As a first-grade teacher at Sterlington Elementary School, Melissa Winkler is accustomed to her students asking her permission for things they want or need to do. The shoe was on the other foot Jan. 2 when Winkler phoned her husband to get his approval before shooting a big buck she was looking at 90 yards away – she had shot a 9-point earlier in the season, and he wanted her to hold off on shooting another buck unless it was larger.

This buck obviously was: From her vantage point, she could count 10 points. With hubby's okay, she shot and downed a huge-racked deer that actually sported 12 points (13 if a broken point was counted).

The buck currently leads the women's division at Simmons Sporting Goods Big Buck Contest with a green score of 161 6/8 Boone & Crockett.

"When my husband and I married 33 years ago, he got me into deer hunting and I've been hunting ever since," Winkler said. "I've killed quite a few deer over the years but nothing like this. In fact, this is the biggest buck anybody on our club has ever taken."

Winkler and her husband hunt on private in Ouachita Parish near Sterlington, and on Jan. 2 they headed to their stands for an afternoon hunt. She was just hoping to be able to take a doe.

"It was cold and windy that day, so my husband gave me a choice of two stands to hunt and I picked the one where the cold wind wouldn't be so bad," she said.

Her stand selection was a good one because she had hardly settled down in the comfort of the box stand when she spotted deer some 200 yards away.

"I looked out the window and saw a small button buck and a larger buck way down the lane; I couldn't tell how big the buck was, but knew he was a nice one," Winkler explained. "The pair moved on off into the woods, and I figured I'd never see them again."

Settling back to wait for a doe, she glanced at her watch — it was 5:15 — and then toward the feeder 90 yards out from the stand. She saw movement and realized it was the little button buck she'd seen earlier.

Her excitement level spiked when she realized the big buck was trailing behind the younger deer.

"I could tell this was a really good buck and started counting points," Winkler said. "When I got to 10, I called my husband to describe what I was looking at and ask his advice as to whether I should shoot or hold off."

However, they had trouble hearing each other.

"The connection was bad, we hung up and he had to call me back," Winkler said. "He asked me several questions about the deer, like how far the deer was from me and if I was sure it had at least 10 points.

"The buck was still standing there when my husband agreed I should take the shot, especially since it was only 90 yards away, telling me to aim for the neck."

Winkler hung up the phone, put the crosshairs of her scope on the deer's neck and squeezed the trigger on her .30-06 auto. The deer took one step, she fired another round and the buck dropped.

The deer weighed 205 pounds, but the rack overshadowed the body. The main beams stretched to 23 inches and were separated by 21 2/8 inches of space, and featured a split G2 on one side.

See more than 350 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 the contest will be eligible to win a set of Nikon Monarch ATB 10x42 binoculars (valued at more than $300) to be given away in a random drawing after the season ends.

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