Before hunting pressure puts deer on high alert, the behavior of whitetails — even mature bucks — can be rather predictable.
That was exactly the case for Ruston artist Reggie McLeroy, when a buck he could practically set his clock by came to feed on the corn and rice bran he put out on private land in Jackson Parish.
“After a hot and dry summer with most of the food sources dried up, the deer really began hitting the corn and bran I started putting out in August,” McLeroy said.
As bow season drew near, the buck would come to the food source just after sundown every day, as evidenced by trail camera photos. McLeroy didn’t get to hunt opening day Oct. 1, but laid out his plan to be in his pop-up ground blind the following afternoon.
“I got in my blind with my crossbow late that afternoon, feeling confident that the buck would show as he’d done just about every afternoon,” McLeroy said. “In fact, some days I’d put out corn and bran at 5 and he’d show up before 7 — that was when Daylight Savings Time was still going on.
“Trail cam photos had shown that as a rule, a couple of does would come to feed before the buck, but on this date the buck showed up first. I watched him for several minutes as he surveyed the area before finally stepping up to feed. I leveled down just behind his shoulder and pressed the trigger. At the shot, the deer jumped and then ran into the brush.”
A long wait ensued because McLeroy didn’t want to run the risk of pushing the deer too hard, even though he felt he’d made a good shot.
“I waited until it was completely dark before going to check on the deer. I didn’t find any blood where he was standing but in the area where he went into the woods, I found good blood,” he said. “I made the decision to back out and look for him the next morning.”
Confident that he’d find the buck because of his shot placement, McLeroy said he got a good night’s sleep, dressed and headed out to the woods the next morning to look for his deer.
“I walked to the spot where he ran into the woods and the buck was lying probably no more than 30 yards from where I shot him,” McLeroy said.
The buck weighed approximately 180 pounds, and sported a heavy 8-point rack. McLeroy took him to Simmons’ Sporting Goods in Bastrop to enter the buck in the store’s annual Big Buck Contest, where he is currently in fifth place in the archery category and in second place in the 8-point category.
The rack measured 140 4/8 inches, and had an 18-inch inside spread with heavy mass throughout the rack. Main beams were more than 20 inches, with the G2s spanning more than 13 inches each.
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.