When Darrel Dorsey pulled the trigger on his crossbow last month, he definitely wasn’t expecting the reaction he got from a giant 9-point on Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge in Madison Parish.
Dorsey had been watching the deer for almost 10 minutes as it slowly made its way toward him from 120 yards on the morning of Jan. 8. But about 40 yards out, the big buck knew something wasn’t right.
“That son of a gun was behind a bush. I could see his head good, then he stopped,” said Dorsey, 53, of Lockport. “If he had taken two more steps, I would have had a clean broadside. Sure enough, he turned and looked at me and started staring me down.
“My face was painted and everything was good, but he knew I didn’t belong there. Then he stomped his foot and started quartering away kind of fast.”
Realizing it was a now-or-never situation, Dorsey lined up and took the shot with his Parker crossbow at about 8 a.m.
“When I pulled the trigger, he heard the bow,” he said. “He lunged forward and put the impact point back almost 2 feet from where I was aiming.
“I shot, and he took me to school. My heart was in my boots when I saw where the arrow was sticking out near his right hindquarter.”
What happened next was an epic five-hour, three-quarter-of-a-mile blood-trailing exercise with Dorsey and his buddy, Donald Baudoin Jr. They let the deer rest for an hour, and picked up the blood trail starting at about 9 a.m.
“They had other hunters around, so we couldn’t stop tracking him,” Dorsey said. “If he would have walked in front of another hunter, somebody else would have finished him off. We just stayed on him.”
The wily old buck tried a few tricks, but Dorsey and Baudoin were able to stay on the deer for the better part of a mile.
“We would be following the blood trail, it would stop, and then he’d walk back along the blood and jump 90 degrees off the trail,” Dorsey said. “We would lose him and pick it up again — seven times he did us that.
“I lucked off because I ripped the belly a little bit and he had some internals hanging out. It definitely wasn’t an instant kill shot. He would have probably lived for two days, or the coyotes or bears would have got him.”
Finally, around 1:45 that afternoon — while still armed with their crossbows — they spotted the buck attempting to loop back around behind them.
“Donald took off running, and I jumped the ditch and took off after him,” Dorsey said. “That was a 200-yard, dead wide-open run. When I was catching up with Donald, the deer was going to go under a bush.
“Donald looked at me, and I said, ‘Shoot!’, and he gut-shot him. Then I shot him, and put the kill shot on him after that.”
The giant 9-point featured an amazing 27 ½-inch inside spread, with 5-inch-plus bases. The big mainframe 8 also sported a drop tine, and tipped the scales at 190 pounds in the rut.
The deer was 5 ½ years old, and green-scored 165 ⅜ inches at Simmons’ Sporting Goods in Bastrop, where it’s currently in fourth place in the archery division and second place in the 9-point division.
“When I originally got to him, I’m looking at him and thinking to myself, ‘Damn, I killed Bullwinkle,’” Dorsey said with a laugh. “That was the first thing that crossed my mind.”
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.