Zac Bethea’s long-lost duck call worked like a charm again last week, and he has a trophy mount to prove it.
But Bethea, 20, wasn’t calling in a flock of ducks to a blind in a hardwood bottom, and his trophy wasn’t a woodie drake or a big mallard.
He used the old duck call his Dad found last week to imitate a bleating doe, and ended up knocking down an awesome 10-point Sabine Parish buck from his tripod stand in Converse.
It all started last Thursday morning, Nov. 10, when his Dad shot a doe from that same tripod and found an old duck call on the ground as he was leaving.
“He said he just got out of the tripod and looked down on the ground and it was laying there,” Bethea said. “I was like, ‘Dang Dad, that’s my duck call from about two years ago. I’ve been looking all over the house for that thing.’
“He just gave it to me and said, ‘If you blow it just right, it’ll sound like a doe bleating.’”
So Bethea returned to the same tripod that afternoon armed with his Remington 30-06 and his duck call.
“I started blowing it around 4, and I didn’t stop ‘til about 5:15,” he said. “I’d blow it for ten minutes, stop for ten minutes, then I’d blow it for ten minutes. I was just messing around with it.”
The key, Bethea says, is to blow very softly.
“If you just barely blow into it, it sounds like a doe,” he said. “I was just barely hitting it, because if you blow too hard, it sounds like a mallard duck.”
Action was slow early on the tripod, which overlooks a cutover with three-year-old, 15-foot-tall pine trees and a single lane leading to a feeder about 45 yards away.
About 4:30, he called his Dad and said he was thinking about moving to a box stand nearby, but ultimately decided against it.
“About ten minutes after I stopped blowing, I heard something walking up and I figured it was probably a doe coming to eat my corn,” Bethea said.
To his surprise, the big buck walked out about 40 yards away.
“I could hear him coming through the pine trees,” he said. “Maybe he was looking for a doe to chase around. I guess he heard that duck call and got curious.
“I was not expecting a big deer like that to come out.”
Bethea said he was shaking on his first shot, which cracked the big buck’s spine and dropped him on the spot. He shot him again in the butt to make sure he didn’t run off, then came down from the tripod to check him out up close.
“I walked up to him and he was still alive so I shot him again in the lung area,” he said. “I walked away for about 15 minutes and called Daddy and told him I had a big buck.”
Now out of bullets, Bethea returned to the deer and poked him with his rifle.
“He didn’t budge,” Bethea said. “I was like, ‘Well alright, he’s dead.’ So I walked around to grab his horns and he started to attack me. He came after me and I ran.
“He stood up and ran after me and horned my arm, and I fell on the ground. He moved about five yards with three shots in him, then he finally fell back over.”
The deer weighed 203 pounds, with a 20-inch spread and 5 inches of mass at the base of both horns. Bethea has not had the buck green scored yet.
His Dad arrived and supplied him with the final bullet necessary to take down the big buck, and the story of the duck call that brought down a 10-pointer was finally over.
“That’s the first time I ever tried that,” said Bethea, who actually used the call a few years ago on a successful duck hunt. “I’m going to definitely use it again because we’re in the middle of the rut and bucks are chasing does.
“I’ve got a bunch of duck calls, but not one that sounds like a deer.”
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.