Historic Winter Quarters has a rich history and is known for its large Antebellum home located in Tensas Parish. During the Civil War, Union soldiers destroyed fifteen plantation homes in 1863 under orders from General Grant and General Sherman. Winter Quarters was the only plantation left standing.
Today, the Winter Quarters Hunting Club now comprises some 8,000 acres and when the adjacent Mississippi River allows, the club is home to some top-notch deer. During years of flooding, much of the land is inundated by water. High water last year destroyed many wooden deer stands on the property, stands that have been replaced this year by sturdy Family Tradition Big Quad-pod stands. One such stand was installed on Nov. 19, and Ruston’s Lane Cox was the first hunter to sit in this stand four days later.
“This new stand sits in the middle of a block of woods with a couple of shooting lanes and is located only a few hundred yards from the Mississippi River,” Cox said. “I was on this stand because it has been so dry and I felt the deer would be headed toward the river for water and should pass by where I could see them.”
Getting on the stand before daylight the morning of Nov. 23, it didn’t take long before Cox began seeing deer.
“I saw a small 8-point right at daylight,” he said. “Around 8:30, while I was scanning the woods with my binoculars, I saw two more 8-point bucks about 200 yards from my stand. One was a good one that would probably measure around 145 inches of antler and I decided to take him. I got my Remington .300 ultra mag up and had clicked off the safety when I decided to peek over the scope and I saw another deer.”
Changing targets, Cox moved the scope to the other deer to see what it was, hoping that by chance it would be a big one that showed up on cameras for the first time this year and had been put on the “hit” list for this season.
“The deer walked through a small opening not much larger than a dinner plate and all I could see was his rack,” Cox said. “As soon as I saw the rack, I knew it was the big buck we wanted to take. He took a couple of steps and his left shoulder was in the small opening.
“My gun is sighted in at four inches high at 400 yards so I put the crosshairs at the bottom of his body and shot. I couldn’t tell what happened but saw the other three 8 points he was with all take off, which made me think he was down. I hurried down the ladder and headed to where I thought he was but found nothing.”
Cox returned to his stand and found the little hole in the foliage where the deer was standing when he shot, got a visual on several trees to be sure he was looking in the right spot.
“As I neared the little opening I began to smell a rutting buck, which was odd because our rut over here is several weeks away,” Cox said. “Then I spotted him lying on the ground right where he was standing when I shot.”
The big boy
Deer in that part of the state generally run heavier because of the rich soils of the Mississippi Delta. This buck was no exception as he sported a rack of 10 points, an inside spread of 19 ½ inches, bases of 5 ½ inches with 23-inch main beams and 11-inch G2s and was aged at 5 ½ years. The buck weighed an astounding 268 pounds.
“That’s the biggest deer I have ever seen,” Cox said. “Incidentally, another hunter had shot at this buck with a crossbow earlier in the season and had clipped his back, leaving a 4 to 5 inch flesh wound on top of his back.”