For Paul “Tee Paul” Thevenet, tracking down a big 9-point Atchafalaya Basin buck he’d been pursuing for three years became a full-time job starting this past Dec. 15.
He’d report to “work” at the Attakapas Hunting Club near Butte La Rose and sign-in early before heading off for his daily two-mile boat ride, which was followed up by a three-mile 4-wheeler ride and then a walk through the swamp to reach his stands.
“I was a full-time hunter everyday,” said Thevenet, 56, of Breaux Bridge. “It was so hard to get back there, instead of leaving at lunch and coming to grab a bite to eat, many days I’d just stay. I’d pack a lunch.”
A welder and deepwater crawfisherman by trade, Thevenet said he normally hunts about six weeks a year.
“I fire that company I work for a lot during hunting season,” he said with a laugh. “They say, ‘Whenever you’re ready, just come on back.’”
Freed up from his day job, he would regularly put in 12- to 14-hour days in pursuit of the big buck, which he started seeing on trail cams about three years ago.
“He stayed secluded and he didn’t travel much,” Thevenet said. “He stayed in one area where he bedded down in the swamp. He didn’t travel far for his does.
“He didn’t go over a mile.”
Since he hunts in such a remote area, Thevenet was confident their paths would eventually cross during shooting hours.
“Where he was living, I knew nobody else could probably kill him,” he said. “I almost grew him, you know what I mean?”
Finally, on the afternoon of Jan. 29, when much of south Louisiana was practically shut down in bitter cold and a layer of ice, Thevenet got the chance he had worked so hard for when a doe came out about 40 yards from his lock-on stand about 4:45.
Within minutes, the big buck appeared about 60 yards away on his left side along the edge of some briars.
“She turned away from me and was looking at him,” he said. “I was surprised because usually they turn and run, but she must have been just about ready. She just eyed him and he eyed her, and I didn’t wait too long.
“I took a shot.”
Thevenet fired his .444 muzzleloader, and the buck went down with a loud grunt. But he kept twitching his tail and moving his head, and the hunter’s view was blocked from the stand.
“They had two trees in front me, and he was in the grass and briars, but when his tail flickered, I could see where his tail was and where his head was, and I put a second shot in between there.”
Thevenet waited about five minutes, but the big buck kept moving, so he fired a third time.
He eventually climbed down from his stand and walked in for a closer look. When he got about 15 yards away, the big buck lift his head up one last time.
“I shot him again,” Thevenet said. “I shot him four times, man.
"I messed that backstrap all up, but I wasn’t worried about the meat.”
Finally getting to see the buck in person that he had been watching for years was worth the long hours he put in since mid-December.
“Oh Lord, it was beautiful,” Thevenet said. “I didn’t think he was that massive. I was well-impressed.
“I hollered all the way back to my 4-wheeler.”
The big 9-pointer, which had two additional non-scoreable points, green scored 158 7/8 inches Boone and Crockett, with an 18 1/2-inch inside spread. His main beams were 26 inches long, with five inches of mass all the way to the G4s, and he weighed 177 pounds heavy in the rut.
“I’ve never seen anything like it come out the Basin with that kind of mass,” said Thevenet, who has hunted there since he was 10 and joined the hunting club when he turned 21. “That’s the best one the club’s ever killed.”
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.