The third time was the charm for Dakotah Finn and a nice public lands 12-point he’d been pursuing on Clear Creek Wildlife Management Area in Vernon Parish.

Finn, 23, of Hecker, first spotted the heavy-horned buck when he took his nephew up to Clear Creek in late October for Youth Weekend in Area 3. The youngster dozed off, and the buck slipped back into the woods without a shot being fired.

When Finn returned for opening weekend on Oct. 31 for his own shot at the deer, he was greeted with lightning, thunder and lots of rain — but the buck showed up again.

“I got lined up on him and I don’t know why, but my scope kept fogging up on me,” Finn said. “It was pretty humid I guess. I wiped my scope three times, and by the third time he had slipped off in the woods.

“But I could tell his horns were pretty big, and he had crossed the pipeline in the same spot twice.”

Finn has been a regular on the WMA for about the last 16 years, and uses his local knowledge of the terrain to his advantage.

“I do a lot of preseason scouting every year and try to get a little bowhunting in. If I'm lucky enough to stick one with my bow that’s good, but a lot of times the bowhunting just lets me know what spots are hotter that year, and which spots I’m not seeing too many deer. 

“It’s a lot of time in the stand, and seeing which spots are better than others.” 

Hoping the big buck was still in the area, Finn returned to the WMA early on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 28. He headed back to the same spot and immediately liked what he saw.

“That morning when I walked in, there was a huge scrape right in the middle of the pipeline where he had been crossing on that trail. It looked like he had just did it,” Finn said. “I shined my light and I saw a white oak at about 40 yards from that scrape, and that’s where I headed.”

Thirty feet up in his climber, Finn saw a couple of does at sunrise, but then nothing. Shortly after 8, he decided to hit his Flextone grunt call a few times, and almost immediately heard a response.

“Then I let out two medium grunts, and he came charging out the woods and stood right in the middle of that scrape looking broadside at me,” he said.

Finn was ready for the 50-yard shot with his Browning .243 A-bolt.

“I was confident on the shot,” he said. “When I lined up, I put it right on the pump station and pulled the trigger.”

The buck arched up and took off, and Finn heard the deer crash behind him. After waiting about 30 minutes to make sure the buck was dead, he climbed down and went over to finally get his hands on a rack he’d already seen twice before.

“I saw his big white belly sticking up. It was very exciting,” Finn said. “I knew he was big, but when I actually saw the mass of the horns and got to hold him in my hands, it was very rewarding for doing all the scouting and hanging in there. 

“Lots of people hunt one spot and they get discouraged if they don’t see a deer in one or two hunts. I just stuck to the same spot, and it paid off.”

The big 12-point’s rack featured a 16 ½-inch inside spread, with 5-inch bases. The deer was estimated to be between 4 and 5 years old, and weighed 160 pounds. His taxidermist hasn’t officially rough-scored the buck yet, but Finn measured it himself at about 146 inches.

“I always give thanks to the great Lord above,” he said. “With Him, I’ve always had pretty good luck. That, and with the knowledge of the property, it’s always worked out.”

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