Ray Marcel kicked in 2016 in style: On the morning of Jan. 1 at about 7:15, he was 25 feet up in his Summit climber on Richard K. Yancey Wildlife Management Area enjoying a bite of his bacon sandwich.
He didn’t know it then, but his breakfast was about to be interrupted by a wily Concordia Parish 11-point that had previously managed to stay just one step ahead of him.
The prior two days, the 54-year-old hunter from Houma had been playing a game of cat-and-mouse with the heavy-horned deer he had jumped up while scouting in an area thick with rubs on Dec. 30.
“He just busted out running, and I put my gun on him and watched him for about 150 yards,” Marcel said about his first brush with the buck. “If he would have stopped, I would have taken a shot, but I didn’t want to blow it and shoot at him and miss.”
The day after he had jumped the buck — on New Year’s Eve — Marcel positioned himself upwind overlooking a ditch between the rubs and the deer’s suspected bedding area. He heard what he thought was the buck moving back to his bedding spot early that morning before daylight.
“I could hear him coming. I could hear him walking through that little ditch,” Marcel said. “But when he got straight downwind from me, he stopped and he turned around and went back the way he came. I checked my phone and it said the north wind was going to be blowing for the next two or three days, so I finished hunting that morning — but about midday I climbed down and relocated about 200 yards on the other side of that little ditch he was walking.”
He didn’t have any luck that afternoon, but had positioned himself for success the following day.
Now located downwind of the ditch on New Year’s Day, Marcel was standing up in his climber nibbling on his sandwich when he noticed movement to his right.
“I just saw him. He was walking on the damp leaves and he wasn’t making a sound,” Marcel said. “He was about 100 yards when I noticed him coming directly for my stand. I put my sandwich down, grabbed my gun and I shot him at 40 yards.”
His 7 Mag connected, and the buck dropped on the spot.
“The first thing I did was looked up and thanked God,” Marcel said.
His wife Flavia is a big fan of Crush with Lee and Tiffany Lakosky on the Outdoor Channel, so the next thing he did was text her “BBD” — for big buck down.
“I was getting kind of anxious about whether I should keep hunting him, but she was pretty persistent,” Marcel said. “She said, ‘Stay after him, stay after him.’
“So she should get some credit for getting me to hang in there.”
After the shot, he climbed down and finally got his hands on his best buck ever.
“I’ve killed some decent deer, but nothing like that,” Marcel said. “It was the best deer I’ve ever killed.”
The big 11-point had 24 ½-inch main beams, with an inside spread of 19 inches. Bases measured 5- and 6-inches plus, and the deer — which was preliminarily aged at 5 ½ to 6 ½ years old — weighed-in at a hefty 238 pounds.
Marcel’s taxidermist green-scored the buck at 160 inches Boone & Crockett, and he’s looking forward to putting up the wall-hanger to commemorate a hunt he’ll never forget — even if he was too excited to finish that bacon sandwich.
“I got a couple of other heads, but he’s top dog now,” Marcel said with a laugh. “He’s going to push another one aside.”
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.