Talk about a solid return on investment.
Jarrod Coker was invited to join a Rapides Parish deer lease this past weekend - and on only his second day of hunting there - shot a big 10-point the likes of which hadn’t been seen on the property in at least 50 years.
The 23-year-old from Glenmora endured a driving rain almost all afternoon near Forest Hill on Monday - 25 feet up a pine tree - when the big buck finally paid him a visit around 5 p.m.
“It flooded the whole time I was out there,” Coker said. “It got so bad at one point, between the rain and the fog that set in, I probably couldn’t see 20 yards.”
Turns out, he would only need to see about half that distance when the big buck made its move.
Everything started on Saturday, when Coker hunted all day from the very same tree, which overlooked a small clearing surrounded by a thicket. He didn’t see any deer that day, or even any sign of deer.
But that all changed when he went back to the lease with his wife Monday morning to put out a little corn.
“It looked like a tornado had come through there,” he said. “All kind of oak tree tops were pulled off and he was rubbing them real bad. He either came through on Sunday when I wasn’t there, or on Monday morning. There was no sign, and then all of a sudden there was sign everywhere.
“Now I knew he was in the area, so I told her I was going back that afternoon.”
Rain moved in about 2:45 on Monday, but Coker was patient, alternating grunts and bleats about every 20 minutes with his Primos calls. With heavy cloud cover and fading light, he decided to hit two challenge calls after 4 p.m., and the last one apparently did the trick.
“I was about to get down until I saw him step out,” he said. “It wasn’t five minutes after I hit the last challenge call that he came around the corner like he was in a hurry. He was walking and looking straight ahead, like he was headed to a fight.”
The big buck appeared only 20 yards away, but the deer headed straight for Coker’s tree. He estimates the buck was barely 15 feet from the base of the pine when he fired his .35 Remington.
“He came right under me, so I pretty much shot straight down through his right shoulder,” Coker said. “His knees buckled, and he just laid straight down. He did absolutely nothing, but got down on all his knees and then just laid over sideways.
“Then he blew, and that was it. He never budged again.”
That was when Coker’s adrenaline kicked in — 25 feet up in his climber.
“I got beside myself,” he said. “After I heard him blow, I knew that was his last breath. I put my gun on my seat and went to get down and I started shaking too bad, so I stopped and leaned back.”
He recuperated by taking a break to call his uncle, who also is a member of the lease, before heading to the ground to go and check out the buck.
“When I stepped down, I didn’t have to take but maybe six steps. He was right there next to a bush. When I saw him I just kind of jumped back, because I didn’t realize he was that big,” Coker said. “He kind of scared me a little bit. I poked him with my gun to make sure he wasn’t alive.
“I looked at him, then went to taking pictures and sending them to my dad, uncle, wife and everybody else I could think of.”
An official green score hasn’t been taken yet, but the symmetrical 10-pointer is estimated in the 150-inch range. The deer weighed about 200 pounds, and was aged at 3 years.
Coker’s next step is to select a taxidermist to prepare a mount to commemorate his biggest buck to date, and an introduction to a new deer lease he’ll never forget.
“One of my friends told me the only bad thing about killing a deer that big is it’s going to be hard to kill one bigger, especially down here,” Coker said. “The lease owner told me (Tuesday) that he’s hunted that land for 55 years, and that is the biggest deer he’s ever seen killed in the whole area.”
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.