When Paul Hebert climbed into his box stand around 5:45 on the morning of Dec. 29, he really wasn’t planning on shooting a deer.
The 51-year-old from Pierre Part had gone out to his lease near Napoleonville mainly to help his son-in-law, Christopher Theriot, in the event he connected with a buck.
Hebert, who owns a heavy construction business in Assumption Parish, had shot a 180-pound 8-pointer a few weeks earlier, and was content to just watch the action with an eye toward letting the deer mature in anticipation of next season.
“I was ready to hang up my gun because I was ready to let the deer grow,” he said.
But what he saw about an hour later on the edge of his 325-yard-long shooting lane cut through the swamp prompted him to pick up his Browning .260 one more time this season.
And the big 11-point he ultimately brought down, which green-scored at 150 ½ inches, is the largest buck he and several of his friends have ever seen in Assumption Parish.
The morning started off like many do, with a doe coming out into the 25-foot-wide lane along a ridge about 200 yards from his stand.
“They all go the same way in the morning and the same way in the afternoon,” Hebert said. “They travel back and forth from the bedding area and the feeding area.”
Two more does came out, moving from Hebert’s left to right, when he noticed a buck on the edge of the lane right where the does had passed.
“I saw the right side of his beam move in the woods, and then it disappeared,” he said.
Shortly thereafter, a nice 8-point came out on the ridge and promptly pushed the three does across the lane.
“I’m thinking to myself, ‘That’s not the deer I was looking at,’” Hebert said. “So I keep looking with my scope, and he turns his head to the left and back to the right. That’s when I knew they had a good buck in there.”
Hebert watched the big deer through his scope, but the wily old buck never ventured out into the lane.
“I waited five minutes for him, and that deer would not take another step in or out,” Hebert said. “He wasn’t making up his mind, so I decided to make the shot right there.
“I wasn’t real comfortable because they had a few little trees between me and him about 40 yards from the deer, but I knew a good buck like that may never come into the opening.”
At the shot, Hebert thought he saw the deer move left back into woods on the edge of the lane. But after waiting a few hours for his son-in-law to wrap up his hunt, he ventured down to look for the deer and found hair, but came up empty.
A friend from Vacherie, Brent Amedee, came by later to help him search. Amedee suspected the buck had run across the lane, but Hebert was convinced the buck had bolted back the way it had come.
After a futile search on both sides of the lane, Hebert went to the sight of the shot and crossed the lane at more of a 45-degree angle, and quickly found the big buck piled up only 40 yards from where it had stood that morning.
“When I saw the deer, the whole head was in the water, and one beam was sticking out the water,” Hebert said. “I’m talking about I screamed like I never screamed before in my life. I called up my friend and said, ‘You ain’t going to believe what I just killed.’
“It was the most gratifying moment of my hunting life, and I’ve killed a lot of deer. I can’t explain it. I was on a natural high for three days. The rack was sticking out the water about a foot, and I couldn’t see the head. I was like, ‘Oh my God, what did I just do.’”
The 11-point had an inside spread of 18 ½ inches, with 5-inch-plus bases, good enough for a green score of 150 ½ inches Boone & Crockett. The buck was aged at 3 ½ years, and weighed 180 pounds.
“Basically, I didn’t realize this was a monster when I shot it. When I first saw him, after I saw he was a good enough deer to shoot, I just forgot about the horns and looked at the body. Until I found him, I didn’t know how big he was,” Hebert said. “But a deer that size hasn’t been seen by any of my friends, and I have friends 70 years old down to 35 that hunt around here.
“We’ve never seen it before. For this deer to be here is very rare to see in this area. I don’t know where the genetics came from, but we’re happy to have it.”
Hebert suspects the deer he saw move left at the shot was a doe that the buck was tending. But the big 11-point is now at the taxidermist, and will soon be mount No. 10 in Hebert’s 2,200-square foot outside kitchen, which he called his “man cave.”
“I’ve been bragging about him and showing him off,” Hebert said with a chuckle. “I’m still on a semi-high from it. His horns are on the passenger seat - he rides with me all the time.”
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.