You have to hand it to Steve Burnum and his 16-year-old son Leyton for sticking with the mission of downing a big buck they'd known about since 2008. Their persistence in patterning the deer for five hunting seasons finally paid off when Steve put the crosshairs on him late on New Years Eve.

The buck, an 11 point, was rough scored by Burnum at 155 3/8 inches, and was estimated to be 7 ½ years old.

Burnum hunts on a postage stamp-sized piece of land in Winn Parish, not more than 15 acres total.

"I live on five acres north of Calvin in Winn Parish, and I hunt my land as well as a tiny sliver of land a friend allows me to hunt that joins my property," he explained. "Lamar Evans leases 40 acres from Weyerhaeuser Company, and a blacktop road slices off about 10 acres that joins my home property. For the past 12 years, Lamar has allowed me to hunt that sliver while he hunts the 30 acres across the blacktop."

Burnum and his son usually bow hunt, but during the 2008 deer season a buck Burnum judged to be a 3-year-old began showing up on their trail cameras. In order to keep the discovery secret, they nicknamed the deer "Bambi," enabling them to discuss the deer around other hunters without arousing suspicion.

"We put up a box stand on the line between my property and the 10 acres Lamar lets us hunt and started hunting this buck," the elder Burnum said. "We planted a food plot and kept corn and rice bran out to hopefully attract him."

A pattern began developing over the past few seasons that helped Burnum and his son better fine tune their strategy.

"We would seldom see the deer on our cameras until late in the season. After the natural food supply in the woods was depleted, he would begin showing up on our food plot," Burnum said. "Although all the photos we got were made at night, it was obvious he would move to our area where food was available."

This season, true to form, the buck was captured on camera late in the season, and there were photos of the deer two days in a row when he came out in the late afternoon.

Leyton Burnum hunted him Sunday (Dec. 30) but only saw four does.

Burnum, who works as a pharmacist in Winnfield, got off work around 4 p.m. the following day, rushed home to change clothes and climbed into the stand around 4:30. The sky was overcast, rain was forecast and the wind had picked up, indicating a weather change was in the offing.

"I felt like he might move with the impending change in the weather, and even though I had less than an hour to hunt, I was fairly confident that I might finally be able to see this buck that I'd never laid eyes on, although several neighbors had reported seeing him off and on over the past few years," Burnum said.

At 5:15 p.m., Burnum looked down the shooting lane and there stood a deer. He picked up his binoculars to see what it was, realizing he was at last looking at the buck he'd hunted for the past five seasons.

"The characteristically short brow tines and long main beams and G2s were unmistakable," the hunter said. "I'd seen his image on camera many times over the years, and I knew it was him.

"I immediately dropped the binoculars and pick up my rifle in one motion, and got the scope of my .300 Winchester short mag on his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The buck dropped in his tracks."

He felt he had hurried his shot because the buck began trying to get up, regaining his front quarter. Another shot finished the task, and Burnum was soon standing over the buck he'd been after since 2008.

Sporting 11 points, the rack featured 20 7/8 inches of air between the main beams, while those beams stretched to an impressive 24 1/8 inches each. G2s measured some 9 inches each, G3s were over 10 inches each and G4s measured about 4 inches each. The rack was seated on 4-inches bases.

"The deer only weighed 175 pounds, but judging from photos early in the season he easily weighed at least 200 pounds before the rut stressed him out," Burnum said. "After hunting him this many seasons, I can't describe what it felt like to finally get my hands on this buck."

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