And the Baton Rouge hunter had to wait more than an hour with the deer in his vision before finally getting a shot of the brute while hunting on the 6,000-acre Somerset Hunting Club in Tensas Parish.
"In October, I got a trail cam photo of a buck that really grabbed my attention, and I knew from the moment I looked at that photo that he was the only one I would hunt this season," Gaiennie said.
His job with Seismic Exchange headquartered in Houston allows for a flexible work schedule, and Gaiennie allotted the entire month of December to hunt the buck. For 19 straight days, he sat in his stand hoping for a chance at the buck that had so captivated his attention.
"I had bow-hunted him earlier, but as December rolled around I knew I'd be extremely lucky to get a chance at him, so I felt it was in my best interest to lay the bow aside and pick up my rifle," he said.
Arriving at his stand site around 3 p.m. on Dec. 18 for an afternoon hunt, Gaiennie had scarcely settled into his Millennium lock-on stand when a doe stepped out into a clearing at around 80 yards. Almost immediately, he heard a buck grunt several times in the thicket behind the doe.
Through binoculars, Gaiennie made out the white throat patch of the buck and, as the buck turned his head slightly, the headgear the hunter saw confirmed that this was the buck he'd hunted every day for nearly three weeks.
"The buck just stood there watching the doe out in front of me," Gaiennie said. "Ever so often he'd grunt, but made no effort to head toward her. I watched him make two scrapes and rub a fairly large tree, but he stayed in the thicket.
"Then I heard another deer approach the buck from behind him and he took off; I thought the game was over."
For several minutes, Gaiennie listened to but was unable to see a spirited buck fight that took place just out of his line of sight.
"I was hopeful the buck might return to check out his doe because she was just standing there looking and listening to the fight," he explained. "Eventually, the buck returned, but stopped again in the thicket. The doe jumped back into some cattails and, finally, the buck took a step forward enough to give me a small window between two trees of his shoulder.
"I squeezed the trigger on my Remington 7mm Mag, and at the shot both the doe and buck took off into the thicket,and I had no idea if I'd hit or missed."
The buck and doe headed across a chest-deep slough and stopped before exiting the water, presenting Gaiennie with another shot.
"I squeezed the trigger and saw water splashing up around the deer, and I assumed I'd missed him again," the hunter said. "They ran into the woods but stopped, and I could make out his rack and shoulder, so I fired again.
"Then all was silent, and I'm starting to really get down on myself at hunting the buck for so long, getting the chance at him and missing him three times."
After waiting what had to have been an agonizing 20 minutes before exiting his stand, Gaiennie found no evidence of a hit where the buck was initially standing. So he waded across the slough and, after exiting the other side, his level of optimism skyrocketed when he saw a significant amount of blood on a cypress knee.
Looking out through the woods where he had made his last shot, Gaiennie saw the buck piled up.
Giving the buck the once-over, Gaiennie was pleased to see that all three shots had connected.
"He was a tough old buck, probably 6 ½ or 7 ½ years old," he said.
But what impressed the hunter most was the mass of the deer's antlers.
"Of all the trail cam photos I had of him, none of them did justice to how impressive he was when I was finally able to get my hands on that massive set of antlers," Gaiennie said.
The rack was sported 11 points, a 16 ⅞-inch inside spread, 6-inch bases, main beams over 24 inches with G3s and G4s both topping 10 inches long. The buck sported roughly 45 inches of mass alone.
TP Outdoors in West Monroe scored the buck at 171 1/8 inches Boone & Crockett.
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