November was a special month down at the Atchafalaya Delta WMA.
Big bucks were taken, personal bests were set and deer were on the move for most of the month, with the rut kicking into high gear around Thanksgiving.
Me and my buddies, Randy Levingston and Casey, saw 26 deer and 13 hogs during the month.
But Randy had the most special hunt of all. If you read my last blog, which detailed October bowhunting at the Delta, you’ll recall that we had several encounters with a big buck. I drew back on him at 20 yards, only to have him disappear in a flash before I could release my arrow.
The next day I jumped him, and Casey got a good look at him, but also could not get a shot off. A couple of weeks later, I saw him again at 70 yards right before dark.
On Nov. 14, I made a morning hunt in frosty 34 degree temps. I didn’t see anything and rested at the camp, waiting to try again in the afternoon. Randy knew the conditions were good, and he was able to get off from his job at lunch and join me for the afternoon hunt. It was a brisk 45 degrees, and he took a stand that had been hot over the last several trips. I took another one a few hundred yards away.
At 3:55, I got a call on my radio.
“I just shot a buck” Randy said. “How big?” I asked. “It was a pretty decent 8-pointer,” he replied.
For him to describe the buck like that, I knew it was going to be a good one. The excitement started to build as we agreed to let him sit for another 30 minutes. He felt like he had put a good shot on the buck, and we hoped for a quick recovery.
A few minutes later, Randy radioed back that he a had a young doe under his stand. Not wanting to have to try to get two deer out from as far back in the woods as we were, he let the doe walk.
At 4:20, I radioed that I was on my way to him. Halfway there, the radio buzzed and Randy proudly announced, “He’s down only 20 yards from where I shot him.”
Now I was really pumped, and I had a good feeling about what I was getting ready to see. I turned the corner and there he was: It was the same buck we had been chasing for several weeks — an 8-point beauty, with an 18-inch outside spread and a very symmetrical rack.
The neck was huge, evidence that this buck had really been rubbing trees in advance of the rut. Randy put the big buck down with a 35 yard shot fired from his Mathews Drenalin compound bow.
Randy had a smile that wouldn’t fade, and we started high-fiving and celebrating like crazy.
It’s always great to share in an experience like this: Some of my best hunting memories are my Dad and I sharing those types of moments when one of us bagged a big buck.
But the next thing we had to tackle was getting the beast back to the boat, which was quite a walk away. We had a cart, but with the high grass and soft mud, we decided to double team the buck and just drag the deer out.
It took a while, but in the cool of the night we finally made it back. Then things took a little turn for the worse.
The water had not come up nearly as much as was forecast, and Randy’s 18-foot boat with a big Gator-Tail motor was sitting out of the water.
Getting it back into the water, inch by grueling inch, took us another hour, and we finally made it to the game warden’s camp to check-in the buck at 9:00 pm.
We got home at 10:30 and had it skinned and cleaned up by 12:30 a.m.
We both were very cold and tired, but Randy and I agreed it was a good tired - if there is such a thing. The mission had been accomplished, the beast was slain and we had plenty of pictures to show you guys.
Many other fine bucks also were brought in during November - it appears that this season may go down as one of the best ever at the Delta.
Now, early December is here and the rut continues and even more big bucks have been taken. I personally saw a buck that might surpass Randy’s rack size, if not body weight.
I had the deer at 18 yards at 6:40 in the morning, and again at 26 yards at 7:55. Neither time was I able to draw, as he passed through the shooting lane too quickly. But it's a big deer: Possibly 10 points with long, thick tines.
I didn’t get to see how wide he was on either look, but we’ll continue to pursue this fine buck (and others) in hopes of another successful adventure. The strategy of how to get these big deer is very intriguing and is a great challenge to us.
Good hunting, Happy Holidays, be safe and God bless!