There is one day on the calendar every year when Homer’s Joe Heckel wants to be on his deer stand: Nov. 19, a date when he’s connected with several good bucks.
He refers to the date as “D-Day.”
For his daughter, bowhunter Lainey Walker of Minden, Nov. 19 continued its magic when she arrowed a big 10-point buck that morning.
Walker, who has been a bowhunter since a former boyfriend introduced her to the sport as a high school junior, has become an expert at going after deer with her bow. (She uses a Hoyt pulling 50 pounds, with Rage Hypodermic 100-grain broadheads.)
“I got an 8-point the week before on Nov. 13, a nice buck with a 14-inch inside spread,” Walker said. “The main reason I wanted to be on my stand the following week is because the rut is kicking in, and I knew I’d have a chance at maybe getting a crack at a good buck.”
The stand Walker chose that morning was a ladder stand sitting at the site of an old box stand that is no longer usable, but in a prime location on 180 acres of family and leased land near Lisbon in Claiborne Parish.
“We had put up all our lock-on stands at other locations, so all we had left was the ladder. I liked the location so well I decided to hunt from it because it sits on a ridge overlooking a bottom and in the past, deer have always traveled that ridge,” said Walker, who works as a registered nurse in the neurosurgical ICU at University Health in Shreveport.
She didn’t have long to wait that day, which turned out to be a perfect morning for hunting: the temperature was cool and there was no wind.
“About 8:15, a small doe came running through and stopped in front of my stand. She was acting nervous and looking behind her and then took off. A few minutes after she left, I heard a buck grunting and made out the rack of a buck about 75 yards out in front of me,” Walker said. “The buck was taking his time and eventually began moving off toward the bottom.”
Walker reached for her grunt call and hit it a couple of times to see if she could attract the attention of the buck. A few minutes later, a big doe came trotting in her direction. Right behind the doe, Walker saw more movement and recognized the rack of the buck she’d seen earlier.
“The doe stopped right under my stand and the buck kept coming toward her. I drew my bow and had my sight on a spot just ahead of him. When he hit that opening, I released the arrow and he took off,” she said. “He circled me, but I heard him fall maybe 100 yards behind me.”
She walked to the buck and realized she had arrowed a real trophy. Tipping the scales at 175 pounds, the deer sported a symmetrical 10-point rack with 17 inches of air inside. Rough score of the antlers are in the 140-inch-plus range.
Although Walker was thrilled to arrow a trophy buck on “D-Day,” she had one regret.
“My grandfather, Bert Heckel, passed away in 2013. He was a serious bowhunter, and one of the area’s best-known taxidermists,” she said. “It would have been the cherry on top of my experience if my grandfather could have mounted my deer for me.”
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.