Brandon Harrell purchased a brand new deer cart Saturday morning, then got to use it in style that same afternoon when he landed a nice 12-point public-land buck on Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge.

The 26-year-old from Marksville had shot and killed a 4-point the day before, and lugged that 175-pounder out to his four-wheeler by himself. That deer crashed into the woods and lost one main beam, making it a two-pointer.

“After dragging that two-point the day before, I was like, ‘Man, there’s no way I’m doing this again,’” he said.

It’s a good thing he had the cart Saturday afternoon around 5:45 when the 220-pound buck started loudly working his way through a thicket across an old abandoned road. Harrell had positioned himself about 50 yards away with his back to the Red River.

“When I saw him in the thicket, he was tearing up some trees making a bunch of noise,” he said. “At first I thought it was a bunch of hogs coming through because he was really going at it on a tree. I could see the tree shaking, then he started coming out and I saw his horns.”

That’s right about when Harrell also started shaking.

“I was freaking out,” he said. “I was nervous the whole time. As soon as I saw him coming through the woods, I picked up my crossbow and I kind of put my sights on him while he was still in the thicket.

“As soon as he came through the thicket and stepped out on the road and stopped, that’s when I took my shot.”

The Grim Reaper broadhead found its mark, and the big buck ran a short distance, made a U-turn and then went down.

“My dad was hunting with me further down the road and he helped me take him out,” Harrell said. “He actually saw the deer when it stepped out on the road. It was too far for him to get a shot on, but he saw when the arrow went through the deer.”

When Harrell left the refuge that evening with the big buck, he completed his check-out card indicating he had taken down a 13-pointer. But upon closer inspection, Harrell said one tine didn’t measure up, so he’s calling the buck a 12-pointer.

“Yesterday the game warden from Lake Ophelia called and said they were going through the check-in and check-out cards and they had seen I had written down a 13-point. They said they didn’t know if someone was messing with them or what.

“Usually when a deer that big is killed, they said they know about it, but they hadn’t seen that one. They said that was the biggest one taken out of Lake Ophelia so far.”

A welder for Union Tank Car in Alexandria, Harrell said the 12-pointer’s rack was more tall than wide, and featured about a 14-inch spread. His taxidermist said the big buck rough-scored about 125 inches Pope and Young.

“That’s the third deer I’ve ever killed,” he said. “Everybody’s saying I’m going to have a tough time beating that one.”

Don't forget to enter photos of your bucks in the Nikon Big Buck Photo Contest to be eligible for monthly giveaways and the random drawing for Nikon Monarch binoculars at the end of the contest.

Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.