Smokey overcomes the fog to find Landreneau’s big buck

Chad Landreneau with his huge 11-point Vernon Parish buck.
Chad Landreneau with his huge 11-point Vernon Parish buck.

Chad Landreneau and his dad put out some deer cameras on their lease along the Sabine River in Vernon Parish after Labor Day. It wasn’t long until a big deer – one he described as “a man among boys” — started showing up at night. When the season rolled around and they began hunting, they targeted that deer with hopes of getting a good shot at it.

Landreneau got his wish on the second day of his vacation, Tuesday, Nov. 9. But it wasn’t easy from there. In fact, when he shot the deer he found no blood, no hair, no sign at all that he had hit the big deer. He was sick. But thank goodness, he didn’t give up and when Clinton Brooks of Brooks Wounded Game Recovery showed up with his dog, Smokey, they saved the day.

Smokey found the big 11-point with a 19-inch inside spread, about 80 yards from where Landreneau shot it. The only problem was, it didn’t shed a drop of blood for more than 50 yards, which made it hard to track. It was Landreneau’s personal best and as Brooks said, “a monster of a deer for these parts.”

Ironically, it was the second day in a row the two had met. On Monday, Landreneau’s dad had shot at a buck and found a drop of blood and a bit of hair, but they couldn’t find any deer. Brooks came with his dogs and tracked it but they determined the deer had just been nicked. When he left, Brooks promised that his dogs were good and if they ever had a chance to redeem themselves, they would.

It didn’t take long.

Smokey saves the day

Tuesday morning was extremely foggy when Landreneau climbed his stand in the Sabine River bottom near the Clear Creek WMA. He couldn’t even see the barrel of his deer feeder after daylight, but he saw something on the ground under it. He looked through his binoculars and he saw what looked like a deer. Then he saw antlers. He raised his rifle and got the deer in the scope. When he was sure it was a deer, he shot. But the deer disappeared into the fog. Landreneau was going to wait about 30 minutes, but after 15 he became excited and went looking for the deer. No sign at all. He walked all around the woods and still no sign.

So he made a return call to Brooks and he came to help again. Brooks was skeptical that the deer was hit since there was no sign, but the dogs worked around through the woods and soon Smokey headed out. Brooks followed and within minutes, he was yelling “Good Boy, Smokey. You found him.” Brooks ran to meet Landreneau and gave him a big hug and said, “You’ve killed a giant, man!” and he led him to his deer.

Landreneau was excited to see his personal best deer. Smokey had redeemed himself. And another big deer story was in the books.

Rare appearance

The big deer hadn’t been seen during daylight hours. When Landreneau checked his game camera card after loading up the big deer, he found something that surprised him. That big deer had visited the feeder that very night at 1 a.m., 3 a.m. and then again at 6:03 a.m.  He had never come out that late, but apparently the fog gave him a sense of security. Landreneau didn’t spot the deer until 6:52 a.m. and shot him at 6:59, so it had probably been standing there feeding in the fog all that time.

“If I learned anything from all this, I’d tell hunters that if you think you made a good shot, do your best to make every effort to find the deer,” he said. “Without Brooks and his dogs, I would have never found that deer and the coyotes would have gotten it. We wouldn’t even be talking about it.”

About Kinny Haddox 597 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.