Lots of hunters spend countless hours and days in the stand without ever seeing hide nor hair of a deer, but Jarred Chatelain had an entirely different kind of problem on a recent hunt in Rapides Parish.
He had settled into his ladder stand on the edge of a clear cut nice and early, when a fellow hunting club member about 300 yards away fired at a deer around 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19.
“He texted me if it sounded like a good shot, but it was hard to tell because he was so close. I couldn’t really hear the double-pop,” Chatelain said. “But I told him if he found blood to let me know, and I’d come down and go help him.”
He did, so Chatelain joined his buddy on the right of way and together they located a nice 8-point with a 16 ½-inch inside spread only 40 yards from where the buck had stood.
Since it was still early, Chatelain decided to keep hunting, and headed to a different stand about 400 yards away to give himself some distance from the noise of the shot and the disturbance created by dragging the dead buck back to the right of way.
“So I take off walking and as soon as I get in front of his box stand, which was only about a 100 yards down from where his deer was, I look up and I see four does and a little 6-point in the right of way that I’m walking on,” he said. “I mean, I’m not a hundred yards from my friend. Immediately I hit the ground because this 6-point is giving one of the does hell. He’s running her in circles — they were going in the woods, coming back in the right of way, back-and-forth, and I hit the ground to figure out what size buck this is.
“I realize it’s a pretty 6-point, but we don’t shoot anything that small. We manage our deer and shoot 8-point or better.”
So Chatelain warily made his way to his tripod without getting busted, dropping into the grass when the buck would emerge from the woods and getting up and trotting to the stand when the deer zig-zagged back in.
As he started climbing into the tripod, another surprise was waiting for him further down the right of way.
“I look to my left and I see an 8-point in my food plot, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ I got a 6-point running does, and an 8-point feeding in my food plot,” Chatelain said. “I could see he was a shooter deer, but I couldn’t put my scope on him to count everything climbing the ladder because I was trying to rush to get in my chair.”
He was finally fully concealed in the tripod, about 75 yards away from the 6-point with the does and 150 yards from the confirmed 8-pointer in the food plot.
“Now I’m worried about my buddy I just left back in his box stand. I’m hoping he’s still there waiting for hogs or taking pictures of his buck and not coming down this old truck road because that’s going to mess me up.”
When he looked back towards the right at his buddy’s stand, that’s when he saw the morning’s final surprise.
“As soon as I look over my right shoulder, 35 yards away, the 15-inch, 13-point palmated buck steps out into the 3-foot grass,” Chatelain said. “I’m thinking he was in the woods watching me when I was sneaking to get to my stand and I guess he might have thought I had just kept going.”
At this point, not far from where his friend had just dropped a nice 8-point less than an hour before, Chatelain was literally surrounded by a total of seven deer: four does, a 6-point, another nice 8-pointer and the palmated buck.
He didn’t realize it then, but his buddy was watching the entire scenario play out through his scope.
“He saw the palmated deer, too, but he already had his buck for the day. So he was watching this buck through his scope trying to figure out what I’m going to do,” Chatelain said. “He can’t even see the 8-point that I was watching in the food plot because it was down in a bottom opposite from his box stand.”
As Chatelain put the palmated buck in the crosshairs of his 35 Whelen, the deer started walking away from him at a hard angle.
“The only shot I had was right in front of the hind quarter in the flank area, or straight in the buttocks of the deer,” he said. “That was the only two places I could have shot.”
He decided to go for the left flank since it was a straight line into the heart and lungs.
“That’s the shot I took even thought it wasn’t the shot I wanted,” Chatelain said. “I shot him, he spun around in a circle twice and hit the ground. He never ran or anything.
“When I walked up to it, it was like, ‘Oh my God. I can’t believe I got this. This is going to look pretty on the wall on the side of a 22-inch 10-point I shot out of the same stand two years ago.'”
The palmated buck, which hasn’t been green-scored, weighed 175 pounds and had a 13-point rack with a 14-inch spread.
“We got my truck and wound up coming out of there with two bucks taken about 35 minutes apart. It was amazing, and getting to watch multiple deer in between all this,” Chatelain said. “It was awesome to get hunting season kicked off that way. It was excellent.”
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.