Josh Hailey, 28, works for a plumbing company in Bentley, lives in Jena and does his deer hunting on public land. The huge 600,000-plus Kisatchie National Forest is his choice of spots to hunt, with the area around Georgetown in Grant Parish being his favorite. With an area so large, Hailey uses modern technology to locate prime spots to hang his stand.
“I have discovered an app on the internet that shows a map of the area with details on terrain and what the woods looks like in particular areas,” Hailey explained. “I look for transitions between timber types and I like to get in areas where two types of habitat meet because I know that big deer like to hang out and travel in areas like this.”
On the afternoon of Nov. 15, Hailey took a 1000 yard hike into such an area, packing along his Browning .280 rifle and his climbing stand. His buddy Beau Jones was hunting in another area across the road from where Hailey was hunting.
“I had found an area on the map where the timber had been thinned but had grown up with thickets and planted pines,” he said. “There is a drain with thickets on both sides that looked like a good bedding area for deer. I got to the area around noon, attached my climbing stand to a big tree and climbed some 30 feet high, which gave me a good view of the thickets where I felt I would have the best chance to see a deer.”
The magic hour
Climbing into his stand around noon, Hailey had to sit for hours without seeing anything. However, he was hoping that as the afternoon passed, something might make a move just before dark as mature bucks are more than likely to do.
“Late that afternoon, half an hour before dark, I began hearing something disturbing the thicket,” he said. “There are lots of feral hogs in this area and I thought maybe it was hogs that were making all the racket. Then I saw a small bush start getting thrashed, even pushed all the way to the ground before it popped back up and then a big buck stuck his head out and I said to myself, ‘oh my gosh’! The set of antlers really got my attention.”
The buck walked about 10 steps out of the thicket into a small clearing giving Hailey a quartering away shot. After the shot, the buck ran, fell and ran again before falling for good.
“I called my buddy Beau, who was hunting across the road from me, to tell him what I’d shot and he whispered, ‘I’m looking at a big buck’, and he hung up on me,” Hailey laughed. ‘ Seconds later, I heard him shoot and found out he had downed a nice 8-point buck.”
Hailey’s prize buck had a rack of 13 points with a 21-inch inside spread and big bases with mass throughout the rack. He took the deer to his taxidermist who determined the buck was quite old, perhaps as old as 8 years. Measurements of the rack were determined to be 160 6/8 inches of bone.