It was a banner year for Louisiana hunters. Here are the stories of some of the trophy bucks taken during the season.
This hunting season was the first in several years that featured consistently cool weather, and Louisiana’s sportsmen responded by hitting the woods with dreams of big bucks dancing in their heads. Many were not disappointed, taking trophies that will provide plenty of discussion for years to come.
Here are the stories behind some of the biggest deer killed in Louisiana through early January.
The donut buck
George Celles V and his father had somewhere to be on the afternoon of Nov. 26, but they never made it.
The two were hunting a small, private tract of land bordering the Red River near Natchitoches that morning, and the younger Celles was ready to call it a day.
“I had seen a little doe come by, and seen a little 6-point following her,” Celles said. “I couldn’t get him, though.”
That was all the deer that had been sighted by just after 8 a.m., and Celles wanted to head back and get ready for the afternoon.
“I called my dad, and he said we should hunt a little bit longer,” he recalled. “I started eating donuts and drinking something.”
At 8:30 a.m., however, he forgot all about the donuts and the afternoon appointment.
“I looked up, and there was a buck standing there broadside,” Celles said.
The deer was 65 yards from the stand, and it took only a glance for the 18-year-old to know it was a good one.
“I saw it from the side, and I could tell it was a real big rack, but it wasn’t very tall,” Celles said.
The hunter grabbed his rifle, and in the process almost gave his position away.
“I sat up and dropped my donuts on the ground,” Celles said. “He heard something, and looked in my direction, but he didn’t know what it was.”
Celles quickly centered his .30-06 on the deer’s vitals, and squeezed off a shot.
“I dropped him right there,” he said.
The entire incident took only a couple of seconds, and Celles hadn’t even gotten nervous.
“I wasn’t nervous until after I shot,” he said. “But then I started shaking.”
The hunter hurried to the downed deer, and couldn’t believe his eyes. There had been no ground shrinkage on this buck.
“I was just, like, ‘My God,’” he recalled.
The buck had 11 points, but it was the inside spread and mass that blew Celles away.
“It’s 25 ¼ inches wide, inside,” Celles said. “The beams are 6 ½ inches wide at the biggest point.”
The 250-pound beast eventually roughed out at 172 B&C points.
The hunt provided plenty of story material when he headed back to Middle Tennessee State University after the Thanksgiving holiday.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Celles said.
A family affair
Leah Anne Flynn knew on Dec. 22 there was a big buck in the area when she headed for her stand in a stretch of woods north of her hometown of Oak Ridge.
“We caught a big buck on a motion camera,” the 70-year-old hunter said.
That vicarious sighting on the DMAP property was backed up by her son, Wyn McDuffie, who put an arrow in a huge buck on Dec. 2.
“On Dec. 3, my son called and said, ‘I just shot the biggest deer of my life with my bow, but the arrow broke off,’” Flynn said. “He and my husband looked and looked, but couldn’t find it.”
Flynn said she climbed into her stand hoping to see a buck easing by her stand, but she was determined not to shoot anything but a true trophy.
“In 1996, I said I wasn’t going to kill another buck until I found one I could put on the wall,” she said.
Several does slipped out and hung around about 30 yards from her stand not long after she hit the woods that afternoon, and Flynn kept her eyes open for any buck moving in.
About 4:45 p.m., it happened.
“When I turned and looked at the does the second time, he was just standing there,” she said. “He came up out of the ground. He was just standing there at an angle.”
It was a good one, and Flynn didn’t waste any time. She threw up her .257 Roberts, lined the crosshairs up on the buck’s left shoulder and squeezed off a shot.
The buck jerked and took off, and Flynn got on her cell phone with husband Jay, who was hunting elsewhere on the property.
“I told him, ‘I think I killed a good one, but I don’t know,’” she recalled. “You know how they have ground shrinkage.”
Jay Flynn soon made his way to his now-nervous wife, and they quickly found blood.
“We walked a few steps, and he said, ‘There’s your deer,’” she said.
Leah Anne Flynn couldn’t bare to look, worried that she might have shot a buck she should have passed.
