Winter Quarters, a 10,000-acre hunting club situated inside the Mississippi River levee in Tensas Parish, has a rule hunters follow to determine if a buck is mature enough to take: The animal has to have main beams measuring at least 20 inches.

The buck that stepped into Dr. Kenny Cox's crosshairs Nov. 25 easily passed the eyeball test. The brute not only met the 20 inch minimum; it exceeded it by 7 ½ inches on the left and 6 ¾ inches on the right, and has green scored at more than 160 inches Boone & Crockett.

The kill came after a great opening weekend for the Cox family.

"While I didn't score opening weekend, my son shot a nice 140-class 8-point," Cox said. "I had to come back to my dental practice to work Monday and Tuesday, and I returned to the club Wednesday to hunt through the weekend."

That Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the state was experiencing unusually warm weather, with daytime temperatures in the 80s. While others at the camp climbed into deer stands despite the heat, Dr. Cox chose to go fishing instead.

"The fish weren't biting, so around 3 that afternoon, I decided to go sit in a deer stand back in the woods," Cox said. "It was uncomfortable; I was sweating and swatting mosquitoes, and began to wonder if I'd made the right decision."

Everything changed around 4:30 p.m., when the Ruston dentist began seeing deer.

First to make an appearance was a doe and yearling, followed a few minutes later by a small 8-point, the first 8-point buck Cox had seen all season.

"Around 5:10, I started seeing more deer," he said. "Two small bucks came out, and then I spotted a much better deer. I scoped it and saw it was a 7 point that met our club's antler requirements, and I considered taking it.

"However, the buck stayed behind a big tree, never giving me a clear shot until it eventually wandered on back into the woods."

That turned out to be a blessing.

Cox noticed that one of the small bucks that had come out on the lane continued to look back toward the woods. He figured the little buck was looking at another deer, and he was right.

"I saw a buck with a really good rack come through the grass and stop behind the same tree where the 7-point buck had earlier stood," Cox said. "However, he came on out, and I could tell it was a definite shooter, so I dropped the buck with a single shot."

When he walked up to the buck, he was stunned with what he found.

The deer, which weighed 250 pounds, sported eight symmetrical points arrayed around main beams stretching 27 ½ and 26 ¾ inches. The G-2s were over 12 inches long, and the G-3s measured 10 ½ inches each. Inside spread was 19 inches.

"I've been hunting over here for nearly 40 years, and this is by far the most impressive buck I've ever taken," Cox remarked.

Back at the camp, Cox measured the deer at 163 3/8, the taxidermist mounting the deer scored it at just over 164 and Simmons Sporting Goods in Bastrop measured it at 162 6/8 – good enough to lead the 8-point category in Simmons Big Buck Contest this year.

The buck stands as one of the best deer killed on the lease Cox hunts.

"We average taking around 100 antlerless deer a year under the DMAP program, along with about 25 bucks," Cox said. "However, none of our members has ever killed a buck with main beams that long."

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