Without ever once actually setting foot on Loggy Bayou Wildlife Management Area, Jerry Bailey did some serious cyber-scouting on Google Earth that resulted in a 12-point, almost 160-inch public lands trophy buck of a lifetime.
The 24-year-old from Deridder focused on seeking out natural pinch points and funnels on the Bossier Parish WMA from his computer screen, then programmed them into his GPS in preparation for his first-ever trip there this past Saturday morning.
“I found several spots that I could hunt in any wind depending on how it was blowing, and the one I went to was where the wind was blowing in my favor,” Bailey said. “I was expecting a good buck to be in there, but in no way, shape or form had I ever dreamed he was going to be this buck.”
Before Bailey even climbed 14 feet up a white oak tree well before sunrise that morning, he had a good idea the area he selected might work.
“When I walked in, I found sign immediately and realized I could kill a deer right there,” he said. “There were numerous scrapes I could see on high points and ridges, and when I shined my light around I counted four or five rubs, and the deer trails were beat down in the dirt. It was a natural funnel pinch point.
“So I backed off of it on the downwind side where I had a good wind and it all paid off.”
Bailey, an avid bowhunter who was gun-hunting Saturday, had positioned himself between a bayou and a cutover, and it didn’t take long before he saw deer. In fact, he came across one as he was walking in toward his spot.
“That deer actually came back out and walked right by me at daylight,” Bailey said. “It was a little doe.”
He didn’t realize it then, but his decision to let that deer walk would be a huge factor in what was about to happen less than an hour later, when he saw a monster buck at about 200 yards cruising toward him on a diagonal moving to his right.
“I saw him, but he came out of the thick stuff and went right back into the thick stuff before I could get my gun up,” he said. “I didn’t want to take a marginal shot, so I waited. When I saw the deer pass, I texted my cousin who was a mile away from me and told him I had seen a giant.”
He made the right call — only a minute later, the buck doubled back from his right and came down the same trail the doe had traveled earlier that morning. His .35 Remington found its mark from 50 yards when the big deer turned broadside.
“I shot and I saw he was hit good,” Bailey said. “He ran off into the thick stuff but I never heard him crash.”
That was when the emotions Bailey had been trying to keep in check came flooding out.
“I try to keep my composure and use that to my advantage to try real hard and make a good shot,” he said. “Everybody was like, ‘Get down and look, get down and look. But I gave him an ample amount of time — at least an hour — because I was shook up. I needed time to collect my thoughts.
“When I thought it was safe enough to get down, I climbed down and I didn’t even have to blood trail him. I walked up and saw him laying out there.”
Seeing the big buck down reminded him of how fortunate he had been eight years earlier, when he shot a 140-inch 8-pointer on Clear Creek WMA in Vernon Parish.
“When I first saw him, I teared up, knelt down and thanked God for everything that I’ve been given lately,” Bailey said. “When I made it to my deer, it was unbelievable.
"It was kind of a moment that I never thought I’d get to have again.”
The big 12-point — rough-scored at 158 inches — had an 18 ½-inch inside spread with 5-inch bases, weighed 250 pounds and was aged at 5 ½ to 6 ½ years.
Bailey plans on mounting the buck on a pedestal to highlight a piebald-like white patch on the deer’s left shoulder - a worthy remembrance of a truly special buck, according to the game warden who checked him out on Loggy Bayou Saturday.
“He said he’s been working there for 15 years, and it should be some kind of record for that area,” Bailey said.
So how does he explain the odds of a hunter who’s never set foot on the property before shooting the biggest buck seen on the WMA in years?
“When I was a little kid, an old man asked me if I knew what a good hunter and a lucky hunter have in common. I said, ‘No sir.’ He said, 'They both eat good.’
“And I live by that.”
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.