In 2000, there was an epic film produced starring Russell Crowe. The film, Gladiator, portrayed Crowe as Maximus who set out to avenge the murders of his family. Maximus became a gladiator and rose through the ranks.
Thirty-three-year-old Joel Masters watched a buck grow in stature over the past few years, rising through the ranks in a manner of speaking, to become the bull of the woods. In honor of the leading character in the film, he gave the impressive buck a special name, Maximus.
Masters and his family lease some 3800 acres of land from a timber company and have held the lease for more than twenty years. The family has done a commendable job of turning the acreage in rural Sabine Parish into a top notch area improving the quality of deer the land is producing. Feeding high protein feed plus maintaining food plots are keys to their success.
Two years ago, Masters put the crosshairs of his scope on one of the trophy bucks on the property. Masters named that buck “Bullwinkle” but he said that Maximus was the more impressive buck of the two.
“A year ago, we had this buck on camera but he was an 8-point probably in the 120-inch class,” Masters said. “This year, he really blew up and he was the buck I wanted to take this season. We have a rule on our club where each member can only take one buck per season and it has to be at least five years old. Maximus was the one I knew I’d be looking for.”
Patience paid off
Born with spina bifida, Masters is basically wheelchair bound and is licensed to take advantage of the special season for physically challenged hunters on Oct. 1-2.
“I was sitting in a ground blind with my dad on Saturday, Oct. 1, when Maximus appeared,” Masters said. “However, the only shot I could have had was straight on at 100 yards and he was too special to risk a questionable shot, so I held off.”
The following afternoon, Masters and his dad were back in the stand and were looking at several does, yearlings and a couple of small bucks.
“While we’re watching the deer, I couldn’t see out of the window to the left so my dad kept an eye out that window,” Masters said, “Suddenly, dad told me to get ready because here he comes.
“It took me a second to find him in my scope and I followed him for 20-30 yards or so as he cleared some trees in the way. When he stopped at the edge of the shooting lane, he was standing broad side so I shot. When I did, all the other deer took off creating dust and I didn’t know if he fell or ran. Then we could see a leg sticking up and it was then I realized I had dropped him on the spot.”
Masters was shooting a Browning 30.06 and once he knew the deer was down, the celebrating started, he said.
The buck sported a symmetrical rack of 10 points with an impressive inside spread of 20 ¼ inches. Bases were over 5 inches each with main beams 26 and 24 inches. The buck was estimated to be 6 ½ years old and was green scored at 156 2/8 inches of mass.
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