“I told him, ‘You go look; I don’t want to look,’” she said. “I heard him say, ‘My God in heaven.’
“I asked if that was a good thing or a bad thing.”
It was a very good thing.
The beast had massive antlers protruding from its 240-pound body. The count of points totaled 12, and even though the antlers didn’t encompass but 15 inches of air, the Flynns knew the buck would score well.
“The mass and tine length were what would score,” Leah Anne Flynn said.
However, her story wasn’t complete.
The Flynns took a few pictures and quickly dropped the buck off to be caped and processed.
“When I went to pick up the meat and cape, one of the boys working there asked who killed the deer,” Flynn said. “I told him I did, and he said, ‘You killed it with a bow?’ I told him, no, I had killed it with a .257 Roberts.
“He said, ‘Well there was an arrow in it.’”
She couldn’t believe her ears. The buck was the exact same deer her son had shot 21 days earlier.
“He shot it in the left shoulder, and the arrow had gone all the way through and lodged in his right shoulder,” Flynn said.
That started making some sense when she thought back about the celebration at the camp.
“When we lifted the deer, blood poured out of a hole in the left shoulder, but we were all looking at the horns, and no one stopped to wonder why that blood was pouring out like that,” Flynn said.
The antlers were entered in the Simmons Sporting Goods’ Big Buck Contest, and roughed out at 167 5/8 Boone & Crockett.
Flynn said the buck will soon hang next to her husband’s trophies.
“We’ve been saving a place n the den for mine, and I finally got one,” she said.
Backup spot pays off
Marksville’s Keith Carmouche loves Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge. The deer-rich public land produced a 130-class 9-point for him on Dec. 10, 2004, and he was back to see if he could follow up on that success.
The 22-year-old hunter had spent about three weeks scouting the area in advance of the muzzleloader hunt, and on Dec. 10, 2005, he hit the woods and walked to his No. 1 spot.
“I had seen a few deer in the area, and I knew there was a good one in there,” Carmouche said. “But when I walked into the area, there was someone hunting there.”
It’s public land, so there wasn’t much Carmouche could do.
“I just backed off and found an area clear of other hunters,” he said.
He set up on a thicket, and waited for the sun to pop out.
About 7:15 a.m., he saw some movement in the thickets. Soon he realized the deer was sporting a rack.
“I really didn’t know he was that big a deer,” Carmouche said. “I knew he had horns, but that was about it.”
The hunter quickly lined up the sights, and touched off his smoke pole.
“I knew I had hit him because his tail was twitching,” Carmouche said. “He ran farther into the thicket.”
As the buck sought escape, the hunter caught a better view of the rack, but Carmouche still had no idea what he had killed.
After waiting a short time, he hurried over to find blood.
He tracked the animal a short way, and couldn’t believe what he found.
“I was shocked,” he said.
The 11 points stretched 19 ½ inches wide, and the buck’s body was massive.
“I pulled him about 30 yards, and realized there was no way,” Carmouche said. “I walked out and tried to call my dad, but he didn’t answer.”
One of the rangers agreed to help retrieve the buck, which was then green-scored at 142 B&C.
Carmouche’s father said the hunt on Dec. 10, 2006, should be interesting.
“He said I’m going to have a convoy following me next year,” he chuckled.
Really, Dad, it’s big
Stephani Stephens was only 14 years old when she climbed into the box stand on Dec. 21, but her experience belied her years.
“I killed my first deer when I was 7,” the Wisner hunter said. “I’ve been hunting a long time.”
She would need every bit of that experience on this hunt.
Stephens knew a good buck was in the area because her mother had sighted the deer two evenings before.
“She said she had seen a buck running does pretty far away, but couldn’t tell how big it was,” Stephens said.
About 3:30 p.m., a doe slipped out of the woods right under her stand. The deer eased across the food plot, and Stephens was on the alert.
“About 20 minutes later, the buck came out looking for the doe,” she said. “It was on the edge of the woods.”
The young hunter didn’t take a lot of time to check out the deer, which was about 80 yards away.
