Mike Waters started rattling for big bucks last year with some success, and decided to employ the same tactic when he hunted an old cutover near Coushatta in Red River Parish on the cold, cloudy afternoon of Dec. 29.

“I was rattling every 30 minutes,” said Waters, 34, of Natchitoches. “I raattled at 4, 4:30 and 5. At 5 o’clock on the money, a half-rack 6-point came out and was running toward me. He stopped about 30 yards from me, and he turned and trotted off, stomping his feet at me.

“I almost took him, but I didn’t.”

That proved to be a wise decision when, about 30 minutes later, a big 11-point buck stepped out of the timber line alongside a creek 80 yards from Waters’ stand.  

“It was getting dark, but I could see with my eyes he had a helluva rack on him,” he said. “When I put the scope on him, I couldn’t believe how big he was. 

“I almost panicked - I was breathing pretty good there. After I pulled the trigger, that’s when I really started shaking. I knew how big he was, and I was actually trembling.”

He fired his Browning BLR .270 Short Mag, and the big deer bolted across the creek and ran into a thicket.

“I heard him tearing up the bushes in there, and I knew I hit him,” Waters said. “But I didn’t know how good I hit him.”

He headed down and looked for blood or hair where the buck had stood, but found nothing.

“When he jumped the creek and landed on the other side, that’s where I first found the blood,” he said. “I had started to doubt myself.”

He waited and called his dad, and the two men located the buck under some brush 60 yards from where the deer was shot. 

“When I drug him out, the first thing my dad said was, ‘Son, I’ve never walked up on one dead that big,’” Waters said. “I told him, ‘I know I haven’t.’”

The 11-pointer, which green-scored 170 3/8 inches Boone & Crockett, had a rack featuring a 21 1/4-inch inside spread, with bases more than 5 inches in circumference. The buck was aged at 5 1/2 years, and weighed-in at 232 pounds.

“That’s by far the biggest deer I’ve ever killed,” said Waters, who works for Diamond Offshore. “I knew he was big, but I didn’t know he was that big.

“I actually thought I had walked up on the wrong dang deer.”

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