After a couple of slow hunts at Big Lake Wildlife Management Area last Friday, Camille Hollis considered changing things up and moving his climber to a different spot on Saturday morning, Nov. 29.
He and a group of friends were making their annual Thanksgiving weekend hunt at the WMA located in Franklin, Madison and Tensas Parishes, and the Kenner hunter hadn’t seen any signs of deer after two hunts on Day 1.
“I was going to move, but I decided to stick it out one more morning,” Hollis said. “Good thing I did.”
Good thing, indeed.
His patience was rewarded quickly Saturday when a heavy-horned 8-pointer came out of a thicket 80 yards directly in front of him about 6:50 a.m.
“I saw him come through the brush and I knew it was a deer, but I wasn’t sure how big it was. I saw some horns, but I thought it was just a cow-horned spike,” he said. "Then he stopped between two trees and he was looking right at me.”
Hollis, who was 15-feet up in his Summit climber, was ready with his Browning 7 Mag and didn’t give the big buck time to make a move.
“As soon as I saw him moving through the brush, I grabbed my gun, hit the safety and I was waiting,” he said. “I already had him in my scope. I even told myself, ‘Pull the trigger or you’re going to lose whatever this is.’
“And I just squeezed the trigger and he hit the ground.”
But the buck fell in some water in the hardwood bottom, and trees obscured Hollis’ view so he couldn’t tell how big the deer really was.
He didn’t want to disturb anyone’s hunt, so he waited 45 agonizing minutes until he simply couldn’t take the suspense anymore.
“It was killing me not knowing what it was. It was driving me crazy because I knew it was a buck, I just didn’t know how big it was. I went to go see and I liked to pass out,” he said. “When I walked up to it, the left side of the horns was sticking out of the water, and I was like, ‘Oh my god!’
“And when I picked it up, I must have said ‘Oh my God!’ 20 times.”
The public-land stud, which was aged at 4 ½ years old, weighed 230 pounds and was green-scored at 138 inches by a biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The big rack featured 25-inch main beams, with an 18-inch inside spread and 5 inches of mass at the bases.
The 8-pointer served as a measure of redemption for Hollis, who had a big-racked buck in his sights about four years ago but was unable to make himself take the shot.
“You know, they talk about buck fever,” he said. “I didn’t believe it, but it’s definitely true. I watched that deer through my scope but I couldn’t squeeze the trigger. And that was going through my mind with this 8-point.
“I said, ‘Dude, look at the buck, don’t look at the rack.’ But it actually helped me out because this deer was behind the trees and I couldn’t see the rack real well.”
So his decision to hunt the same area one more time paid off, and Hollis now has a great public-land 8-pointer to prove it.
“Just going back to the camp and having everybody gather around and congratulate you, and ask you how it happened and what you were going through,” he said. “It was exciting. He’ll sure look good on the wall.”
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.