18-point deer roughed out at 160 inches Boone & Crockett.
The vast majority of deer hunters in Louisiana look for their quarry from the vantage point of elevated stands. Many also utilize trail cameras to give them an idea of what they’re hunting.
Slaughter resident James Phelps, 27, relies on neither: He does most of his hunting from the ground and doesn’t use trail cameras. That strategy paid off Dec. when Phelps popped a big-bodied, massive-racked 18 point buck that should score in the 160-inch range.
Phelps hunts a 300-acre hunk of real estate owned by a family friend. The land straddles the line separating West Feliciana and East Baton Rouge parishes between Zachary and St. Francisville.
“I have never used trail cameras,” said Phelps, who goes by the alias “dobe” on the LouisianaSportsman.com forum. “To me, it’s too easy to become discouraged when you see the nighttime image of a good buck on the camera but he never shows during daylight hours.
“I just like to take my chances and hope a good one shows up.”
Phelps says that, although he sometimes hunts from elevated stands, his preferred method of hunting is to make sure the wind is in his face and sneak into an area where he knows does hang out, especially during the rut, and sit on the ground.
That’s exactly what he did last Monday afternoon (Dec. 19).
“I’m a chemical operations shift worker, and am currently working nights,” Phelps said. “I got off work that morning and went to bed with the idea of heading for the deer woods that afternoon.
“I was late getting to the woods and didn’t get out of my truck, get my gear together on and head into the woods until around 4 p.m.”
After making sure the wind was in his face, Phelps eased up to an old field where he often saw deer. Sure enough, four does were feeding around two oaks in the field some 250 yards away, and he was able to take a seat next to a tree, pull his binoculars from his pack and glass the area.
“The does were restless and kept looking back toward the woods across the field,” Phelps said. “I had a hunch a buck may be attracting their attention, so I looked down to get my grunt call out of my pack.
“When I looked back up, there was this big buck standing at the edge of the woods eyeing the does.”
One particular doe seemed to attract the buck’s attention, and Phelps was afraid she might head for the woods, taking the buck with her. He made the decision to take the 250-yard shot.
“I had just bought a new Remington Model 700 rifle, .270 caliber, and had never shot a deer with it,” he said. “I put the crosshairs on the shoulder, squeezed the trigger and watched the buck react to the shot and take off farther into the field.”
Quickly chambering another round, Phelps fired another shot and watched the deer stumble and fall. After skinning the buck, only one entry bullet hole was found, indicating the second shot was off the mark.
After waiting some 20 minutes to let the does settle down and leave the field – he didn’t want them to zero in on his location – Phelps walked over to claim his prize.
He was surprised with what he found on the ground.
“The buck was much larger than I thought,” Phelps said. “I noticed that I had my scope on 3 power, but if I’d had it on 8 or 9 power I’d have probably gotten buck fever when I saw how big the deer actually was.”
Indeed, the buck was a brute. Phelps’ scales top out at 200 pounds, and the buck reached that mark with its head and front feet still on the ground. Phelps estimated the actual weight to be in the 230-240 pound range.
The rack more than matched the body.
“I counted 18 points, with another that could possibly qualify,” Phelps said. “The inside spread was 16 inches, main beams were 23 inches each, with huge bases that measured 8 inches on both sides.
“We rough-scored him somewhere in the mid 160s.”
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