“The Big Thirteen” leaves father, son crying tears of joy

Sometimes the best Christmas presents don’t come wrapped in colorful paper with ribbons and bows. In fact, for 9-year-old Tucker Moses, the best present he received on Christmas morning wasn’t even in a box. Instead, it came in the form of a trail camera picture delivered to his father’s cell phone.

For Hank Moses and his brother, the club land in West Baton Rouge Parish they hunt is a special place.

“It’s where both my brother and I killed our first deer when we were around five or six years old,” he said. “So when we both married and had children, we decided to let the kids do the hunting.”

Hank and his brother usually take a hunt out of state each season, but back on the family hunting club in Louisiana, they take care of the scouting, running trail cameras, planting food plots and cleaning deer, allowing the youngsters to do the actual hunting.

“The Big Thirteen”

The buck named the “The Big Thirteen” was well known by everyone in the area, but for at least two seasons, he had eluded all hunters.

“We had lots of trail camera pictures of him, but almost all of them were at night,” said Hank.

Then, one day last season, the big buck made a mistake and walked out to check several does on a lane that Hank’s brother and nephew were hunting.

He ran out of the woods and into a group of does and then disappeared as quickly as he appeared. The excitement amongst the young hunters now reached a new level, but the season would come to an end without anyone seeing the buck a second time.

According to Hank, the young hunters had each taken nice bucks earlier in the 2022 season, so he and his brother decided that the only buck to be hunted the remainder of the year would be the Big Thirteen. The family continued hunting, moving trail cameras and harvesting a few does in anticipation of the rut and colder weather.

“I’d found a really fresh scrape and decided to put a trail camera on and try to see what bucks were using it,” he said.

Hank and Tucker wouldn’t have long to wait.

Hank and Tucker Moses with the buck Tucker harvested on private property in West Baton Rouge Parish.

A Christmas gift

While opening gifts on Christmas morning, Hank’s cell phone would buzz, announcing he had received a photograph from one of his trail cameras.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “There was the Big Thirteen, right there in the scrape, in broad daylight.”

Hank and Tucker quickly made plans for an afternoon hunt, but once they arrived at the hunting club, Hank realized the wind direction was wrong for the stand that would put them closest to where the buck had been photographed.

They didn’t want to blow their opportunity at the buck, so they chose a different stand. The father and son would see several does and a few small bucks, but not much else.

The following morning would dawn cold and clear with ice formed on the road puddles leading to the stand. The wind was now perfect, which enabled Hank and Tucker to move about 300 yards closer to where the big buck was photographed.

“It was just a perfect morning, cold and still and clear,” Hank said. “And it didn’t take long for deer to start moving. At daylight we had a small 6-point with some does feeding in the lane. Tucker was sitting in my lap and we were actually talking about being ready and making a good shot. Around 7:30, the buck stepped into the lane opening and immediately turned away from Tucker, heading towards a doe. I told Tucker, when he gets to that doe, she’s going to run. When he turns broadside, shoot him.”

At 120 yards, Tucker squeezed the trigger on Hank’s 7mm magnum, dropping the big whitetail in his tracks.

Overcome with emotion

The emotions of putting his hands on a buck scoring 150 ½ inches proved to be too much for both father and son.

“We were both crying with joy, and when I told Tucker we could go back and wait in the stand until my brother picked us up, Tucker wouldn’t leave his buck.”