"I was sitting in my box stand overlooking a shooting lane where I had a tripod feeder set up," Long said. "I saw three does hurry across the lane at about 100 yards.
"I looked to the edge of the lane and there he stood."
Buck fever apparently got the best of him.
"I guess I was pretty nervous because I remember having trouble keeping my gun still. I shot and he hauled it out of there," Long said.
A search of the area revealed no evidence of a hit. Dejected, he left the woods hoping that his shot was a clean miss and that the buck had mistaken the blast from Long's Ruger .308 with the thunder occurring in the area at the time.
Adding to his excitement was the fact that he didn't recognize the big deer.
"This was a buck that had never appeared on any of my trail cameras," Long said. "I'd seen plenty of other bucks on camera but not this one until one morning in mid-November when he showed up on my shooting lane."
He hunted the stand off an on for the two more weeks without seeing any evidence of the big deer, keeping an eye out for any buzzards circling that may indicate the deer had been wounded.
That perseverance paid off Nov. 22.
"I was back in my stand giving it another try," Long said. "There was a slight breeze moving things around, and I noticed what I first thought was a cypress weed swaying in the wind.
"Something about that didn't look just right, so I got my scope up and realized it was no weed – it was a deer. I first thought it was a doe until I saw antlers – big antlers."
The buck was standing practically under Long's tripod feeder, offering him a broadside shot at 70 yards. He squeezed the trigger, and the buck bolted and was gone.
"I know you're supposed to wait awhile after shooting a deer that runs off, but five minutes was all I could stand," Long said. "I went down to the feeder, began looking and found nothing, no evidence of blood or hair. I even checked the legs on my feeder to be sure I hadn't shot one of them.
"I started getting down on myself for having missed a huge buck two times in two weeks."
But not wanting to give up, Long began a slow and careful search of the area, finding not a shred of evidence that the buck had been hit.
"I walked and searched the direction the deer had run, coming upon a 4-wheeler trail I use to walk to my stand," he said. "I looked to the left – nothing.
"I looked to my right and there he lay. No words can describe my excitement when I saw what I had."
What he had was eye-popping, indeed. The buck, which tipped the scales at 210 pounds, sported 14 points, with the most-impressive characteristic being 24 inches of air between the racks' main beams.
Long took his buck to Simmons Sporting Goods in Bastrop, where it was green scored at 183 4/8 inches Boone & Crockett, good enough to put Long – at this writing – in second place in both the men's and the largest-in-Louisiana categories.
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