When you get on your stand before daylight without eating any breakfast, there’s a good chance you could get hungry in an hour or so, especially if you’re a 7-year-old boy.
That’s the situation Ryon Walker, 38, found himself tending to on Saturday, Nov. 30 while hunting with his son, Caleb, on a 100-acre pine-forest plot in Claiborne Parish.
“Caleb got hungry and I put him off as long as I could because all I had was Wheat Thins, and to reach for and handle those crispy snacks would likely create noise that could spook any deer in the area.
“I finally gave in to Caleb’s protests, and as I reached for the Wheat Thins in my pack, I saw something in the brush near the feeder that didn’t look right. It was a deer looking directly at us,” he said.
Walker whispered to his son that he was seeing a deer but Caleb scoffed at his dad. After all, they’d hunted this particular tract of land for the past two years and had seen exactly one deer, a doe last season.
“When the deer took a couple of steps from the brush and started eating corn around the feeder which sat 80 yards from our ladder stand, Caleb’s eyes got as big as saucers when he saw the rack,” he said.
Walker, an assistant professor specializing in beef cattle research at the Hill Farm Research Station at the LSU AgCenter in Homer, whispered to Caleb to cover his ears and get ready for the shot.
“I should have told Caleb to ease his hands to his ears because when he covered them, he jerked his hands up and the buck stopped feeding and looked directly at us. I knew I had to take the shot because he was about to take off,” Walker said.
The buck was facing them almost dead on, slightly quartering and not giving Walker a broadside target. But because the buck was on high alert, the hunter felt he needed to do something immediately. He centered the crosshairs of his 7 mm mag in the center of his chest, touched the trigger and the buck dropped in his tracks.
“Caleb and I sat in the stand with our binoculars for a few minutes just admiring the big buck there on the ground. I didn’t know how big he was but I could see antlers sticking up really high above his head even at that distance. When we got down and walked up to him, it was like he just kept getting bigger and bigger,” Walker said.
The buck was indeed a dandy. It sported a main frame 10-point rack with an extra sticker, officially making it an 11-point buck. The inside spread was 18 inches, with main beams stretching to near 25 inches each. The G-2s were impressive, with one measuring 12 inches and the other a saber-like 14 inches. Bases were almost 5 inches each.
“I didn’t have access to scales but I estimate the deer’s weight at around 200 pounds. I checked his jaw bone and teeth and determined the buck was probably either 5 ½ or 6 ½ years old. I put the tape on him and unofficially, I came up with a score of 172 inches,” Walker said.
After the big buck went down, we have it on good information that Caleb was free to eat the snack crackers as loudly as he pleased.
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.