To many, St. Tammany Parish is an ever-expanding collection of suburban towns that serve as a launching point to the metropolitan hubs of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. But there was a time not too long ago when the parish was overwhelmingly rural, and hunting was commonplace in all corners of the north shore.

Bubby Keen recently sent a reminder to the hunting community that St. Tammany, at least in some spots, is still formidable ground when the 21-year-old St. Tammany Parish sheriff's deputy bagged a 9-point deer near the Abita Springs and Talisheek areas in the central part of the parish on Dec. 12 that was nothing short of a stud.

The deer, which measured at 160 inches, had a left-side main beam that was 27 inches long with a right beam that missed that mark by only an inch. Both G3s measured 13 inches, with the G2s coming in at approximately 11 inches.

The huge buck also had an 18 ½-inch inside spread and 5 ½ inch bases. The deer also had two kickers that weren't totaled into the final score. The 215-pound buck was aged at 6 ½ years old.

According to the Louisiana Big Game Records, Keen's buck could be the biggest deer to be killed in St. Tammany Parish if the score holds. A 157 ⅜-inch non-typical killed in 1991 currently holds that distinction.

The deer will hold the top spot in the typical category, since the green score is almost 20 inches more than the 136 3/8-inch deer that currently holds the honor.

The potential of making a parish-record kill is not lost on Keen, who said he has been hunting on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain for as long as he can remember.

"I've been hunting all my life," he said. "I limit out every year with three bucks and three does. A deer that scores 160 is a trophy anywhere in the United States. But to kill it in my hometown, in my parish? That's just incredible. I'm ecstatic."

The kill occurred on a 4,000-acre private lease Keen hunts with eight others. He said the area is managed for quality deer, meaning that no buck with less than 8 points will be harvested there.

Keen recalled that on the particular day he shot the massive buck, temperatures hovered in the 30s at times and there was a lot of activity on the ground.

"I finally had some young bucks chasing some does," he said. "I saw a spike, a 6(-point), a 7 and two 8s before I saw my deer. They all cleared out when he showed up.

"When they ran off, it was about 5 in the evening, and he started out onto the field."

Keen had seen the buck in numerous trail camera pictures, so he automatically knew this was the same deer he had hoped to encounter firsthand.

"I shot him so fast," Keen said. "I hit him toward the back (from about 150 yards with a .280 New England Arms rifle.) He ran off, and I only found one spot of blood and one spot of hair.

"We let him sit for a little while, and then we let a dog out and the dog went straight to him. When we found him (about 7 p.m.,) I didn't want to touch him. I didn't think it was real."

It wasn't a dream, of course, and now Keen has a story to share for a lifetime.

"This one was probably 50 inches bigger than anything I've ever killed before," he said. "I've killed 8-points, sure, that may have gone 110 inches. When I shot this one, I called my dad and I could hardly talk. He thought I had fallen out of a stand or something.

"I was just speechless."

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