Swirling winds earlier this month almost cost Carter Duval a shot at a 150-inch plus 8-point buck — his biggest ever with a bow — but just when the 18-year-old from Lafayette thought he was going to get busted, the hunting gods apparently looked down and smiled.
A freshman at the University of Louisiana - Lafayette, Duval was in his lock-on stand on Oct. 9 about 22-feet above the southern edge of an oak flat in Concordia Parish — but the breeze just wasn’t cooperating.
“I got in my stand and the wind shifted on me. It started out north and was supposed to be good in that stand, but it ended up swirling on me all afternoon to where I wasn’t set up very good,” he said. “But I was able to get lucky because he came around the wrong way.”
Duval had climbed up that afternoon about 3:15, and it wasn’t long before a doe busted him in the wind.
“She started blowing and she took off because she smelled me,” he said.
But the flat was loaded with acorns, and Duval watched as two big bucks trailed by two does came out of a thicket about 100 yards directly in front of him around 4:30, and casually browsed as they steadily made their way toward his tree.
One of the bucks was a big 8-point Duval had seen for about three weeks on his trail cam.
“I thought I was done, but they ended up coming to the right side of my stand where I couldn’t even draw back. They were at 20 yards for a while,” he said. “I thought it was over because I’m right-handed.”
The deer had moved far enough right to miss Duval’s scent blowing on the breeze, but now he had another problem — he couldn’t get a shot from his awkward position in the tree.
“I didn’t want them to see me. I couldn’t turn and draw to my right because being right-handed, it’s hard to shoot to your right,” he said. “I would have had to turn my entire body.
“I was hoping he’d move to my left or do what he did — walk behind the stand where I was able to stand up and turn around.”
Duval didn’t waste any time when — after watching them at 25 yards for 10 minutes — the deer finally allowed him to take a shot.
“Once he followed one of the does he was with and got behind the tree, I stood up and got in position, and as soon as he walked out he was at 20 yards broadside and I was able to get a shot off,” he said. “I stood up and turned to my right and shot him on the right side of my tree, but I was completely reversed on my stand.
“It was very nerve wracking. I didn’t want him to go downwind of me where he could smell me, and I didn’t want him to walk away. So he basically did the only thing he could have done for me to get a shot.”
Duval’s Carbon Express Maxima Blue Streak arrow tipped with a 75-grain Muzzy broadhead found it’s mark right behind the big buck’s right shoulder, and he knew instantly it was a kill shot. He was using a BowTech Prodigy bow.
“I usually would have waited to find my arrow or get a good blood trail, but I knew as soon as I shot the deer,” he said. “I texted everyone and said, ‘I got him.’
“I heard him crash 30 yards away, so when I got down I didn’t even go look for my arrow or the blood trail. I just walked right to where I heard him crash, and he was done.”
His short walk to see the big buck almost ended in disaster, though.
“On the way to it, actually I was so excited and started running and not looking, and I about stepped on a water moccasin that just about bit me,” Duval said with a laugh.
The big buck, estimated to be between 5 ½ and 6 ½ years old, weighed 245 pounds and green-scored 154 ⅞ inches. The rack had a 20 ½-inch inside spread, with 5 ½-inch circumferences at at the bases.
“I thought he’d go 145 or 150, tops,” Duval said. “He surprised everybody whenever they pulled out the final score of 154 ⅞…
“That was the first time I was actually sitting for him, and like clockwork he came out. No bait, or nothing. He was just eating acorns.”
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Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.