Jacob Cheatwood had one particular deer on his radar when he got to his stand near Florien in Sabine Parish on the morning of November 11: It was a skinny-racked cull buck that had been showing up on his camera — and his plan was to take that breeder out of the gene pool.
But instead of the cull stepping out, a heavy-racked 13 point — one he had never seen nor had on camera — eased into his lane at 60 yards. One shot behind the shoulder with his Thompson Center .308, and the buck didn’t run far before crashing.
“This cull buck had been showing up regularly on my cameras around mid-morning, and it was my plan to see if I could take him out,” said Cheatwood, 19. “I didn’t get to the woods until 8:20 or so after dropping my little brother off at another stand a mile away.”
Since the skinny-racked buck had been consistently seen on camera around 10 a.m., Cheatwood felt like he had gotten to the stand in plenty of time to have an encounter with the cull — and also collect some venison in the process.
Cheatwood hunts on a lease with his dad and brother owned by Hancock Timber Company, which consists mainly of mature pines with some thickets and young planted trees. His box stand overlooked an old logging road where he put out a pile of rice bran with a feeder on another lane.
“About 10:20, a doe stepped from a trail to begin working on the rice bran and I watched her for at least 20 minutes,” he said. “I noticed that she kept looking back in the direction she had come, so I texted my brother to tell him what I was seeing.
“I set the phone down, looked up and this big buck I had never seen nor had on camera stepped into the old road with his head down about 60 yards from me. All I could tell about the deer was he had some tall antlers, but I couldn’t really tell much about the rack. He took three steps, I put the crosshairs on him and fired. He went down on the front end and ran into the woods all stiff-legged; I knew I’d hit him good.”
Calling his brother and telling him he’d shot a good one, Cheatwood walked down to where the deer had been standing and found good blood. Looking in the direction the deer ran, he spotted the buck on the ground with its head behind some brush.
“I walked up slowly, making sure he was dead,” Cheatwood said. “As I stepped around to where I could see his rack, I was just about overwhelmed. I had no idea I’d shot a deer this impressive.”
The buck was a trophy for sure, sporting 13 points on a heavy-horned rack. The inside spread was only 15 inches, but the mass and tine length more than made up for it. The buck tipped the scales at 190 pounds, and was estimated to be 5 ½ years old
Cheatwood took the deer to Simmons’ Sporting Goods in Bastrop to enter in the store’s Big Buck Contest. Simmons scored the buck as a 12 point – one small tine was just under 1 inch – and the rack measured 166 5/8 inches, currently good enough for third place in the men’s division.