Monster Union Parish deer was first buck seen by hunter.
It was the first whitetail buck John Preaus had ever seen in the woods. Naturally, when the monster 15-point behemoth jumped over a pine top squarely in Preaus’ crosshairs and he fired, he assumed this is what all buck deer looked like.
The fact that the following weekend he saw another even larger buck added credence to his contention.
“I was 16 years old, a junior in high school, when I shot the buck on Cherry Ridge Hunting Club, a lease my dad joined to give my brother Joe and me a chance to deer hunt,” Preaus said.
“Dad wasn’t a deer hunter; he hunted ducks and quail, but he wanted us to have the chance to hang out with and learn from club members and savvy hunters like D. R. Mullins and Olen Forbess.”
The brothers decided to hunt Union Wildlife Management Area, which was near their new club, on opening weekend of that season because they could shoot does. But the decision didn’t go over well.
“Dad was a little upset because he’d paid for our club membership and we didn’t hunt the club so we decided we’d make him happy and hunt Cherry Ridge the following weekend,” Preaus said.
The two boys were taken to an area along a pipeline in Bayou deLoutre bottom by Mullins and placed about 150 yards apart. The club was running dogs that day, so instructions were to listen for the hounds and get ready. Since it was “bucks only” hunting, they knew they had to concentrate on seeing antlers.
“We heard the dogs coming and as they were getting closer, I saw my brother shoulder his rifle, so I decided I’d better do the same, and it’s a good thing because almost immediately I saw a doe and a buck coming through the woods parallel to the pipeline,” Preaus recalled.
Standing at the junction of an old road that ran perpendicular to the pipeline, Preaus was certain that the buck would cross the road, so he trained his four-power Weaver scope atop his Winchester Model 100 .308 on the road.
The buck stopped short, however, refusing to cross the road.
“Instead, the buck began skirting the road, jumping over pine tops left there by a recent timber harvest,” Preaus said. “He was headed right toward me and I decided my best chance at a shot was to shoot him in mid-air as he bounded over a pine top. He sailed over a brush top at 25 yards and I pulled the trigger.”
Preaus watched the buck hit the ground, wheel around and take off running. Being a novice deer hunter, he assumed he’d missed.
“I remember thinking that I guess I have just missed the first buck I ever saw,” he said. “However, when I walked over to where he was when I shot, I began to see hair and pieces of flesh, so I knew I’d hit the deer.
“I looked over a brush pile and found a big blood splatter, and then I looked out through the woods and saw the buck trying to get up. I had a flip mount on my scope, so I flipped it aside and used my iron sights to miss the buck three times. He expired, but not because of my marksmanship; I never hit the deer any of those shots.”
The buck sported 15 points with an estimated weight of at least 225 pounds, and was judged to be probably six or seven years old.
Here is where the story gets interesting…
“After having the deer mounted, I had it scored by someone who was not an official Boone and Crockett scorer,” Preaus said. “His score was 177 gross and 155 net. That was fine with me; I just knew I’d killed a good buck and was quite satisfied.”
Click here to see photos taken when the buck was killed.
Contented, Preaus has for the past 46 years had the mount hanging at various times at his parent’s home, his home, his camp and his business, Preaus Motor Co. in Farmerville.
LDWF’s Bill Breed had seen the deer hanging at the Ford dealership, and told Preaus he thought the scored almost five decades ago was off.
“I told John that I believed the buck scored significantly higher than the initial scoring” Breed said. “It was a magnificent buck, and I asked him if I could take the mount and have it officially scored. He agreed.”
David Moreland, retired LDWF deer study leader and an official Boone and Crockett scorer, scored the Preaus buck during a recent workshop at L&M Outdoors in Monroe – and the results were stunning.
“I scored the buck at 204 3/8 gross with a typical score of 172 7/8,” Moreland said. “This was a hoss of a buck for sure.”
The big buck ranks as the 20th largest typical buck killed with a gun in Louisiana. At the age of 16, never having seen a buck in the woods, Preaus hit the equivalent of the lottery on a cold November day in 1965.
No doubt the mount will be admired for the next 46 years with a bit more respect, since it has gone from just an impressive buck to qualifying for “the book.”
“It certainly didn’t have anything to do with skill or deer hunting savvy,” Preaus said. “I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
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