Blood-trailing dog helps Hilburn recover trophy buck
Like the old song says, sometimes you need a little help from your friends.
In Malcolm Hilburn’s case, he needed the help of a blood-trailing dog named Lyla to recover a monster Caddo Parish buck he shot on the morning of Nov. 18
“My son, Cavitt and I had met up with my brother Jake at the community store early that morning with plans to hunt. Jake and Cavitt were going duck hunting and wanted me to come along,” said Hilburn, 40. “I told them no, I was going to the property we have leased to try for that big buck we had seen on camera — a buck everybody in the area had been talking about.”
So as his brother and son headed for the duck blind, Hilburn, of Benton, struck out for the small 27-acre plot they lease in north Caddo Parish.
“As I walked in and took a seat on the ground with my back against a tree along an old logging road, it began to rain steadily,” he said. “Along about 9:30, I hadn’t seen a thing and I sent a text to my brother telling him I’d about had enough sitting and getting soaking wet and was ready to call it quits.”
He decided to wait another half hour before heading out of the woods, and thankfully he did: Just before he was about to leave, a doe came trotting out 50 yards in front of him — and right on her heels was a big buck with its head down solely focused on the female deer.
“I knew it was a good buck, but had no idea it was the one we had on camera, one that everybody had been talking about,” he said. “I just knew it was a good one I wanted to shoot.”
Quickly shouldering his Browning .270 short mag, he tracked the moving deer until he found a small opening, put the crosshairs on what he thought was the shoulder and squeezed off a shot. The buck reared up, turned around and took off.
“I called my brother and told him I had shot a good deer and told him I was going to where he was when I shot to see if I could find blood,” Hilburn said. “After about 50 yards, I found some blood so I knew I had hit him. When my brother and son got there, they joined me in the search, we found a blood trail for about 300 yards and then the trail abruptly ended.
“We looked all over the area without finding more blood, so Jake suggested we try and find someone with a blood-trailing dog.”
That’s when help from friends came in the form of the Louisiana Blood Trailing Network, a group of volunteer blood dog owners statewide who put Hilburn in touch with Clint Strother and his dog, Lyla Gene.
“Clint and his dog got there around 2 that afternoon,” Hilburn said. “When Lyla got on the trail, we followed her for probably a mile where we found the deer.”
And what a recovery it was: The rack had 18 scoreable points, and the 6 ½-year- old buck ultimately stretched the tape at Simmons Sporting Goods in Bastrop to a whopping 204 4/8 inches of bone.
“It was the suspense that got me,” Hilburn said. “Following Clint and his dog up to the buck with my brother and son tagging along with me — and not knowing what it was until we saw it lying there — was overwhelming.”