“I just put the gun up and shot it,” Stephens said. “I wasn’t nervous at all, until after I shot.”
The deer bolted, and nerves really took hold of Stephens.
“I thought I had missed,” she explained.
However, she called her father and asked him for help looking for the deer.
Soon, the two were combing the edge of the food plot, and her father soon saw the buck.
“He was amazed,” Stephens said. “He didn’t believe that it was that big when I told him about it.”
The young girl also was surprised, however, when she got a close-up view of her kill. The animal weighed in at 225 pounds and sported 12 points and an 18-inch inside spread. The rack eventually roughed out at 149 4/8 B&C.
“I was really excited. I didn’t believe it was that big, either,” she said.
Better lucky than good
Willard Iman had been hunting a single buck for two seasons, although he had never set eyes on the animal.
“On his right front foot, the toes overlapped, so I could tell him from the other deer by his tracks,” the Priceton hunter said. “All I could tell was that he was a big deer.”
During his two-year search for the owner of the twisted hoof, Iman had set up all over the tract of land outside of Bossier City. It was to no avail, however.
“He outsmarted me every time I moved,” he said.
The deer lived on National Guard property, and Iman was allowed to hunt it because one of his sons is a lieutenant in that branch of the military.
However, the property had rules: Hunters were required to kill a doe before taking a buck.
So on Nov. 19, Iman headed for a food plot that had been holding a group of does.
“Two days in a row, I snuck up on the food plot trying to kill a doe,” he said. “Both days, they saw me or something, and spooked.”
On this day, Iman was determined not to scare them off. He went in early, carrying his climbing stand ¾ of a mile and climbing 30 feet up a pine tree overlooking the green patch.
“I sat there from 1:05 until 4:20,” he said.
That’s when he caught some movement along the edge of the woods.
“I could see it in the brush,” Iman said. “It was skirting that food plot about 50 yards in the woods.
“I could see the deer moving, but I could never see the horns.”
The buck eased around the plot, moving toward Iman’s hideaway. Finally, it stepped under a red oak tree, and Iman caught a glimpse of antlers.
“I could just see the fork on one side sticking out from behind the tree,” Iman said.
Still not knowing how big the buck was, the hunter lined up his crosshairs in preparation for a shot.
“When he stepped clear of the tree, I pulled the trigger,” Iman said.
The buck took off across the food plot, and Iman finally got a pretty good look at the crown of antlers above the deer’s head.
“I said to myself, ‘Jiminy, what is that?’” he recalled.
The deer fell just about where Iman first spotted him, and the hunter quickly climbed down the tree and eased over to his fallen prey.
It was the same deer he had been tracking.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw the buck,” he said. “I never even counted the points.”
The hunter headed for his four-wheeler, but couldn’t lift the beast.
“I couldn’t pick up one end of him,” Iman said.
He then used three ratchet straps to lift the deer high enough to put onto his ATV, and headed back to show off his kill.
The pigeon-toed buck had 17 measurable points, with three more that didn’t quite make the score. It also weighed in at 230 pounds, and had incredible mass.
“You can’t even come close to reaching around the horns, even around the G3s and G4s,” Iman said.
And, although he had spent many days trying to kill the buck, Iman recognized that the kill had more to do with luck than skill.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” he said. “He was skirting that food plot looking for does, and I just happened to be there.”
The buck green scored 161 5/8 for the Simmons Big Buck Contest.
Fetch the deer, Milo
Bobby Bryant Jr. didn’t have any idea there was a big buck in the area when he crawled into his stand Nov. 17. He was overlooking an old road on which he had scattered some corn.
About 5 p.m., a couple of does crept out and started munching on the golden nuggets, and Bryant was enjoying the show.
Fifteen minutes later, however, the Montgomery hunter sat bolt upright.
“He came out there and ate corn,” Bryant said. “It was like a picture on a postcard. He was just standing there broadside.”
Bryant knew it was a buck, but he couldn’t tell how large its rack was.
