My buddy Scott Dupre had a wonderful hunting experience earlier this season. And no, he didn’t kill a monster buck - but someone very close to him did.
Often, that’s even more exciting and rewarding for the person who gets to witness and share the experience.
When my dad was in better health and still hunting with me, every time I killed a deer -whether it was a small doe or a trophy buck - he was there to shake my hand, slap my back or give me a high five, and I could see the excitement and pride in his eyes.
Those are times I will cherish forever, and Scott had one of those moments.
Here’s his story:
"On Nov. 25, my girlfriend, Jody Pillsbury and I went hunting on the Atchafalaya Delta WMA. She was recently introduced to the sport of deer hunting and made the decision to hunt solely with archery equipment. This was her second year of hunting - and hard hunting at that.
“Over the past two years she's had a few opportunities to harvest smaller bucks and does, but made the decision to pass on them. This began to frustrate me, because I didn't want her to lose interest in hunting and I knew that waiting on a mature deer to come into bow range could take a lifetime. I also knew that just having a mature deer in range doesn't always mean it's a done deal when it comes to bow hunting.
“We have always hunted together so I could guide her in what to do - I also wanted to be with her for her first deer.
“Well, on this day she talked me into going separately. She said she was a big girl and could handle it.
“So I walked her to the stand and got her set up, then proceeded to another hunting location. We were running a little behind and I didn't get in my stand till about 3:45.
“Before my sweat dried all the way at 4:12, she texted me saying she had shot a big buck and wanted me to go get her. At first for a minute I thought she was messing with me and that maybe she had gotten scared. Then the texts didn't stop. I couldn't get to her quick enough.
“When I got there, I saw her arrow broken off and she told me she thought she had shot a little bit high. I told her high was OK because of the angle. The deer was only 14 yards away when she released her arrow. She also told me that she thought she heard him fall.
“Well I was a little excited by this point and couldn't sit in the tree any longer, so we got down and looked at her arrow, which let us know she had gotten great penetration. However, we didn't find a speck of blood.
“But I did see where the deer had run and trusted what she said about her shot and proceeded to track the buck.
“Finally, after about 50 yards we found blood. I then looked ahead and saw what looked like a stump sticking up out the marsh and quickly realized that it was her buck.
“We ran across the marsh like gallinules to retrieve him. At this point I still hadn't realized just how big he was because his antlers were buried in the marsh and cut grass.
“When we pulled him out of the grass is when the excitement started. She had taken a beautiful 8-point bigger than anything I had ever taken.
“I will cherish that day forever. Turns out this deer was one we had gotten pictures of for three years. We had named him ‘Basket Case,’ and he weighed 180 pounds with a 128-inch rack.
“By the way, did I mention that Jody is now hooked?”
Hooked? You think? Who do you know whose first-ever deer kill was one of that magnitude?
Jody's remarkable patience and dedication definitely paid off. Many hunters would have settled for a lesser deer and maybe not even had the opportunity to see that one.
A lot of things have to go right for a hunter to kill a buck like that. Things like stand location, wind, weather, time of day, time of the season, hunter pressure, and the pre-rut or rut.
But even when all those things fall in place, the hunter must have practiced shooting their bow diligently, remained silent and still, drew back that bow and put the best shot possible on the buck.
But then it’s not over yet. Did the shot penetrate or pass through? Did it hit a vital area? Is there a blood trail? How far did it run? Is it down?
Yes, all those possibilities came together in a positive way on Nov. 25 for Jody, and she was rewarded with a magnificent buck.
I am extremely happy for Jody and Scott. They were blessed to share a very special and rare hunting experience, one that I hope all of you get to share one day.
After all, this is what keeps us going when times get tough - those dreams of harvesting that mythological buck of a lifetime.
Sometimes dreams do come true, and if you're a doubter, just ask Jody: she’ll tell you so.
Good hunting, God bless and be safe!