On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2023, Many resident Ryan Masters, Assistant Fire Chief for the Natchitoches Fire Department, put his scope on a magnificent Sabine Parish buck, a trophy that measured 158 2/8 inches of antler mass.
As impressive as this was, turn the calendar back to Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, 2019, when then 47-year-old Masters downed a 172 6/8 inch 10-point buck. Comparing photos of that buck with the one he got this year, it is almost certain that this year’s buck was a son to the one from four years ago. That buck we wrote about for Louisiana Sportsman in 2019 was given the nickname “Hercules.”
Both bucks had the same frame. G2s on both sides were almost identical, each had a kicker off the G2 and the curl of the main beams were almost exactly the same, Masters said.
The Masters family has a goal of producing the most impressive bucks possible on their 3300 acre Whitetail Masters Hunting Club in the piney hills of rural Sabine Parish.
“We set out sometime around 2015 to prove to ourselves that we could consistently produce mature bucks in the 130-140 class in an area not known for producing big deer,” Masters said. “One of the things we did was adopt the Midwest rules where only one buck per year can be taken by a hunter and it has to be at least 5 ½ years old.
“We developed a supplemental food product high in protein, MT Trophy Blend, Antler Accelerator. In addition, we thin and mulch our lanes and plant purple top turnips and oats. The deer have really responded to what we do and we’re producing some impressive bucks.”
The buck he got this year was given the nickname of “Cockeyed.” Photos of him from a year ago showed a nice rack on one side while the other was somewhat malformed. Therefore, Masters’ wife thought the rack looked rather “cockeyed” and gave him this unusual name.
Cockeyed shows up
On Nov. 10, Masters hunted that morning and his phone malfunctioned. He went back home and was able to check his phone that showed the buck had shown up on his trail camera about 2:00 that afternoon. Masters went back to his stand but the buck was a no-show.
“I was on my stand early the next morning and a buddy hunting nearby heard a shot and texted to see if it was me,” he said. “I said no, hung up the phone looked up and the buck was crossing the lane. Then I hit my grunt call and he came out at 80 yards. I shoot a Browning 30.06, got it on him and shot. He ran about 40 yards and piled up.”
Comparing Cockeyed with Hercules, the measurements were almost identical. Hercules sported 10 points; one point had broken off and otherwise he would have been an 11-point, Cockeyed had 11 points.
Hercules had an 18-inch inside spread. Cockeyed was 18 ½. Hercules weighed 185 pounds; Cockeyed weighed 190.
Hercules had a more massive rack and scored 172 6/8; Cockeyed scored 158 2/8. Each buck was 5 ½ years old.
“From all the photos of both deer, I can’t help but believe that Cockeyed was the son of Hercules,” Masters said. “Getting both bucks, likely father and son, on Veteran’s Day exactly four years apart, made it even more special.”