Ask Peggy Stovall about her idea of family, and you’ll quickly realize the Athens native believes it’s not just an important thing — it’s the only thing.  

Raised as a hunter, Stovall loved the sport, but her life changed forever when she made her last trip to a deer stand on Nov. 25, 1986. 

 “I had my son, Wade, in 1987 and I always said that I’d never ask anyone to keep my kids for me so that I could hunt, and I never did,” she said.  

More than 27 years later, though, she made a triumphant return to deer hunting earlier this month, and knocked down an impressive 164-inch drop tine buck in Claiborne Parish on Dec. 2.

And although she downed the big deer with one shot, Stovall was actually pressed back into deer stand duty by her husband, Marion. 

He had been hunting a massive mainframe 10-point via trail cam and put in lots of hours on the stand this season in pursuit of the buck, but never connected. 

“Every time he got a picture of the deer it was either late late at night or early in the morning.  He even took two weeks off and saw over 30 different bucks, but didn’t shoot any of them because he was waiting on this one,” Stovall said.  

With his vacation time winding down and the buck still alive, Marion said it was up to her to make sure the deer ended up hanging on their wall — but Peggy thought the idea was preposterous.

“I told him, ‘I haven't shot a gun in over 27 years,’  and he said, ‘Well I’m going to take you and we’re going to shoot a gun,’” she said.

And just like the old expression about riding a bike, Peggy quickly got back into the groove and was plinking the target in a matter of a few shots. 

Finally, on Dec. 2, she made her way to a stand at Leatherman Creek Hunting Club, still unsure of the whole idea. 

Eventually a spike came out, and Stovall watched it through her binoculars.  After a few minutes of spying on the small buck, she decided to put her gun out the window in case the large deer showed up.  

Sure enough, while she was watching the young deer, she glanced to her left and the big 12-pointer was standing only 125 yards away. 

She took careful aim with her .280, and dropped the buck where it stood about 5:05 p.m.

The buck Marion had long-pursued had a 9 2/8-inch drop tine off of its right side, with main beams that stretched out to just more than 24 inches each, with an inside spread of 17 3/8 inches. 

The deer green scored 164 6/8 at Simmons Sporting Goods in Bastrop.

Not too bad for her first shot at a buck in at least 27 years. In that stretch of time, she, Marion, Wade and their daughter Ranelle have experienced some of life’s ups and downs - but they’ve endured the journey together as a family.

“In 1996, Wade had brain surgery and while he was at Children’s in Little Rock, someone came into our house and stole all of our guns,” she said. 

Knowing how much her husband and son loved the outdoors, a decision was made back then that built up 18 year’s worth of good karma - and maybe that’s why she saw the elusive buck on her very first return to the deer stand.

“When we got the insurance money, we replaced my husband’s gun and my son’s gun, but mine didn’t get replaced,” Stovall said. “Some things are just more important than hunting.”

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