Hunter nearly gave up on recovering 144-inch trophy
Sometimes a deer hunter’s excitement at getting a crack at a big buck fades into utter despair when he finally comes to grips with a harsh reality: He missed the deer — or at least thought he did.
That was the case this weekend for Randy Simpson, who lives in the community of Point near Downsville.
“I was hunting on our 2,800-acre lease in Union Parish on land that is basically a pine plantation,” Simpson said. “I had plenty of bucks on my trail cameras, but never a photo of the buck that stepped out late in the afternoon of Oct.27.”
Simpson,had hunted that morning without seeing anything. But he decided to go back to his stand for an afternoon hunt, where he ultimately experienced emotions ranging from excitement to depression.
“We have a rule on our club that in order for a buck to be legal, it has to have at least 8 points with a 15-inch inside spread. The area I hunted was basically a pine plantation with not much natural forage for deer, so starting before season, we begin feeding protein to give the deer something nourishing to feed on.
“I was sitting in my box stand overlooking three shooting lanes, all of which had been planted in wheat. Along about 6, four small bucks walked into the food plot directly in front of me at about 150 yards and began nibbling on wheat. None of them were ‘shooters,’ and I was enjoying watching a couple of them spar and butt heads when they all turned and looked back the way they had come,” Simpson said.
It soon became apparent what had captured the attention of the four small deer, when a big buck Simpson had never seen nor had any knowledge of walked out.
“I thought….’Oh my gosh, he’s the man,’”Simpson said. “The big buck was on the edge of the food plot and walking away from me when he turned broadside, giving me a shot at 150 yards,” he said. “I shoot a Remington .30-06 bolt action and when I shot, I pulled the rifle back into the stand to jack another bullet in and I never saw which way he ran.”
Climbing down from his stand, Simpson walked over to where the deer was standing when he shot — and found no evidence of a hit, no blood or hair. Only tracks where the deer took off.
“The first thing I did was text another hunter and asked him if he’d heard a ‘pop’ when my gun went off, indicating a hit. He texted back that he definitely thought I’d hit the deer,” he said.
When the hunt was over, several club members joined Simpson to try and find the deer. By then it had gotten dark and after an hour and a half without finding even one speck of blood, the search was called off, and Simpson assumed he had missed.
“I got back to my truck and realized I’d locked my keys in it so I called my son and asked him to bring me my extra key. When he arrived with the key, he said, ‘If you don’t mind, why don’t we give it one more look’ just to see if maybe we can find something to indicate I had hit the deer. I didn’t have much hope left, but agreed we’d look one more time,” Simpson continued.
He and his son searched for an additional 45 minutes or so without success when they decided to look a little deeper into the woods than the original search party had gone. Just 30 yards past where the earlier search ended, they walked up on the dead deer.
“I could not believe we found my deer,” he said. “He actually ran less than 100 yards before falling, but what made the search so complicated — there was never a drop of blood to be found.
“Even when we turned him over, there was no blood on the ground. I assume I had hit the liver and all the bleeding was internal.”
The buck carried a heavy rack with 11 scoreable points; one had broken off what was originally a 12-point rack. The inside spread was 16 7/8 inches, and the rack had plenty of mass, with one side slightly palmated. The main beams were 23 inches, bases were over 4 inches each and the buck weighed 210 pounds. The green score on the rack was 143 7/8 inches.
“It’s the biggest deer I ever killed, and one thing I learned,” Simpson said, “is to never give up when you think you’ve hit a deer.”