“When I seen him out there crunching corn, the sun was going down, and the trees were throwing shadows,” he said. “I really couldn’t tell how big he was.”
The hunter snatched up a pair of binoculars to try and get a better look, but he thought he had messed up.
“The deer lifted his head and looked in my direction,” Bryant said. “Then I knew he had a good rack, a tall rack.
“But I still didn’t know how many points.”
Bryant was a bit shaken by the turn of events, so he didn’t take the shot immediately.
“I took time to get my composure,” he said. “I was fixing to pull the trigger, and I knew I was going to pull my gun.”
Finally, Bryant lifted his rifle again, put the crosshairs on the deer and pulled the trigger.
The deer streaked into the woods, and Bryant waited a few minutes.
“After I shot, I couldn’t find any blood,” he said. “That’s when the nervousness started. I thought I had missed him.”
After another few minutes of searching for a blood trail, Bryant headed back to the get his father, son and dog to see if they could track down the buck.
“We got to looking and searching, but we couldn’t find any blood,” he said. “So we went to the woods where he ran off, and let Milo (the dog) start working.”
It didn’t take long for the dog to begin getting worked up, and the Bryants followed the excited puppy deeper into the woods.
“My dad looked up with the light, and said, ‘There’s your deer, right there,’” Bryant said. “It was just like a weight fell off me.”
The deer had been hit in the right front shoulder, and the bullet went all the way through. It had only run about 50 yards into the woods before hitting the ground, but Bryant said there was almost no blood loss.
“When we were pulling him out, every now and then we’d see a little spot of blood, but that was it,” he said.
The buck was an 11-pointer, with the main beams enclosing 17 3/8 inches of air. The right base measured 4 ¾ inches, while the left base was 5 1/8 inches around.
It taped out at 168 2/8.
“It’s a lifetime deer,” Bryant said. “I give all the credit to the good Lord. He kept me calm enough to where I could hit it.”
Change of plans
Thirty-four-year-old Chris Mangrum was supposed to hunt deer in Iowa with some buddies this season, but the crew failed to draw the required tags.
They were disappointed, but decided not to let that stop them from hunting. Mangrum called the folks at Willow Point, and set up a bow hunt for the first week of November.
“That was my fifth trip over there,” Mangrum said. “I had seen a lot of bucks there, but I hadn’t shot one yet.”
The trip wasn’t during the best time, with the rut still weeks away, but Mangrum said the weather was perfect.
“We had that little cold snap move through,” he said.
The Bastrop hunter had the opportunity to kill four bucks that first morning.
However, Mangrum said a huge 8-point that would score as high as 145 Pope & Young stayed just out of range, and the hunter decided to wait.
“I told the manager that I wanted to go back in there, but I wanted to go to another spot where I saw the 8-point,” Mangrum said.
The deer moved early the morning of Nov. 1.
“At 6 a.m., I had a 130-class deer right under me, but I didn’t shoot it because I had seen that 8-point,” Mangrum said.
The deer fed off, but at about 8 a.m. the big 8-point and a second buck came out and fed under a bean tree for about 45 minutes. They were about 70 yards away.
“The 8-point walked right under the tree I was in the morning before,” Mangrum chuckled.
That turned out to be good news, however.
The second buck was no slouch. It sported 11 points, and was thickly palmated.
And it was moving closer to the anxious Mangrum.
“I lasered a tree, and it was 44 yards away,” he said. “When the buck walked in front of the tree, I shot.”
The deer ran about 40 yards and fell.
That wasn’t the end of the action.
“Thirty minutes after I shot, I had another buck come in and feed under me for 30 mintues,” Mangrum said.
When he was finally picked up by one of the guides for the commercial hunting operation, it was decided to wait and give the deer plenty of time to die.
That gave Mangrum time to worry, even though he estimated the buck would score about 150 P&Y.
“At the camp, everybody was asking me about it, and I thought, ‘This deer may not be as big as I think it is,’” he said.
Finally, it was time to go retrieve his trophy.
