Last deer season, Shawn Key and other hunters on his dad’s Union Parish hunting club had photographs of a buck that was questionable. The left side of the buck’s rack was normal but on the right side, there were some extra points and stickers that caused the guys to decide he was a cull buck and perhaps needed to be removed from the herd.
“His rack was weird looking but after first thinking we needed to take him, we decided to give him another year to see what he’d look like,” Key said. “I’m glad we did because he turned out to be something really special this season.”
Key, 28, works for his grandfather, who owns and operates Big Star grocery store in Farmerville. Before the beginning of this season, a strange looking buck began showing up on cameras at the club. After studying the photos, the group realized that this big buck with a weird rack which included an extra main beam was the one they called a cull last season.
“Once we realized it was the same deer and he had really put on some impressive headgear, we had him targeted for taking this season if we got the chance,” Key said.
Dad knows best
The buck was showing up regularly on daylight photos prior to season opening and then he simply disappeared; there were no photos of him for some three weeks.
“We thought he had either relocated to another area of another hunter had shot him,” Key said. “It was sort of a mystery in view of the fact he had been a regular on the club.”
On the afternoon of Oct. 29, Key was getting ready to head for a deer stand and since the big buck was a no-show, he decided to hunt another club where he holds membership. However, his dad talked him into going back to his club feeling that the big buck could show up any day.
“I traveled to my dad’s club and crawled into a stand where we had a camera out along with feed out front of the stand,” Key said. “After sitting a while, a small 4-point buck came out to feed. Then here came a fox across the plot and shortly thereafter, two does came to the feed. I watched them for probably an hour. Later two more does came out way down the lane at 250 yards or so and they came to the feed. However, they appeared nervous and kept looking back from the direction they had come.”
Moment of truth
Keeping an eye on the nervous does, Key caught movement far down the lane in the area from which the does had come. He saw a big bodied deer and picked up his binoculars to see what it was.
“Once I got him in my binoculars, I saw it was the big buck with an extra main beam so I picked up my Whelan 35 and watched as the buck continued on down the lane to where the does were feeding.” he said. “The does left in a hurry as he approached but he was more interested in the feed I had on the ground than the does because he started feeding.
“He was facing me the whole time and I started shaking as all I was looking at was him facing me. He finally turned a bit as I cocked the hammer on my gun. Then he turned as if he was headed off the plot which gave me a brief broadside look and I shot.”
The buck kicked as if he was hit and then took off. Key texted his dad and buddy and told them he had just shot the big buck. Then something happened that caused him to wonder if he’d made a good shot.
“I stayed in the stand waiting for dad and my friend to come when I looked up and out stepped a doe,” Key said. “Then a 6-point and a nice 8-point buck came out acting as if nothing had happened. I thought about taking the 8-point assuming I had messed up on the big one but decided I didn’t want to get in trouble with the law in the event I shot two bucks the same day, so I waited for them to come.”
The pay off
Waiting until near dark to begin the search, the search party followed a blood trail to where the big buck had expired. The buck weighed 205 pounds and was aged at 4 ½ years old.
The rack carried 11 points with an extra main beam measuring 17 inches long with an overall score of 153 6/8 inches.