This year, 31-year-old Joseph Bourque decided to get a little more serious about his deer hunting.
Instead of borrowing a gun like he did in the past, he purchased a Savage .270, brought it to the range, sighted it in and practiced with it. He also bought new hunting clothes and accessories to better prepare himself for trips to his brothers’ lease in Rapides Parish near Pitkin.
He was hoping his luck would change: in the three to four years since he had taken up deer hunting more seriously, he had never once seen a deer from the stand.
“I thought I was doing everything right, but the more and more I hunted and wasn’t seeing anything, I was starting to think that I was the problem,” said Bourque, a mechanical engineer in the oil and gas industry who calls Youngsville home. “But it just so happened that I was never in the right place at the right time.”
The “right time” turned out to be Oct. 27 about 8:50 a.m. on a cool, breezy Sunday morning. After more than three hours in a ladder stand without seeing anything but squirrels and rabbits, a steady drizzle started to fall that had Bourque thinking about making a move for cover.
“At 8:45 I told myself, ‘I’m going to get out of this stand at 9, go to the box stand about 400 yards away and get out of the weather.’ Five minutes later, I’m taking pictures very quietly of the shooting lanes to show my wife and as soon as I put my phone down, I looked left and there’s a doe about 120 yards away in the shooting lane.”
Eager to finally take a shot after waiting for several years to even see a deer, Bourque went into action.
“I had replayed what to do a thousand times prior, so I grabbed my gun, flipped my dust covers open on the scope and picked up, but she was no longer in the clearing. She was in the woods and I didn’t have a shot,” he said. “But I was happy just to have seen her, and relieved that I was doing things right - I’m covering my scent, not making noise and not moving around too much.
“But at the same time, I’m kind of disappointed because I didn’t get a shot on her.”
He continued to look through his scope to see if she was feeding along the edge of the woods about 100 yards from him, when another deer appeared about 30 seconds later.
“All I could see were the white tips on two horns, so I originally thought it was a 4-point,” Bourque said. “I’m pretty sure if I had seen the horns and the size, I may not have even made a good shot on him.”
With his rifle already positioned, Bourque lined up the kill shot right behind the deer’s front shoulder and fired. The buck ran back the way it came, and he heard it crash in the woods about 10 seconds later.
After a long 45-minute wait, his brothers came to meet him, and although they initially couldn’t find one drop of blood at the site, they found an increasing blood trail about 10 feet into the woods.
One of his brothers was the first to lay eyes on the big buck as he made his way through a thicket of thorn bushes.
“He started freaking out and said, ‘Brother, what did you kill?’ And I’m thinking the negative side of it, that I shot a little 80-pound spike.
“When I walked through the briars, lo and behold a 191-pound 9-point was laying on the ground, and my knees started clattering and all I could do was thank God that I made a good shot on that awesome deer.”
The big buck, estimated to be about 5 years old, had an inside spread of 18 ½ inches, with a 127-inch green score.
And instantly for Bourque, all those years without ever seeing a deer were forgotten, and all the time and money he invested in preparing to hunt this year was worthwhile.
“I catch the Outdoor Channel, and I think I almost pushed my wife to the brink watching all those deer hunting shows leading up to this hunt, so I made an agreement with her,” Bourque said. “Since I shot the deer, I won’t watch any more deer hunting shows for about two weeks.”
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.