When you talk to Jarad Riser about getting an animal to maturity, that discussion will most likely be about livestock.
The 31-year-old cattle farmer from Downsville was seemingly born to help animals grow, just like his father Bob Tom, who is well-respected in the North Louisiana farming community.
But last year, Riser also started focusing on a very nice 8-point buck that he had been seeing regularly from his stand in Union Parish.
“Last year, I had this buck on camera as a good 8-point, but I could tell that he had some really good potential, so I let him walk just to see what he would grow to be this year,” he said.
Riser and the hunter across the road from him, Dusty McGehee, established a gentleman's agreement on the deer because it had been seen on both properties. Last year, neither hunter pulled the trigger on the buck and the stage was set for this fall.
When the buck finally started to show its face again, the images proved that the hunters had made a wise decision.
“It was noticeable as soon as I saw him,” Riser said. “He had a couple of distinctive characteristics that we spotted right off, and I knew it was him.”
With the buck showing up occasionally during daylight hours, Riser knew he had a shot at landing the brute. And when the primitive weapons season hit, he had the perfect spot in mind: It took a few days hunting, but on Oct. 26, he finally saw the buck in person one more time.
“The rain had everything wet and there wasn’t too much we could do, so I got off early that afternoon and was in my box stand around 3 p.m.,” he said. “Things really started to happen pretty quick after that.”
At about 3:30, he started seeing deer — and they brought friends. He watched as does, small bucks, and another good buck, a young 8-point, all came in to eat that afternoon, but there was still no sign of the one he wanted.
Time flew by with all of the activity that was going on around him, but at 6:20 he finally saw the big buck coming down his lane — but the shot would be a stretch for his .35 Whelen.
“When he came out, he was about 270 yards from me but coming my way,” Riser said. “I let him come on in to feed, but he was facing me the whole time and wouldn’t give me a shot.”
Finally the deer turned when it was approached by the 8-point, and Riser saw his chance for a shot. The buck immediately hit the ground where it had stood.
“I started texting with Dusty because he was hunting with his son Anders across the road, and about seven minutes after I shot I happened to look back down there and I didn’t see a white belly, so I knew something wasn’t right,” he said.
Riser looked through his binoculars and saw the deer — back on its feet — trying to get to the edge of the lane and into the woods. But the hunter was in a bind because he hadn’t reloaded his gun, and was watching the trophy buck he’d waited so patiently for get away.
“I broke the barrel open, pulled out the old shell, and loaded it again,” he said. “When I fired, I really wasn’t sure about the second shot.”
Riser went to get McGehee and his son, and was debating about using a dog to help track the deer.
“We decided to look at the blood first to see what it looked like because if the blood wasn’t good, we were scared that a dog would just bump him,” he said. “When Dusty found the first sign of a good hit, the deer wasn’t 40 yards past it.”
The first shot had hit the buck squarely in the shoulder and barely caught the lung. It likely would have been fatal, but it was the second shot that sped up the process.
The buck’s rack sported a perfect 10 points and scored 147 ⅛ inches, with only 1 ⅜ inches of difference between the two sides. Its weight was estimated at nearly 200 pounds, and it’s a quality buck that Riser never thought he’d get.
“I’ve killed some small bucks before, probably 115 inches is the biggest,” he said. “I never thought I’d get something like this.”
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.