Ryan Bergeron had seen a big buck on a few trail-cam photos throughout the early season, and he was thinking about the deer on Dec. 28 while sitting in a climbing stand on his West Feliciana Parish lease.

"I hadn't seen any pictures of it in a few weeks, and I was thinking, 'Somebody must have killed him,'" Bergeron said of the buck that had been estimated at 150 to 160 inches Boone & Crockett.

But in the last minutes of the morning hunt, the Lafayette hunter shot the deer – and it has been scored in the mid 170s.

The hunt didn't start very well, however, even though weather conditions were perfect.

Bergeron decided to hunt his brother-in-law's climber from which an 8-point had been killed the weekend before, but when he got there the hunter had trouble even get started with the hunt because of the icy conditions.

"I went to get in the stand, and couldn't get in," he said. "My boots were sliding."

In addition, the stand was older and so small that Bergeron had to leave his backpack on the ground.

And then, once he finally got settled, he dropped the only bottle of water he had.

"I was counting down the time to get down," Bergeron laughed. "I'm used to a nice, big climber, and this was, like, a 1970s rusted-over climber.

"I was waiting for 9 a.m."

He was watching woods that had been cleared, offering a long opening stretching out in front of the stand. He could see easily get a 100-yard shot off, and that's exactly where the buck that had been killed the weekend before was ambushed.

Behind the stand was thicker, so Bergeron ignored that area.

His strategy seemed to be confirmed when a doe slipped across the shooting lane about 7:45.

And then nothing else happened. Bergeron started looking at his watch, counting down the minutes until he could get out of his uncomfortable perch.

"I had plans to do some scouting," he said. "I was like, 8:45, 8:50, 8:55."

Right at 9 a.m., the hunter decided it was time to ease down the tree. But a crunch sounded behind him as he was looking down to grab his hunter-orange vest.

"I didn't think much of it because they have chipmunks and squirrels everywhere up there," Bergeron said.

Then he heard a limb snap.

"I twisted all the way around, and he was right behind me," Bergeron said. "I saw him and turned right back around and said, 'That's him.'"

The big rack had only been seen for a second, but double split G2s gave Bergeron all the evidence he needed.

The deer, munching on acorns, was only 20 yards behind the concealed hunter. Bergeron eased around to get a shot, studiously ignoring the head of the big buck.

"I purposely didn't look at the rack," Bergeron said. "I didn't want to get nervous."

The deer was obscured by thick cover, so Bergeron found a hole about 20 yards away that he could drill a bullet through.

"I had both eyes open," he said. "With one I watched the deer and with the other one I watched through the scope."

The deer obliged and eased the direction of the opening.

As soon as the shoulder hit the opening, Bergeron stopped the buck with a mouth bleat and a shot rang out.

The buck buckled, and raced away. But the satisfying crashing sound of the deer going down drifted quickly drifted through the woods.

To that point, nerves hadn't been an issue for Bergeron. He pulled out his cell phone and called his father, who was hunting nearby. As he told the story, the shakes started.

His second call was his brother-in-law, who didn't believe a word of the story.

"He was like, 'Um hm. When am I supposed to start believing you?'" Bergeron said.

When he finally got down and met his father, the younger Bergeron headed back to the truck to shuck his insulated jumper and meet his father-in-law and brother-in-law.

His dad had located the deer by the time the other hunters showed up, but he waited for Ryan Bergeron before walking up to the buck.

"I get closer and I'm, like, 'Oh, man!'" the younger Bergeron said. "My brother-in-law was, like, 'Holy crap!'"

Holy crap, indeed.

That buck's rack was tremendous, featuring 10 towering typical mainframe points with twin stickers off the G2s. The inside spread surpassed 20 inches, and the G2s were both in the 13-inch range.

The bases were about 5 inches.

"When I walked up, even before I touched him I almost had a tear in my eye," Bergeron said. "We didn't even touch him at first.

"When I finally picked his head up, I was, like, 'This is a big deer!'"

See another photo of the deer in the Nikon Big Buck Photo Contest forum.

He said he was just stunned to have killed the deer.

"I went to Missouri this year to kill a trophy," Bergeron said. "I paid all this money to go to Missouri, and I killed this deer in Louisiana."

See other bucks killed this season – and post photos of your own – in the Nikon Big Buck Photo Contest, which is free to all registered users of this site.

Everyone who enters, no matter how big or small the buck, is eligible for a drawing for a set of Nikon Monarch ATB 10x42 binoculars at the end of the season.

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