An old, wily buck roaming the Tensas Parish woods for the past several years had garnered a reputation both for his elusiveness and his eye-popping set of antlers, which earned him the nickname of Elk Buck.
The rack was of such outlandish proportions that it more resembled one of the monarchs of the Rockies, not the swamps of Tensas.
But on Nov. 27, John Parker, 45, who has hunted the big deer for several seasons, finally had the opportunity to put his crosshairs on the old buck.
Aged at 8 ½ years, his inside spread was finally measured at a jaw-dropping 28 5/8 inches of air.
“I have been seeing this deer and his photos on our family property in Tensas Parish for the past several years. My dad, who is no longer living, was a pilot and had an airstrip on the property. I had my ground blind set up on the airstrip and actually shot the deer within 100 yards from the end of the runway where my dad’s plane usually became airborne,” Parker said.
The day before Thanksgiving, Parker had crawled into his ground blind to wait on a deer, something he hasn’t been able to do much of lately because of his job as a field engineer with National Cash Register Company, which keeps him on the road quite a bit.
“I grew up hunting this area as a kid but moved away. Since I moved back to Cooter Point, which is a small community near Waterproof, I started hunting this spot seriously, especially after realizing there was a buck like this on the property,” Parker said.
As the sun was about to slip beneath the western horizon, Parker saw a deer step out on the far end of the runway, guessing he was about 700 yards away.
“Even at that distance, I could see a massive set of antlers and knew it was a big buck. However, as there wouldn’t be much daylight left and the deer was so far away, I felt my only chance at him was to get out of my blind and see if I could sneak closer. Wearing a leafy suit of camo helped, because I could sneak along the brushy edge without being detected.
“When he lowered his head to eat, I’d move a few steps. When he raised up, I stopped. I was able to get to within 400 or so yards of the buck,” he said.
Luckily, Parker was shooting a rifle he had confidence in. He had fine-tuned and calibrated his H&R single shot .22-250, which is actually a varmint firearm, to where it would hit dead on the target at 250 yards.
“There was another good buck with this one and I had to wait until the two separated. Once they did, I placed the crosshairs on his back and squeezed.
“The buck took off, but I had aligned a pecan tree in back of the deer when I shot so I walked toward the tree to where I thought the deer was standing. I looked off to the side and there he lay,” he said.
The shot was a bit far back but hit the liver, which proved to be lethal. The buck, which tipped the scales at 280 pounds, only traveled about 50 feet before expiring.
Parker took the buck to Simmons Sporting Goods in Bastrop to be entered in the store’s big buck contest. It was scored as an 8-point and measured 164 inches Boone and Crockett, with main beams almost 30 inches each, an inside spread of 28 5/8 inches and an outside spread exceeding 30 inches.
“I’m doing some checking with wildlife folks to see if any buck on record has had this much space between the antlers,” Parker said. “If I had gotten him last year or the year before, I think the buck would have scored over 200 inches.
“He has really gone downhill this year.”
David Moreland, retired deer study leader with LDWF, commented on the unusually large inside spread on Parker’s buck.
”There is probably nothing in the records with that large a spread. In the process of scoring, if the inside spread exceeds the length of the longer main beam, then the length of the longer main beam is entered as the inside spread.
“I think the scoring program considers deer with extremely large inside spread to be a result of damage, but this buck looks like it just grew that.”
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.