Barret Fritscher is a guy who readily admits he usually takes pretty good care of his hunting equipment — especially his BowTech RPM 360 bow.
But when he finally walked up on the biggest buck he’d ever arrowed in his life Monday afternoon — a beautiful Atchafalaya Basin 10-pointer in velvet — the 25-year-old Lafayette hunter was so excited, he pretty much treated his beloved bow like an old doormat.
“I’m really, really anal about my bow, but I just threw it on the ground and ended up stepping all over it, and I didn’t even realize it,” Fritscher said with a smile. “I was so pumped up, the bow just went out the window. My buddy even laughed about it. He said, ‘It’s not like you need it anymore, huh?’
“I said, ‘Hell yeah, I need it.’ But I wasn't really worried about it then.”
The 190-pound Basin buck was plenty reason enough to temporarily forget about the bow: the 5 ½-year-old deer was a symmetrical 10-pointer that green-scored 141 inches Pope & Young, with a 15 2/8-inch inside spread and 5 ½-inch circumference at the bases.
Fritscher, who was positioned just 12-feet up in a lock-on overlooking a small oak grove on private land near Whiskey Bay, stuck the big deer from only 10 yards at about 5:45 p.m.
“When I checked my cameras Monday, I had a picture of him Sunday evening at 6:59, which is still plenty of good shooting light,” he said. “So I decided it would be good to hang that stand and hunt that day to make sure I got in early.”
Fritscher, who works offshore 28 days on and 28 days off, said the big buck first appeared on his trail cam on Sept. 15 — but he didn’t see the picture until he returned from his hitch on Sept. 30.
Although piles of rice bran and corn he had put out were running low, Fritscher made the strategic decision not to replenish the bait before he hunted on Monday afternoon.
“The game plan was to not put bait out to try to make him come earlier,” he said. “The bait was running dry, but I didn’t want to cause any disturbance and add any pressure, or put scent on any of the bait or any of that.”
He started hunting about 4 p.m., and watched as two does and a spotted fawn nibbled on the rice bran. A 6-point he also had seen on his trail cam eventually came out, followed by the big buck about 30 minutes later.
“He came from the right side,” he said. “I heard some commotion and some leaves crackling and looked over, and here he came. He was coming out of the thicket.”
Fritscher shot sitting down, and his Carbon Express Maxima Blue Streak 350 arrow with a Rage Chisel Tip broadhead found its mark. The shot was a clean pass-through, and the big buck bolted off into the thicket.
“I thought I heard him crash, and I saw the arrow covered in blood, so I pulled out to let him sit for half an hour,” he said. “I grabbed two guys that I hunt with, and one of them got his tracking dog and we went back and found it.”
That was when he finally got to put his hands on the buck — and ended up stepping all over his bow.
“It was the greatest feeling in the world. Words can’t describe the emotions that came out,” he said. “From the point that the arrow was released to finding the deer, it was just a whirlwind. It was unbelievable.”
He likened the experience of shooting the big buck to making a big hit in football.
“It was like the whole world stopped and stood still. You can hear yourself breathing and hear your heartbeat, and all of a sudden you make that hit and it’s like you’re going 100 miles per hour again,” he said. “That’s exactly how I felt when I drew that bow back.
“I was nervous as hell, but once I got to my anchor point, it was all in slow motion. I shot and I released and everything was good. I was steady, and when I saw that lighted nock go through the other side of the deer, everything was 100 miles per hour again. I was jacked up, man.”
Downing the 10-pointer is the culmination of lots of hard work and effort, Fritscher said.
“I worked all summer long. I started hanging stands in June to try to get on something good,” he said. “Since I’ve been bowhunting for six years, I’ve been trying to shoot a Pope & Young — and now I finally got it.
"I’ve been plugging away.”
The big buck is already at the taxidermist, and Fritscher is looking forward to having a trophy mount that will always remind him of a special October day in the Basin.
“I’ve got a spot in the camp for him, or whenever I wind up buying my house,” he said. “He’ll be with me wherever I go.”
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 optics at the end of the contest.
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.