Craig Clark’s baby daughter wasn’t quite two months old at the time, but little Ava played a big part in her father taking down the buck of a lifetime earlier this year in Madison Parish.

Clark was hunting on family property just east of Tallulah on Thursday, Jan. 8, when he crossed paths with a giant 200-class non-typical - and the only reason he even saw the buck was because of his infant daughter.

“I was actually leaving,” said Clark, 28. “I had to take my little girl to get her first shots, so I got down and walked to my Ranger.”

He had been in a box stand positioned in 12-year-old CRP since about 8 that morning, but had to head out about 11:30 to make his daughter’s appointment. As he made his way out, he stopped the utility vehicle before he rounded a corner in case the big buck he had just seen on his trail cam might be further down the road.

“A guy that owns property beside us had this deer on camera for three years,” he said. “I had just gotten pictures of him on New Year’s Eve when I checked my cameras.

“That was the only deer I was planning on shooting this year.”

The plan came together when he rounded the corner on foot - and the big buck was standing on the private road off in the distance.

“I knew it was him immediately,” Clark said. “I had just got a new pair of binoculars, and if I didn’t have them, I don’t know if I’d have killed the deer or not. They have a rangefinder built in them, and that’s the only reason I knew he was at 300 yards.”

He wasted no time in taking the shot with his 7 mm Ultra Mag.

“I didn’t wait,” he said. “I dropped down on my belly and shot him quartering away. He took about two steps and fell to the left edge of the road.”

Clark waited about 10 minutes for a buddy to arrive to help him load up the buck, but when they approached, the deer had one final surprise.

“He jumped up and ran off,” he said. “I had to leave him overnight because I didn’t want to jump him anymore, and I had to take Ava to the doctor. 

“I didn’t sleep at all that night.”

Clark returned the following morning at 8, and after finding blood about 20 yards into the woods, they located the big buck in only about 10 minutes.

“It was pretty neat, it really was,” he said. “He was pretty big. I’ve been seeing pictures of him for a couple of years from the guy who hunts beside us, so I kind of knew what he was going to be.”

The buck was scored at 200 7/8 inches with 17 points at T.P. Outdoors in Monroe. At Simmons in Bastrop, it was scored as a 16-point at 192 2/8 inches. The buck’s inside spread was 22 inches, and Clark estimated the deer was almost 7 years old.

The sales rep for Sanders farm supply already has the deer back from the taxidermist, but isn’t sure where the buck will end up.

“I hadn’t hung him up yet. I can’t decide if I’m going to put him in my house or at my office,” Clark said. “This is by far the biggest deer I’ve ever killed.”

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