“When Rodney (Crimm of Willow Point) walked up to it, he said ‘Do you realize how big this deer is?’” Mangrum said. “He estimated it would go 160.”
The buck’s rack was massive, with heavy palmation all the way up the main beams.
“People called it a baby moose,” Mangrum joked.
That mass pushed the 215-pound deer’s score to 161 7/8.
“They had a photo of the deer on a trail cam,” Mangum said. “I killed it 1 ½ miles from where they pictured it.”
Better late than never
Lake Providence’s Mark Brown had to run in to work for a few hours on Dec. 21, but he left his son Neal at his East Carroll Parish hunting camp.
Neal Brown was only 11, but he was always one of the first to get up and hit the woods.
This morning, however, the young Brown slept in. When he finally awoke, though, Neal Brown hurriedly put his camo on, grabbed his 7mm-08 and headed to a stand inside the woods.
“He didn’t want to have to tell me he didn’t leave the camp when I got back,” Mark Brown laughed.
The young hunter climbed into the metal box stand about 10 a.m., and waited.
“I didn’t see a deer until 11:45,” he said.
That’s when a deer came ambling through the woods directly toward his stand.
“It was walking to me at about 300 yards,” Brown said. “It just kept on walking toward me until he was about 45 yards away.”
Long before the deer reached that point, Brown had seen the antlers decorating the buck’s head.
“He was right out in the open, and I watched him for about five minutes,” he explained.
Many veteran hunters would have been shaken by the huge rack dancing above the buck, but Brown said he was concentrating too hard on getting a shot to be rattled.
“I was trying to shoot him, but he was walking and it was hard,” he said. “When he got about 45 yards away, my gun hit the stand and made a loud noise.
“He stopped and looked at me.”
Brown, thinking the buck would spook, finally got a case of nerves.
But the buck simply stood there, trying to figure out the noise.
Brown carefully took aim, and squeezed off a shot.
“He limped away into the woods,” the young hunter said. “I knew he couldn’t go far. The reason I didn’t shoot again is I saw him fixing to fall.”
After a few anxious minutes, Brown climbed from his stand and hurried to look for blood.
“I couldn’t find blood anywhere,” he said. “I looked for an hour.”
He was about to head back to the camp to get help when his cousin, Michael Brown, drove up on his ATV and asked if Neal Brown had shot anything.
“I told him about the deer, and he helped me look for another 30 minutes,” Neal Brown said.
The two finally headed back to the camp, where Neal Brown told the story between bites of lunch.
By that time, his father was back at the camp, and joined the search for the big buck.
“We didn’t find a drop of blood or anything,” Neal Brown said.
Finally, after another 1 ½ hours of searching, the downed animal was found.
“My cousin, Michael, just walked up on it,” Neal Brown said.
His shot had been true, and should have left a major blood trail.
“I hit him right in the chest, and it went through and came out the side,” Neal Brown said.
The group of hunters was shocked at the size of the deer.
“He was way bigger than I thought he was,” Neal Brown said.
The 10-point rack encompassed more than 18 ½ inches of air, and had great mass.
In fact, the rack was far more impressive than the deer’s body size. Neal Brown said it weighed only about 150 pounds.
“It was a young deer,” he said.
The buck scored 154 B&C points.
Welcome home, soldier
By GLYNN HARRIS
U.S. Army First Sergeant Todd Tracy served in Iraq for 13 months recently, being deployed out of his base at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.
Tracy and his family came to Coushatta on leave during the Christmas holidays to visit his wife’s family with one goal in mind — he wanted to spend every hour he could on a deer stand.
Tracy found the Red River Parish deer stand to offer much more than therapy for him. He eventually found a monster buck in the cross-hairs of his scope.
Tracy’s father-in-law, Chris Craig, has permission to hunt 300 acres in Red River Parish, and was happy his son-in-law could join him for the hunt.
“This is old farm land not that far from the Red River that is fertile and capable of growing some good deer,” Craig said. “I was only too glad to get Todd home and to have him join me to hunt this area, especially after he came in from one of his earlier hunts to animatedly tell me he had seen ‘the man,’ the huge buck he would eventually have a crack at.”
