William Smith and his son, Chase, headed out to their box blind Saturday afternoon in Union Parish, with the plan being that the 13-year-old would get a shot at his first deer of the season.
That was the plan — even though that’s not exactly how things worked out after a relatively slow afternoon on Smith’s lease near Bernice.
But with about 30 minutes of shooting time left, action picked up dramatically.
“He was the one supposed to be doing the shooting, but you know how kids are. He got tired and went to sleep,” said Smith, of Summerfield. “I heard some squirrels barking out in the piney woods, and I tried to wake him up. I said, ‘Theres’ going to be some deer coming. Those squirrels are barking at something.’
“But he was asleep, and I could not get him to wake up.”
When a big doe stepped into the lane minutes later, Smith said his son was literally doubled over in his seat, asleep with his head in his lap.
“When the doe walked out, I reached down and grabbed him by the leg. I was trying to get him to shoot the doe. I grabbed his leg and squeezed him, but he didn’t wake up,” Smith said. “Then I shook his leg and he didn’t wake up, so I shook it harder, and when I shook it, I shook it hard enough the deer stand moved, and the doe looked up at us.”
Chase didn’t respond in time, and the doe meandered into the hardwoods across the lane. That prompted a “discussion” between father and son on the benefits of staying awake in the stand.
“While I was talking to him, I was politely chewing him out, telling him, ‘You’ve got to wake up if you want to get a shot,’” Smith said.
As a couple more does and yearlings crossed the lane, Chase finally perked up just in time to see a huge buck prepare to cross over into the hardwoods. Fortunately, the deer was apparently more focused on the string of does coming from the piney woods than the father and son conversing in the stand.
“I could tell it was a buck by the way he was walking, but I didn’t know how big. I said, ‘It’s a buck — shoot it. Shoot him.’ Half his body was out in the lane, and he was stopped and looking straight at us,” Smith said. “I told him to shoot it twice.”
That’s when a serious case of sleep-induced buck fever kicked in on the youngster.
“He was so in shock he couldn’t lift his gun to his shoulder,” Smith said. “The first time he didn’t say anything, and the second time he said, ‘Daddy, I can’t. You’re going to have to shoot it.’”
With the buck still staring warily at the box blind, Smith grabbed his bolt action Winchester 7 mag from the corner and sighted in the deer at about 60 yards.
“I had never shot one that big, either,” he said. “I wanted Chase to shoot it, but I was scared he was going to run off. I didn’t want to take that gamble, so I threw up and shot.”
Smith’s quick reaction paid off, and he connected just behind the buck’s right shoulder. The deer kicked, then took off, and only minutes later they found the buck piled up about 50 yards from where it had stood.
“We were both shaking pretty hard. My son was shaking harder than I was, and he didn’t even shoot, but it was pretty impressive,” Smith said. “We just had to stop there for a second and thank the Lord, and just look at him.
“You don’t usually see one that wide.”
The big 10-point’s inside spread measured almost 20 inches, and the 200-pound-plus buck green-scored 147 2/8 inches Boone and Crockett at Simmons’ Sporting Goods in Bastrop.
For Smith, who has shot four Louisiana bucks that are currently on his wall, along with two more nice mounts killed bowhunting in Kansas, space is at a premium.
“Something is going to have to come down so something can go up,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve only got so much wall space.”
While he’s happy to have taken his biggest buck to date, Smith would have been just as happy if Chase had fired the kill shot.
“It was an awesome trip, and we really had a blast,” he said. “As tickled as I am, I just really wish Chase would have shot it.
“My son did say, ‘I will never go to sleep in the deer stand again.”
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.