Jeremy Harding was in the right place at the right time — and looking out the right window of his box stand — when he took down a big 11-point buck on Nov. 1 in Winn Parish.
The Pineville hunter was in his box stand high up on a ridge overlooking an oak flat a few miles north of Montgomery when he heard a commotion down in a creek bottom that Saturday morning about 7:15.
“I thought I heard some noise off to my right. I didn’t know if it was wood ducks diving for acorns or something crossing the creek,” Harding said. “So I hit my bleat call three times, sat back and leaned over in my chair and looked to my left because I had seen some does from that direction about the same time the weekend before.
“I was just scanning and looking and happened to see it. If I would have waited another two or three seconds before I looked down that lane, I probably never would have seen him.”
What Harding saw in the sparse early-morning light deep in the bottom 40 feet below his stand was a wide-bodied buck that quickly crossed one of his 10-foot-wide shooting lanes.
“All I could see was a huge black body. It was still kind of dark down in that oak flat,” he said. “I eased out the window of my shooting house and hit that bleat one time, and about 10 seconds later he stepped back out into the lane about 150 yards down. And the size of his body was what really took my by surprise for the most part.
“When I saw that beam reaching out over his nose, I figured he was a decent shooter.”
The buck was quartering slightly to him, and Harding was tempted to wait to see if the deer would move in closer, but decided to fire his .35 Whelen when he had the chance.
“I just went on ahead and let her rip. I heard him running through the bottom and I heard a crash,” Harding said. “In the direction he took off, he would have either had to crash or cross the creek, and I didn’t hear any water splash, so I knew he was down.”
Harding waited, and then headed down and found faint blood where he made the shot.
“I knew he was down, but didn’t know if he was hit good,” he said. “So I waited about 15 minutes and eased down, and about every 10 or 15 yards I would find a light speck of blood until I got about 40 yards from where I shot him.
“Then I started to find really good blood and that’s when I knew I made a decent hit on him.”
Harding found the big buck minutes later piled up 15 yards from the creek.
“I wanted to scream to the top of my lungs, but Mr. Bucket was hunting so I kept it quiet,” he said, noting another member of the lease was hunting about 350 yards to the south. “I didn’t realize how big he was until I came up on him. He was a beast.
“So I took a picture of him right away and texted it to Mr. Bucket, because he’s been ragging me pretty hard about not killing anything.”
The 11-pointer green scored 139 inches, with about 21-inch main beams and a 19-inch inside spread. Circumference at the bases was 4 7/8 inches, and the big buck tipped the scales at a hefty 240 pounds.
“He was fat. He had about a half-of-an-inch of fat along his back line,” he said. “I had to peel it back after I skinned him down and caped him out. I had to let him dry some so I could peel the fat back enough to see where his muscle lines were so I could pull the backstrap out of him.”
The deer is already at the taxidermist, and Harding said it will hang in a place of honor in his house.
“My wife posted the other day on Facebook something along the lines of, ‘The high point is I got meet in the freezer. The low point is I have another deer head going up in the living room.’”
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.