In today’s fast-paced, high-tech, non-stop world, every once in a while doing things the “old-timey” way still pays off.
That’s how Kacey Lopez Meshell, of Noble, described her family’s approach to life, as well as to hunting big deer near her small hometown in Sabine Parish.
“I’m thankful for my parents, because we still do it the old-school way,” Meshell said. “You find the track, go in there, put your climber, put your ladder and put your box up and you hunt the deer by it’s track. That’s what we’ve always done.”
Family members skin and process all their own deer, usually racking up 3- to 400 pounds of sausage each year, along with lots and lots of roasts and backstrap. They even have their very own smokehouse.
Her dad, Joseph ‘Buckeye’ Lopez, is well known in the area as a lethal hunter, and she’d put her mom up against anyone.
“She’s killed bigger bucks than most men,” Meshell said. “There’s five mounts in the living room, and three are hers.”
But, despite being raised in a rabid deer-hunting family and spending plenty of cold mornings in the stand with her father as far back as she can remember, the 31-year-old special education employee at Converse High School had never actually killed a deer of her own.
In fact, she was the only one of her six siblings to not bring a deer back to the family home for processing.
But that all changed on Sunday morning, Nov. 23 at the Old Camp Hunting Club in Converse, where most of her family are members - and those who aren’t actual family seem like they are.
She would finally get her deer - but not just any deer.
It would be one well-deserved after such a long wait, a big buck that would create a special moment that father and daughter will never, ever forget.
It was cold and rainy, and the forecast calling for clearing by 5 a.m. didn’t materialize as her mom and her two daughters, her husband and son, and she and her dad headed to their stands around 5:15 a.m. in a steady drizzle.
“We went as a whole family that morning,” she said. “That’s why I think it was really the perfect day. It couldn’t have happened any other way.
“And the deal was to get me to kill a deer.”
But the morning was awfully slow, and several hours in the only thing Meshell had seen was four rabbits.
That all changed shortly after 11, when she saw a doe flash through the bottom 130 yards away where the lane in front of her ground-level box stand dead-ended.
“After I saw her run through, I took my gun and used the scope to scope out the edge of the timber line and I was just looking for her,” Meshell said. “Because I was going to shoot her if I could find her.
“I scanned the woods with my scope five or six times on the edge of that lane, but I never did see anything.”
No sooner had she eased her gun back into the box than she saw a big deer’s legs coming out of the brush on the left side of the lane, about 110 yards away.
“Whenever he got broadside and the sun shined on his horns, I said, ‘This is my daddy’s buck he’s been hunting,'" she said. "Those were my exact words.”
The big buck had been on her dad’s hit list for four years, but was a slick old deer. The buck moved at night and kept one step ahead of hunters as they relocated stands, and only showed up during the rut before quickly disappearing again.
“My parents have always taught us kids, ‘If you see horns, you forget about them. Don’t you put them in your scope, because you’ll mess up.’ And that kind of stuck with me that morning,” she said. “Once I saw him, I had to forget about them.
“Whenever I put my safety to full fire , I don’t know if he heard it or what, but he just turned broadside and looked me dead in the eye, and that’s when I pulled the trigger.”
The buck wheeled to the left and headed for the bottom, and Meshell expected the worst.
“I thought I missed him, I’m not going to lie to you,” she said with a laugh. “I’ve been missing deer for four years. My heart was beating so fast, I won’t dare deny my excitement.
“I was really nervous, because I did not want to miss that deer.”
She headed down to the bottom, got on her hands and knees and saw the big buck piled up just yards from where the round from her Ruger .308 punctured both of the big deer’s lungs.
When her dad made his way to the bottom, tears flowed and hugs were freely exchanged.
“Nothing will ever compare to how proud I made him that day. That’s no lie,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of things in my life that he can smile about, but that right there was like the sealed package. I had made him proud.
“He said, ‘Oh my Lord, Kacey. Do you realize what you’ve done?' He was crying. He said, ‘This is what it’s all about, right here.’ He held my hands through the woods and pulled me to the buck. I was balling. It was just awesome.”
So was the buck. The big 11-point green-scored 147 6/8 inches, with a 19 ½-inch inside spread and 5-inch bases.
“This is a dream come true for me. I told one of the teachers today at school, ‘All these celebrities want to be on Vogue or Marie Claire and this and that,” Meshell said. “All I ever wanted to do was kill a big deer and get in the (Louisiana Sportsman) magazine.”
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.