Ray’s buck stretches the tape north of 165 inches
Brantley Ray sticks with the phases of the moon to give him the best chance to encounter a big buck, and his strategy worked to perfection on Nov. 10 when a big Madison Parish 13-pointer that had been nocturnal decided to make a rare afternoon appearance.
“I keep up with the way deer move during different moon phases, and with a waxing moon appearing in early November headed for a full moon on Nov. 22, I felt my chances at seeing the big buck would improve as primitive firearms season opened Nov. 10,” he said. “Camera images began showing him making a move closer and closer to daylight, so I felt pretty good about my chances at seeing him.”
His family owns a 2,500-acre farm in Madison Parish that includes quite a bit of WRP land. Ray hunted his box stand that morning and saw about 30 deer come out to feed on the wheat planted on a lane that featured WRP land on one side, and hardwoods and sloughs on the other.
“A couple of buddies and I went back that afternoon. They were on stands nearby while I hunted my box stand. I got on my stand about 3:30 and got settled in,” said Ray, 31, of Mound. “After awhile, deer started showing up. I saw some does, spikes and a small 8-point that came out to feed on the wheat in the lane.”
About 5:15, Ray said he was looking down the lane watching the deer when a big buck stepped out some 300 yards away. He knew it was a big buck, but it wasn’t until he put his scope on the buck that he saw the familiar brow tine of the deer he’d been after.
“The buck began walking toward me as I kept my scope on him, making sure it was the big one I was after. To help settle my nerves, I had to take my focus off the rack and concentrate on his body,” he said. “Once he turned broadside at 200 yards, I was sure that was him so I hit the trigger on my Whelen .35. At the shot, the buck took off running. “I tried to calm down, waited awhile, texted one of my buddies near enough to hear me shoot, and asked him if it sounded like a hit. He said it did.”
Climbing down, Ray walked over to where the buck was standing when he shot and there was no sign of a hit — no blood, no hair, nothing.
“After my friends joined me to look, it was dark and we fanned out in the direction the deer had run after the shot,” Ray said. “After a few minutes, my buddy called out, ‘I found him, and he’s a lot bigger than we thought he was.’”
The buck which, which only ran 30 yards, weighed 250 pounds and sported 13 points, including a drop tine. The inside spread on the rack was 18 4/8 inches, with 25-inch main beams and circumference at the bases at 5 ½ inches.
Ray took the buck to Simmons Sporting Goods, and the rack was measured at 165 6/8 inches —good enough to place the buck at the top of the muzzleloader (primitive firearms) division.