When Paul Stewart noticed a big buck flirting with the edge of his shooting lane in a pine orchard near Winnfield last weekend, he decided not wait around for the perfect shot.
Turns out that was a good decision.
“I just looked down and I saw the nose sticking out, and I saw he had decent horns, but didn’t know he was that big at the time,” said Stewart, 57, of Stonewall. “I went straight down to the shoulder (with the scope) because I’ve seen so many big bucks look up and down the lane, then shoot straight across and you never get the chance on them.
“So I pulled the trigger, and he ran across the lane quartering away, and I said, ‘Oh my God, that is a big buck.’”
It was the perfect ending to a week-long vacation on a lease owned by his good friend, Gaylon Ferguson, in Winn Parish. Stewart’s 150-yard shot with his .270 Weatherby Vanguard had found its mark.
“Gaylon, myself and our grandsons trailed him through that pine thicket for a hundred yards,” he said. “We got to the deer and we said, ‘Oh my god, look at the horns.’”
The 11-pointer, which had a 5 ½-inch drop tine along with two kickers on the other main beam, rough-scored 150 inches Boone and Crockett. The rack featured a 19 ¾-inch inside spread with 4-inch-plus bases, and the 5 ½-year-old buck weighed 195 pounds.
Stewart said he hadn’t noticed the drop tine when the deer took off across the lane after he fired last Saturday, Nov. 28, from an elevated box stand at about 8:30 a.m.
“I made a clean shot on him. After he run off and I saw just how big he was, then I got nervous. You get those shakes, you know,” he said. “My knees got weak when we found him.
“If you ever lose that feeling, then I consider your time hunting is over with because the excitement is part of it.”
The old buck had one more surprise in store — for Stewart’s taxidermist, James Tyler in Atlanta, La.
“When we got to the taxidermist, his son Travis walked out to the truck and said, ‘Man, that’s a stud.’ And he looks at it, and said, ‘I’ve seen this deer before.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’
“By then, his dad drives up and whips out his phone and said, ‘Yep, this is the one I’ve got a picture of on my lease.’”
As it turns out, their property is only about 400 yards apart, and Stewart suspects the big buck was trailing does and wound up on Ferguson’s property.
He’s looking forward to getting the mount back from the taxidermist, and already has a spot picked out on the wall for his biggest deer ever.
“I told my wife, ‘Look, something’s got to go, because this is going in the living room,” he said with a chuckle. “She kind of gave me that look, you know…
“But I think she’ll come around and let me hang this one in there, because it’s going to be a beautiful mount.”
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.