Relaxing trip to the river ends with 173-inch Livingston Parish trophy

Big 16-point walks out at 25 yards as hunter sits on banks of Amite River.

Jeffrey Doyle just needed a break last Saturday (Dec. 10), so he headed to the most peaceful place near his Walker home – the banks of the Amite River.

“I went back there just to get out of the house,” Doyle said. “I’ve got two little kids, and we had a Christmas party that night. I couldn’t go hunting (at his lease), so I thought I’d sit there and listen to the quiet river.”

He took his rifle just in case, but he was more interested in unwinding before the night’s festivities began. That decision to carry a gun paid off in spades when a 16-point that has been green scored at 173 inches Boone & Crockett stepped out only yards from the hunter.

The kill came about 4:45 p.m., shortly after Doyle stepped out of his truck near a back-down boat launch he uses in the summer to fish the river and settled into a lawn chair kept in place for just such occasions.

Doyle had brought along a drink, and just after sitting down he spilled it.

“I was worried about that, and then I heard something walking behind me,” he said.

The hunter looked into the thicket, and was shocked at what he saw only about 30 yards away.

“All I could see was the tips of the horns through the thicket,” Doyle said.

A buck was slipping through the cover, heading directly for the opening Doyle had used to reach the river banks.

“It seemed like an eternity, but it was really only seconds,” he said.

The buck stepped into the break in the thicket, taking several steps and stopped.

“He knew something wasn’t right,” Doyle said, who said he never looked at the rack after the buck stepped into the clear. “I knew he was a buck, and I knew he had tall horns. That’s all I knew.”

The animal’s instincts were spot on, but uncertainty apparently slowed its reaction.

However, Doyle was facing a problem.

“The week before I had been hunting in West Texas, so I had my scope dialed all the way up,” he laughed. “I couldn’t find the deer in the scope.”

The hunter frantically searched, and finally located the deer’s front leg.

“I just followed the front leg up and found the shoulder, where I thought the shoulder should be, and pulled the trigger,” Doyle said.

The buck bolted at the rifle’s report, and quickly disappeared up the steep bank of a nearby slough – heading right toward where Doyle’s truck was parked.

“From the time I sat down in the chair to the time I shot, it might have been three minutes,” Doyle said.

As the deer made its escape, Doyle caught a quick second glimpse of the antlers sitting atop its head.

“That’s when I thought, ‘That might be a little bigger than I thought it was,’” he said.

The hunter eased over to where the deer was standing, and found absolutely no indication the shot had been true: no blood, no hair, no nothing.

Doyle walked in the direction the deer had fled without finding any blood.

“At that time, I was thinking, ‘I missed that deer,’” he said.

And then he reached the slough the deer had crossed.

“I found a little bit of blood, and when I got to the steep bank I found more blood,” Doyle said.

He quickly reached the top of the slope, and saw the buck – 10 yards from where his truck was parked.

All Doyle could see were antlers, which seemed to grow as he approached the downed deer.

“That’s when I got excited,” he said. “The first picture I took is so fuzzy you can’t even make out it was a deer; that’s how excited I was.”

The deer is a mainframe 10-point, with double split brow tines and several shorter points protruding from the bases of the rack. The inside spread was only 15 1/2 inches, but what it lacked in width was easily compensated for in girth.

“They’re compact, but they’re just massive,” Doyle said.

He said everything about the “hunt” – from the short sit to the deer falling almost next to his truck – seemed purposefully convenient.

“The only inconvenience was I had to go take care of him before the Christmas party,” Doyle laughed.

The only problem is that it appears he’ll have to do something he’s never had any interest in.

“I said I’d never mount a deer,” Doyle said. “I wasn’t going to mount it, but when I said, ‘OK, I’m going to cut the horns off,’ I thought my neighbors were going to kill me.

“They threw the deer in the truck and told me to get in, and they drove to a taxidermist. So it looks like I’m going to have to mount this deer.”

Now the only issue is where he’ll hang the massive deer.

“My wife has already told me I’m not bringing that into the house,” Doyle laughed. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with it.”

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About Andy Crawford 863 Articles
Andy Crawford has spent nearly his entire career writing about and photographing Louisiana’s hunting and fishing community. While he has written for national publications, even spending four years as a senior writer for B.A.S.S., Crawford never strayed far from the pages of Louisiana Sportsman. Learn more about his work at www.AndyCrawford.Photography.