Think back with me to the period from 1959 through 1964. A pair of colorful cartoon creatures, Rocky, a flying squirrel, and Bullwinkle, a moose, entertained kids with their exploits as they faced a pair of villains, Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. The squirrel/moose characters were seldom seen apart; they always did their work together.
For the past several years, a pair of bucks did all their traveling and moving around together and seldom was one seen without the other. Thus, members of M and S Hunting Club in Sabine Parish hung monikers on the pair. One became Rocky; the other Bullwinkle and with the passing of each hunting season, they both grew into impressive animals.
The club started out having a “if if’s brown, it’s down” philosophy. Then, in an effort to grow bigger bucks, M and S began with a 6-point minimum rule; then an 8-point or better rule that evolved into a “only two bucks per hunter” standard. When they realized that just about all the good deer were being taken, a more stringent rule was made that club members could take only one buck a year and it had to be at least five years old.
“After we adopted this rule, we started seeing bigger and more impressive bucks,” said Joel Masters, son of club founder Ryan Masters. “In 2016, my sister shot a buck that weighed 230 pounds, a whopper when you consider that the 3800 acres of our club is mostly pine hill country.”
The club feeds protein throughout the year to maximize antler and body growth and cell phone cameras are utilized to keep up with the deer on the property.
“When opening day came, I knew where I was going to be,” Masters said. “Last season, I had a chance at the buck we call Bullwinkle and I succumbed to buck fever and missed him. This year, I had him as number one on my ‘hit list’ and I spent every chance I had to hunt him.”
Masters said that if Bullwinkle’s running mate, Rocky, had given him the opportunity, he would have taken him but he was really concentrating on having another chance at Bullwinkle, “to redeem my miss last year,” he said. However, a hunter on the club, Chad Dye, had taken Rocky a few days before leaving Bullwinkle alone.
“On the afternoon of Nov. 9, I was on my stand when Bullwinkle stepped out at 65 yards, but he stood facing me and the only shot I had would have been straight on,” Masters said. “For a buck of this caliber, I didn’t want to take the chance at making a bad shot so I had to watch him walk away, never giving me the shot I wanted.
“After having the close call with him, Bullwinkle disappeared for four days. He didn’t show up on any of our cameras so my dad and I decided there was only one other stand on the property that he could have been around. That was a stand we have on a pipeline where you could see 1000 yards and we had a feeder out on the side about 75 yards from the stand.”
Bullwinkle was worth the wait
Masters, 25, was born with spina bifida and is wheelchair bound. He is able to climb into a box stand that has steps and a guard rail to hold onto, and his dad is usually in the stand with him.
On the morning of Friday, Nov. 13, the pair climbed into the stand on the pipeline but a doe “busted” them and they left the stand fairly early, assuming the doe had ruined any chance at the buck.
“We went back that afternoon around 3:00 and sat a couple of hours,” Masters said. “As the hour was getting late, I assumed it wasn’t going to happen today. Then my dad whispered to me, ‘Oh my goodness Joel; he’s at the feeder….get your gun up!’ When I saw him, I got my gun up, cocked the hammer on my 35 Whelan and the second he turned broadside, I shot. All I saw was the muzzle blast and had no idea which way he ran.”
After calling a friend, Lance Hopkins, who has a blood tracking dog, it took only a few minutes to locate the downed buck.
“To be honest, when we found the buck, I was in tears and I high-fived everybody,” Masters said.
The 6 ½-year-old buck sported a symmetrical rack of 8 points with an inside spread of 21 ½ inches with bases of 6 and 6 ½ inches. Total measured mass on the rack was an astounding 37 ½ inches. Bullwinkle’s rack was measured at 147 ½ inches, almost identical to Rocky’s which scored 146 inches.
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