When Joe Sam Rolfe met with the folks at White Oak Bluff campsite on the Boeuf River, little did he know that the sidearm he carried would one day put his name in the Louisiana record books.
While there in Morehouse Parish attending a campout, Rolfe encountered a big buck — a deer that took off running. He only had one shot and he took it – right in the deer’s rear end.
The buck was eventually recovered, and the massive set of antlers now graces the home of his grandson, Joe Cooper Rolfe, in Oak Ridge.
The fact that Rolfe was able to down a trophy buck with a single shot from his pistol is a story in itself.
However, the fact that he accomplished the feat in the year 1900 blows all the other details completely out of the water.
“My granddad was born in 1869, and passed away around 1946 or ’47, before I was born,” grandson Joe explained. “Deer were almost non-existent back then. From stories I have heard, my granddad didn’t see another deer until the big flood in 1927.
“The rack of granddad’s buck had been handed down to a cousin who hung it on the wall at the family’s old home place near Oak Ridge. When she passed away, another cousin told me if I wanted anything out of the old house, I could have it. They were afraid that since nobody would be living in it, the house and its contents would eventually deteriorate. I went down (and) collected a few things from the house, including my granddad’s set of antlers.”
Robert Barham, a neighbor then and now the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, was shown the rack by Rolfe and asked for a rough score. Barham came up with a number that was above the minimum for a typical Boone and Crockett rack, and urged Rolfe to have it officially scored.
“That was back in 1970 when I first got the rack. A few weeks ago, I called Robert and asked him if he thought it was too late to have the set of antlers scored,” Rolfe said. “He agreed to take it with him to Baton Rouge and have Scott Durham, (who is with the LDWF) and an official scorer, take a look at it.
“Durham scored the 10-point rack as a typical with the score of 172 4/8.”
The rack, which has the appearance of a piece of antique china, is impressive indeed. Its inside spread is 20 6/8 inches, the main beams are 27 and 26 4/8 each, and circumference at the bases is 5 ½ inches. Mass carries throughout the sturdy rack.
According to current big game records for Louisiana, Joe Sam Rolfe’s buck sits in 23rd place on the all-time Boone and Crockett list for typical whitetails.
I daresay that none of the deer above him on the list has the longevity of Rolfe’s buck. It's taken this beautiful 10-pointer 115 years to make the book, but it’s been well worth the wait.
Kudos to Joe Cooper Rolfe for seeing that it got done.