Last year, Mark Cloud was focused on hunting a nocturnal 8-point buck he had nicknamed “Tall Tine” on his lease in Allen Parish.
This year, the 40-year-old from Oakdale was in pursuit of the exact same deer. But its antler shape had changed dramatically — along with its nickname this season.
“Last year, we were calling him ‘Tall Tine’ because they were real tall,” said Cloud, 40, of Oakdale. “This year, he went to ‘Acorn Horn.’
“He didn’t have those acorn horns last year. I don’t know what caused it this year, but last year it wasn’t like that.”
Old Acorn Horn, which had unique, narrowed antler tips on four of eight points, finally slipped up during the rut this year with a rare daytime appearance, and Cloud shot the wily buck during an afternoon hunt in the short pines on Monday, Nov. 23.
“I wasn’t sure what it was at first, but I looked up and saw something running up the lane coming straight at me, and I was like, ‘What is this?’” Cloud said. “Then I saw horns, and I knew what it was. I knew it was him. He was the only thing that good that’s been in that area.”
Cloud had hung some Tink’s Doe-in-Rut buck lure from his stand window when he climbed up around 4 that afternoon, which apparently did the trick and had the buck making a beeline right for him about an hour later.
“He had a little trot to him,” Cloud said with a chuckle. “I had to holler at him to stop, or he might have come all the way to me, I don’t know.”
When the buck stopped and turned broadside to listen, Cloud blasted him at 70 yards with his .30-06.
“I didn’t have time to be nervous. The way it was trotting at me, it was a rushed deal,” he said. “I didn’t have time to panic, which was good for me.”
After examining a picture of the buck, biologist Scott Durham with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said it’s likely the deer injured its antlers this year while they were still in velvet and before they fully hardened.
“He might have just run into something,” Durham said. “With the tips of those antlers, if he just bops into something, I think that’s all it takes to cause that little acorn-type growth.
“It wouldn’t have had to been any kind of big fight or a body injury — it could have been just a little direct trauma to those antler tips.”
Durham said in many cases, only one or two points on a rack are affected. He often sees antlers like those in areas where there are lots of bucks, and said the injury definitely occurs while the horns are still growing.
“They’re not bone yet,” he said. “The mineralization process hasn’t occurred. The velvet has a lot of blood circulating during bone growth, but it hadn’t fully hardened yet.
“It doesn’t take much — just enough to disrupt the blood flow or cause trauma to the skin covering on the outside.”
Cloud ultimately decided to hang the buck on his wall because of its unusual rack.
“I debated not mounting him for a time, but I said, ‘No, I’ll never kill anything weird like that again,’” he said. “I have a 9-point from a couple of years ago that he’s going to be staring at forever.”
To post pictures and stories from your recent hunt, visit the LouisianaSportsman.com Deer Hunting Forum by clicking here.