Second time’s a charm for wildlife management area hunter.
Nick Thibodeaux had missed a great deer last season while hunting on Sherburne Wildlife Management Area. He wanted to get into that area for another try, but he wasn’t sure it was worth the effort after the major flooding earlier this year.
So Thibodeaux scouted the area a week ahead of the Oct. 1 opener, and he was happy with what he found.
“I went back to the same tree, and it was like they didn’t even go anywhere,” the 26-year-old Cecilia hunter said. “There were no droppings, but there were buck tracks on the trails.”
So Thibodeaux marked that tree on his GPS before leaving, and then he made the ½-mile hike early Saturday (Oct. 1) and was set up in the tree by 6:15 a.m.
Soon, shooting from squirrel hunters started several hundred yards from him. And at 7 a.m., three does eased down one of the two game trails that converged yards from Thibodeaux’s tree.
Now, this hunter is an avowed meat hunter, but the WMA’s regulations prevented him from tagging one of the does.
“Sherburne is bucks only (until Oct. 16),” he said. “I was just looking to put some meat in the freezer.”
Thibodeaux eased to his feet high above the does, which were interested in the squirrel hunters and had no clue the hunter hung from the tree.
Soon, the does eased off, but Thibodeaux remained alert.
That was a good thing, because about an hour later he caught movement in some bushes.
A buck stepped out at about 25 yards, and Thibodeaux’s heart skipped a beat.
While he could have shot any buck – and he admitted that he would have been happy with a spike – Thibodeaux saw a mass of antlers towering above the deer.
But he was smart.
“After I saw the horns, I never looked at them again,” Thibodeaux said. “When I saw him, I knew was a big 8-point. I knew he was a nice buck, but I had no idea he was so nice.”
The hunter eased his second-hand Jennings AirMaster up and pulled his arrow to full draw.
The buck moved down the exact same trail used by the deer Thibodeaux missed last season. When it reached the spot where the does had stopped, it turned down the second trail.
And stopped 10 yards from the excited hunter, who put the pin on the deer’s side and sent an arrow into its lungs.
“When I shot, the deer ran about 50 yards and piled up,” Thibodeaux said.
The hunter nervously sat down, with every intention of being patient. It didn’t happen.
“I tried to wait, but I couldn’t wait any longer,” Thibodeaux said.
So a mere 10 minutes after loosing his Gold Tip arrow at the deer, Thibodeaux eased down the tree and retrieved his arrow.
It was covered with good blood, and there was some good lung blood on the ground.
“I didn’t even bother with the blood trail,” he said. “I went straight to where I heard him pile up.”
And his heart stopped for a second time that morning.
The buck probably weighed about 190 pounds – but what caused Thibodeaux’s palpitations was the calcium attached to the deer’s head.
There were actually nine beautiful points arrayed around a thick frame, and Thibodeaux just couldn’t believe how massive the rack turned out to be.
“I had no idea how big it was until I put my hands on it,” he said. “I actually had to walk away and get myself under control.”
Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries biologist Tony Vidrine green-scored the deer this morning (Oct. 3) at a gross score of 160 inches Pope & Young, with the net totaling 148 4/8 inches.
“God must have touched me on the shoulder that morning,” Thibodeaux said.
Thibodeaux said the buck proves the state’s public lands offer some top-notch hunting.
“With public hunting, you never know what’s going to walk under you,” he said. “People think big bucks are only up north and on private land, but that’s bull.”
JOIN THE CLUB, get unlimited access for $2.99/month
Become the most informed Sportsman you know, with a membership to the Louisiana Sportsman Magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.