson Parish hunting lease that was tabbed as the dominant one on the property, so a club member nicknamed it after the big lion.
Trail cameras revealed Mufasa was a 150-inch 11-point last season when a hunter on a neighboring lease shot — but was unable to recover — the big buck.
“We assumed he was dead because there were no more photos of him the rest of the season and on into this hunting season,” Ponder said. “However, we were excited when he showed up on one of our cameras on Dec. 1. It was obvious he had not only survived the superficial neck wound from last season, he had grown significantly.
“Then on Dec. 22, we got a second photo of him.”
Ponder, who lives in Quitman and works in the oil field industry, planned a hunt on the Weyerhaeuser lease with his wife on the afternoon of Dec. 28.
“My wife picked me up at work, brought my hunting clothes and we drove to the hunting club near Vernon in Jackson parish,” he said. “I got my wife set up in a box stand and I continued on down the edge of the woods packing my climbing stand until I found a tree that gave me a good look at the 10-acre clear cut that bordered the pine plantation.”
Climbing some 20 feet up a big pine, Ponder was able to see into the 3-year-old clear cut, as well as the pine woods behind him.
He normally bowhunts, but decided that afternoon to take a rifle — a Browning .270 he had borrowed from a friend because the scope on his own rifle was messed up.
“Every once in a while, I would hit my grunt call a couple of times and watch and listen. Along about 5:15, I hit the call again and shortly afterwards, I heard something coming at a trot through the woods behind me,” Ponder said. “It sounded just like a coyote does when it trots along, and that’s what I assumed it was. Instead of a coyote, I saw legs of a deer and then I saw antlers, so I knew it was a buck — and when he cleared some bushes, I got a better view of the rack and knew it was a good buck.”
With heavy brush obscuring his view, he looked ahead of the deer and saw a tiny opening. Fortunately, the buck stopped there, giving Ponder a view of its shoulder. He touched the trigger at 30 yards and the buck took off.
“I could see him run for a ways, then he suddenly flipped over and hit the ground and didn’t move again,” Ponder said. “I called my wife and a hunting buddy and told them I’d shot a good buck. It took me nearly 10 minutes to calm my nerves enough to climb down the tree.
“When I got halfway to the downed buck, I could see the antlers and knew it was Mufasa.”
The buck, which was rutted down and weighed 175 pounds, sported a heavy rack with 14 points and bases between 6 and 7 inches each. The main beams stretched more than 23 inches with tall G2s and G3s. The inside spread was only 14 inches, but heavy mass and tine length gave the buck an impressive green score of 171 inches.
Adding to his special week, Ponder bowhunted with friends on Tensas National Wildlife Refuge on Dec. 30, and ended the year with a nice 7-point buck.