Brallier’s big buck survives crossbow shot in October; harvested by rifle in November — with the broadhead still in its chest cavity
Ben Brallier celebrated Thanksgiving Day early this year, in more ways than one.
A motorman in the oilfield industry, the 33-year-old from Jonesville celebrated turkey day with his mom the Sunday before the actual holiday because he had to work that week. Then late that same afternoon on Nov. 18, he got a rare second chance and killed a big 14-point buck nicknamed ‘Picket Fence’ that he had been watching on his family’s 3,050 acres of land in Concordia Parish since 2014.
“The first time I saw him in pictures, I didn’t give him much thought,” Brallier said, commenting on the buck’s 9-point rack back then. “But the first time he walked under me in the stand, I was like, ‘That deer is going to be big one day.’ And I named him Picket Fence just as soon as he walked under the stand. He looked like a picket fence, or was going to one day.
“And he actually turned into one.”
But the story of Picket Fence is more than just about that November day it finally was shot. Incredibly, Brallier got a crack at the buck on Oct. 20 while armed with his Horton crossbow and a bolt tipped with a 100-grain Rage broadhead.
Brallier was in his 22-foot ladder stand in some hard woods with the Black River behind him when he stuck the buck from just 22 yards.
“I shot him through the right shoulder, it went through his chest cavity and embedded right behind his left shoulder where the ribs start,” Brallier said. “Where it went through him, it should have hit lungs and arteries and all kinds of stuff. So I don’t know what happened there.”
What happened was the deer took off, and Brallier found only a piece of the bolt, but couldn’t locate the buck — even with the help of a blood-trailing dog. The next day, they located where the deer had bedded down, but couldn’t find the elusive animal. Incredibly, that very next night – Oct. 21- old Picket Fence was back on camera, eating corn and rice bran just 24 hours after being drilled in the shoulder.
Fast forward to Nov. 13, the first time the buck made a daytime appearance after being stuck. That was the incentive Brallier needed to get back into the stand, which setup their encounter on the Sunday Brallier was celebrating Thanksgiving.
About 4:50 that afternoon, he saw a big deer coming out of some thick stuff about 100 yards straight in front of his stand, but he wasn’t sure it was Picket Fence until he got a better look.
“When he stepped out from behind that tree, my heart went to thumping, and it’s been a long time since I’ve had a deer make me feel that way,” Brallier said. “He got me excited.”
This time Brallier had his .444 Marlin with him, and shot the buck at 85 yards. He heard the deer splash into a bottom full from recent rains, and after waiting about 30 minutes, went down and found Picket Fence dead in the water.
“It was bittersweet, I guess,” he said. “Special to shoot a deer like that, but I had the feeling that I won’t have anymore pictures of him or be able to watch him grow anymore. It’s all over with. He was a regular.
“I wanted to shoot him, but I hated to have to shoot him.”
The 4 ½-year-old buck was a mainframe 11 this year, with four kickers (one broke off sometime after Brallier shot the buck with the crossbow in October.) Main beams stretched more than 25 inches, with 5-inch bases and an inside spread of 16 ⅜ inches. Picket Fence green-scored 172 2/8 at Spotted Dog Sporting Goods in Columbia.
When he cleaned the buck, Brallier found the broadhead and 3 inches of the bolt embedded right behind the buck’s left shoulder. The broadhead’s entrance wound had healed up.
Although that big buck is gone, Brallier said he’s already got his eye on two up-and-comers on the property that he’s looking forward to watching grow over the next couple of years.
“Their nicknames are PF-2 and PF-3,” he said with a laugh. “And they carry the same characteristics as him.”