On Halloween night in 1959, an event took place in LSU’s Tiger Stadium that gets more exciting each time you watch the grainy black-and-white video. On that night, Billy Cannon ran a punt back 89 yards to beat Ole Miss, winning Cannon the Heisman Trophy that year.
A couple of hours before Cannon, now 72, was honored at Tiger Stadium on the 50th anniversary of that incredible feat, another Heisman moment was playing out in the woods of Rapides Parish.
High school junior Dewey Kendrick IV, a football player in his own right at Glenbrook Academy in Minden, was sitting on a deer stand on property owned by his family located adjacent to the Red River near Alexandria. The trophy he collected was not the Heisman but a 16-point monster buck that greenscored 194 2/8.
“We had gone down to the farm on the weekend to hunt,” the hunter’s father, Dewey Kendrick III, explained. “I had hunted there during muzzleloader opening weekend, and saw a big buck tending a doe, but didn’t get a shot. My son is a big bowhunter — he has taken two Pope and Young bucks in another place we hunt in Kansas — and his plan was to bowhunt.
“However, there had been so much rain, and although we took a small boat along to enable him to reach is bow stand, we finally decided it was too much trouble and would take too much time, so my son decided to sit on a stand I was intending to hunt, so I went and got in another stand.”
Dewey IV picked up the story at this point and gave us a blow-by-blow description of how he collected his version of the Heisman.
“I had gotten in the stand, and was using a Browning A-Bolt, .270 caliber,” he said. “Around 5:30, I caught a glimpse of a deer, and could see it was a good buck. We’re in a cooperative agreement with other landowners in the area, and we don’t shoot small bucks, but I could see right away that this was a shooter; I just didn’t know how big he was.
“The buck stepped into an opening about 60 yards away, I put the crosshairs on his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. After the shot, the deer ran, but I saw from the reaction that I’d hit him, so I just stayed put and listened. There is a bayou near the stand, and I heard the deer hit the water about 100 yards or so further. Then I called my dad on my cell phone, and he told me to just wait until he got there.
“We tracked blood to the bayou so we knew for sure he’d gone in the water.”
By then, it had started to get dark, so the decision was made to resume the search and hopefully the recovery the following morning.
“The woods were so wet and muddy, there was no way we could get our boat back in there with the truck, so we took it on two four-wheelers; Dad put the back of the boat on his, and I put the front on mine. We sort of had a train going through the woods. It was a really slow process, and we had to cover nearly a mile and a half, but we finally got to where the deer had gone into the water, launched the boat, paddled out and began searching for the deer.
“We had looked for an hour, had gone to the other side of the bayou and could find no blood, so we knew he was somewhere there in the bayou. After an hour, we had about given up and were paddling back when Dad spotted something; it was the belly of a deer floating in some thick brush.
“We couldn’t tell anything about the deer with just the belly showing so I reached down and grabbed what I thought was a bunch of brush. I tugged to get the brush out of the way, and what I had my hands on was not brush; it was the biggest set of antlers I ever saw. My dad and I both let out big yells; we couldn’t believe the size of the rack. When I shot him, I had no idea he was this big.”
How big was the buck? There were a total of 16 points on a nearly perfect 12-point frame. The smallest base measured 5½ inches, and was 7 inches between the G-2 and G-3. The buck sported a 20-inch inside spread, and had heavy mass all the way to the tip of the main beam.
Although they didn’t weigh the deer, the estimated weight was in excess of 200 pounds. An official scorer for Buckmasters later greenscored the rack at 194 2/8.
“Because there were only 8 inches of extra antler, the deer will probably be scored as a typical 12-point and will hopefully make ‘the book,’” the elder Kendrick said.
Although this buck is by far the best deer the 16-year-old has taken, he has hunted deer practically all his life.
“He was sitting in my lap when he was 6 years old when he shot an 8-point buck that scored in the 130s,” Dewey III said. “We have a place up in Kansas, and his two Pope and Young deer he got with his bow up there were fine deer. An 8-point he got last year when he was 15 scored 144, and the year before when he was 14, he drilled an 11-point buck that scored 138.”
The Rapides Parish property has been in the family for only two years.
“The land is 2,000 acres of river bottom land, has a railroad track running through it, a bayou on the back with another in the middle of the property,” Kendrick said. “It lies next to the Red River, and has a fine little duck hole on it. I bought this property two years ago because I saw it as a fine place to develop into a quality place my family and I could enjoy. We’re in a cooperative with our neighbors, and all together, we have some 13,000 acres we manage for trophy bucks.”