If you’ve ever read a murder mystery novel by Patricia Cornwell, you know they’re hard to put down.
But it’s even harder to put down a heavy-antlered 8-point with his nose to the ground moving non-stop across your shooting lane.
Fortunately for Karen Miller, she accomplished both tasks on Nov. 20 during an afternoon hunt in southern Natchitoches Parish near Cloutierville.
Miller, who co-owns M&M Pharmacy in Natchitoches, climbed into her ladder stand about 2:30 that Thursday to hunt on her day off, and was reading a Cornwell novel during what was a quiet hunt — until the big buck appeared close to 5 p.m.
“I think I had just put my book down and told my husband, ‘I don’t hear anything but birds,’ and I mean it was maybe one minute after I sent him that text when I heard the buck,” she said.
Miller was hunting over a shooting lane in a hardwood bottom, and she heard the deer to her left before she ever saw it.
“I heard him and looked over there and saw him immediately. He was moving quick,” she said. “So I went ahead and took my gun off safety, and all I did was point my gun down the lane because I knew he was going to cross.
“When he came out, he kept his head down the whole time so I think he was probably sniffing something. He never let up. He was moving quick. I think he had one thing on his mind.”
The lovestruck buck was only 30 yards from Miller, and although he was walking steadily, he presented her with a perfect broadside shot — but she was dealing with issues of her own.
Her husband, Keith, had borrowed her gun the day before, and turned the scope’s magnification all the way up. But this buck was close, and she had a hard time seeing much of anything.
“I saw his horns come through the scope, and when I saw the horns, I just lowered the gun a little bit and and shot,” she said. “That was the best I could do. It was actually a pretty good shot.”
Her 7mm-08 found the mark, and the big buck jumped up and headed into the brush to the right of the shooting lane. Miller listened as only the second deer she’s ever shot crashed in the woods.
“I didn’t have time to think much about it,” she said. “I really don’t get nervous. I get excited, but my husband always tells me, ‘Never rush your shot and make sure you stay as calm as you possibly can - try not to get excited.’
“In this instance, it happened fast because he was moving fast, so I was just trying to concentrate.”
She texted Keith after the shot, and headed down to where the big buck had taken off.
“When I got there, there was not an ounce of blood, hair or anything,” she said. “And I thought, ‘There’s no way I missed. No way.’
“I never saw any blood and neither did my husband. But I could smell it. That’s the only way I knew where it was - it wasn’t that I had blood or anything to track.”
The 8-pointer green-scored 140 inches B&C, with a 19 1/2-inch inside spread and 5 inches of mass at the bases. The deer weighed 214 pounds, and was estimated to be 3 1/2 years old.
Last December, Miller shot her first-ever buck, another 8-point, from the same stand on their lease, which borders the levee of the Red River. Two nice bucks in two seasons has Miller, 44, wanting even more.
“Every time we go, and I say, ‘I didn’t see anything,’ Keith is like, ‘Karen, you don’t understand. That big 8-point is a once in a lifetime deer. There are people who hunt their whole lives and don’t kill a deer that big.’”
For now, the big buck is at the taxidermist, and will soon join her other 8-pointer on the wall at home.
“My husband said it’s very unfair, because I never let him put anything in my house, and now we’re going to have two deer that I killed in the house,” she said with a laugh. “All of his are at the office.”
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.