Shane Ezell had been patiently hunting a small tract of land in Grant Parish since the opening day of bow season, but had never even laid eyes on a deer until the morning of Nov. 29, when he and his daughter saw a small buck.

He returned alone that afternoon pumped up about finally seeing a deer, and positioned his climber about 40 feet up an oak tree overlooking a wooded trail bordering a large field. 

Months of perseverance and patience were finally rewarded when a couple of does stepped out within shooting range a few minutes after 5 p.m. 

“It was starting to get dark on me, and I was watching and I told myself, ‘I’m not leaving here without any deer meat,’” he said. “So I put the scope on the doe at 175 (yards) and was taking up the slack in the trigger.

“And then he stepped in my scope. He stopped me,” Ezell said. “I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s another deer.”

Further down the trail, he could just make out a big-bodied deer through the settling haze, and the 34-year-old welder for Hayes Manufacturing in Pineville repositioned himself for a potential shot on a big buck he never expected to take.

“He’s very symmetrical and at 200 yards, he just looked like a big mainframe 8, 10 or 12 — just a big typical deer,”  Ezell said. “All I could see was horns. I didn’t know what I had.”

He waited about five minutes as the buck chased the does back and forth between the edge of the field and the trail in the woods.

“One doe took him almost out of sight, and I figured that was it and he wasn’t going to come back,” Ezell said. “Then, she darted back around and came back, and when she did, he came back around behind her.

“When he stopped, I busted him.”

He fired his .308, the big buck dropped in his tracks and Ezell was moments away from being rewarded for not giving up on the little piece of property he had hunted about 15 times this season without ever seeing a deer.

“When he fell, he fell belly to me and I was losing light fast. So by the time I got down and got to him, I had to have a flashlight,” he said. “And I really didn’t see what it was until I walked around him and hit him with that light. 

“And I was like, ‘Oh. My. God.’ I just froze and then went to calling people like crazy.”

The 4 ½-year-old 200 pounder was a true beast, and has proven to be a beast to measure, as well.

Ezell has received four different scores for the buck, ranging from 192 2/8 to 201 5/8 inches. And scorers can’t even agree on the number of points present: He’s received score sheets counting 23, 24 and 25 points on the rack.

But the hunter understands the confusion. He tried counting points when he walked up on the buck and didn’t have much success, either.

“My first instinct was counting them,” he said.” I went to trying to count and I counted like five times and every time I counted, I’d come up with something different or I’d lose count and start over. 

“I was shaking at that point, most definitely.”

It turns out, the buck had been seen on trail cams on a different piece of property about 4 miles away, but Ezell doesn’t use cameras.

“I had no clue this deer even existed because me and my friend hadn’t talked in several years,” he said. “I didn’t even find out he was hunting him until I killed him.”

Don't forget to enter photos of your bucks in the Nikon Big Buck Photo Contest to be eligible for monthly giveaways and the random drawing for Nikon Monarch binoculars at the end of the contest.

Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here