We all have that one hunt that sticks in our minds. Here are four memorable trips afield.
What makes a memorable deer hunt? Is it bagging a trophy buck, making a successful stalk, watching your child get their first deer, or something else?
To be honest, I find it difficult to pick my favorite hunt, so out of curiosity I asked four people to describe theirs. Not surprisingly, each one’s hunt was unforgettable for different reasons.
Killing a trophy buck is what made Dec. 1, 1973, so memorable for Paul Green.
That afternoon, his son Tommy and friend Jack Nelson talked him into making a dog drive near his Winn Parish home.
“I knew where two big bucks had been bedding up on a little ridge out in a cutover glade and said we could go try it,” the elder Green said.
The ridge was near a pipeline, so Green told Nelson and his son to take up stands there.
Leading his three dogs to the glade, Green was surprised to discover it filled with water that nearly topped his rubber boots. Luckily, his hounds were able to navigate through it and quickly jumped the two deer.
The bucks split up, with one heading toward the pipeline — but Nelson and the younger Green had stopped short of the glade, and the buck loped across out of range.
The other two dogs chased the second deer out of hearing, but it eventually turned and came back.
Green quickly climbed up the trunk of a fallen tree so he could see over the thick briars.
“I could hear the deer coming through the water a long way off, and when he came in view the water was just spraying out in front of him,” he said. “I had No. 1 buckshot in my 12-gauge, and when he popped up over the bushes, I’d shoot. Then he would disappear. Then he would come up, and I’d shoot again.
“I did that three times, and he never even flinched.”
After those shots, however, the deer gave the hunter a bit more to work with.
“Finally, he stopped, and all I could see was his head,” Green said. “I had two bear balls in my pocket, so I loaded them and shot where I thought his shoulder was.
“He just stood there looking around, so I fired the other bear ball — and he disappeared.”
Green jumped down from the tree and pushed through the briars to the buck, just as the dogs reached it.
He later discovered that nine buckshot and one slug had found their mark.
The huge 8-point weighed 305 pounds, but was not measured for the Boone & Crockett records.
Nonetheless, state biologists said it was one of the largest deer killed in Louisiana that year.
Following are some other memorable hunts.
A buck to remember
Alissa Laborde’s most-memorable hunt was when she took her first buck with a bow.
After a predawn prayer for a safe hunt, she and husband Clark walked in the dark to her stand. It was obvious that deer were on the move.
“We could hear them all around us,” Alissa remembered. “The camera Clark set up was even flashing.”
Clark dropped Alissa off at her lock-on stand before proceeding to his own.
Shortly after daylight she saw a button buck and spike approaching from behind her right shoulder.
“I watched them eat rice bran for about 20 minutes, and then they moved on out of view,” she said.
About an hour and a half later, something caught Laborde’s attention.
“I heard leaves shuffle but wasn’t quite sure where it was coming from,” she said. “I thought it might be that spike again, so I looked back to the right lane but couldn’t see anything. As I slowly turned my head straight forward, there he was: Right in front of me, at 14 yards, was a huge 8-point standing almost broadside.
“His head just happened to be behind a skinny pine tree, and I thought to myself, ‘Man, I better hurry up if I’m going to shoot him because this is probably my only chance.’”
Despite her excitement, Laborde managed to stand, pick up her bow and draw the arrow in one fluid motion.
“It was so hard to pull back that bow,” she said. “I was shaking almost uncontrollably and had to tell myself ‘Stop it! You’re going to mess up if you don’t pull yourself together!’”
She finally was ready for the shot.
“I took a small breath, put my pin just behind the shoulder and let go,” Laborde said. “When I heard the hit, I knew it was good. He hadn’t run very far when I saw a patch of white from his belly as he flipped over and struggled to get back on his feet.”
The 3 1/2-year-old deer weighed 168 pounds.
“It was a day I will never, ever forget,” Laborde said.
A walk down memory lane
Nostalgia and a beautiful blanket of snow is what made Mason Jones’ favorite hunt. He grew up in North Alabama, where he and his father sometimes hunted on the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge during its two-week flintlock-only deer season.
The family eventually returned to its native Louisiana, but a few years ago Jones decided to revisit his childhood haunts with a flintlock his dad made for him.
It was bitterly cold and snow blanketed the woods, but that wasn’t the only challenge Jones faced.
“You can’t take four-wheeled vehicles off the main roads in Wheeler, so I had to walk about a mile and a half to get deep into the woods where the deer were,” Jones said. “I was the only one out there that day and had the whole woods to myself. The road I followed had all these snow-covered limbs hanging down over it. It was really pretty.”
Jones found some hardwoods bordering a thicket and immediately saw a spike when he hunted it the first day.
“The next day, I went back to that same spot and saw a big 8- or 10-point that was off in the distance feeding away from me,” he said. “I tried to sneak up on him but just couldn’t close the distance.”
Jones continued stalking, and later he saw another good 8-point.
Returning the next day, he found a large tree with a U-shaped trunk that he could sit against comfortably.
“About an hour and a half after daylight I heard something behind me and twisted around,” Jones said. “There was a good 4-point broadside just 15 yards from the tree. He never even saw me, and I waited until he put his head down to raise my rifle.
“I was using a 50-caliber round ball and hit him right in the heart.”
Killing the deer turned out to be the easy part.
“I had to go back to the truck and get my deer cart,” Jones said. “I had worn chest waders in order to stay dry in all that snow, but I was still soaking wet from sweat by the time I got him back to the truck.”
Reflecting on the hunt, Jones explained why it’s his favorite.
“Every deer I saw was a buck,” he said. “The one I killed wasn’t very big, but it was pretty neat to go back where I grew up and kill a deer in the snow with a flintlock that my dad made.”
The Titanic hunt
Some memorable hunts do not even result in a kill. Just ask Dr. Laura Jobe about the one she made with her father the day her family was having its Thanksgiving dinner.
To get to their box stand on a small pipeline, the duo had to use a john boat to cross a slough. The boat had several inches of water in it from recent rains, but Jobe’s dad decided it would be too noisy to empty and proceeded to scull across to the stand.
“We were sitting there less than an hour when a doe walked out onto the pipeline,” Laura Jobe said. “Unfortunately, I missed it, and we decided to find another location. So we trekked back to the boat, climbed in and dad started paddling us back across the slough.
“I remember turning toward him to ask a question when I noticed water pouring into the boat.”
The rainwater had settled at the bow where Jobe’s father was sculling, and the extra weight caused the bow to sit low in the water. When he shifted his weight, water rolled over the gunwale.
Jobe pointed frantically and yelled, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!”
“He looked at me, and then where I was pointing and said ‘Come here!’” Jobe said. “I stood up and made my way over to him as the boat continued a slow descent. It then hit bottom, and we were relieved to discover it was only about hip deep.
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t wearing waders like dad was and sloshed to shore in the freezing water while he collected our things that were floating off.”
They then headed out of the woods.
“Back at the truck, I told him I was OK to continue hunting as soon as I changed, only to realize that my extra clothes were at my grandmother’s house,” Jobe said. “So I used his, but we had to make an extra belt hole to hold up the pants.”
Despite the unfortunate turn of events, Jobe and her father kept their sense of humor.
“Throughout the day, one of us would chuckle about the situation,” she said. “Dad even said that we should have sung that song from the movie Titanic that had recently come out.”
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