It was a man indeed.
“I got to Coushatta on Saturday (Dec. 17), and was in a deer stand that afternoon,” the 36-year-old soldier explained. “My father-in-law had everything set up for me.
“Late that afternoon, I had seen several deer, and was really enjoying just getting to be out there after my tour of duty in Iraq. I looked far down the opening I was watching, and saw a monster buck chasing a doe at a distance of probably 500 yards. I could tell even at that distance that this was no ordinary buck. His rack was huge.
“I sat on the same stand Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, and although I saw a number of other deer, I didn’t see the one I was after.
“I went back Monday afternoon and was fortunate enough to spot the buck again, this time from a distance of at least 800 yards. Even at that distance, I could see that he had a massive rack.”
There was another stand farther down the clearing, and closer to where Tracy had seen the big buck. He made the decision to sit in this stand for his Tuesday morning hunt.
“I hunted all morning without seeing the big buck, but after seeing him twice, I was determined. So that afternoon, I went back to the stand.
“At a little after 5 p.m., I was tired. I’d just gotten in on leave and had hunted morning and afternoon every day I’d been back. So I determined that the buck was not going to show up, and I decided to end the hunt and go home. I had started gathering up my gear to climb down from the stand when I happened to look up at the same time the big buck stepped out at about 80 yards.
“The rest of the story is rather boring. I shoot a Remington .308, and I put the crosshairs behind his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The buck ran about 25 yards and dropped.”
What Tracy found when he walked up to the buck exceeded his dreams. The buck carried a massive non-typical rack consisting of 31 points with a 26 ½-inch inside spread. The big buck, which weighed 202 pounds, was green-scored at Simmons Sporting Goods in Bastrop at 246 Boone and Crockett points. Tracy later had the buck scored on the Buckmasters scale, where the score topped out at 254 4/8 points.
No matter what the final dry score eventually reads, 1st Sgt. Todd Tracy got all the therapy he could ever need and he’ll undoubtedly put his name in the Louisiana record books for having taken one of the highest-scoring non-typical bucks in the state records.
He’ll also have plenty to tell his buddies — with photos to prove it — when he returns to Hawaii.
Skinny dippin’ buck
By TODD MASSON
Brandon Dozar, 22, of Denham Springs had an experience with shrinkage — but not ground shrinkage — when he harvested a monster buck last month.
Dozar had a successful deer season leading up to New Year’s Day. He shot a doe on opening morning, and watched 90-100 more during the course of the following weeks, passing on each in hopes of downing a big buck.
That’s not bad for a guy in only his second season of deer hunting, especially considering his hunts were as a guest on his father’s small-tract lease in West Feliciana Parish.
The New Year’s Day hunt started just as so many of his previous outings had: Dozar got up before the sun, and at 6 a.m. climbed into a box stand on the pipeline where he had seen so many does.
On this morning, the does were again active, and the neophyte hunter could hear chases in the woods all around him.
“The wind was blowing down the pipeline, so I knew I had to make a move,” he said.
At 8 a.m., he did just that.
“I scouted around a little bit, always moving slowly and hunting while I was scouting,” he said.
He eventually ended up on the edge of a thicket overlooking a field that he knew a big buck liked to frequent.
“I had heard him (on previous hunts) moving around,” he said. “He sounded like a freight train moving through that thicket.”
At 9:03 a.m., that monster appeared on the edge of the field.
“He stopped behind a tree, then he ran to another tree,” Dozar said. “It was almost like he was trying to sneak across the field.”
Finally, the animal ran out into the open, and stopped on a small hill between two ponds, about 100 yards from Dozar.
The hunter stood, pulled his .270 to his shoulder, positioned the crosshairs on the deer’s lungs, and pulled the trigger.
“I heard the thud, and he tucked his tail and ran off into the thicket. I could see the horns sticking above the thicket,” Dozar recounted. “He kept making all these sick grunting noises, and then he ran into the lake.”
Through wide eyes, Dozar watched the buck walk and swim in circles in the 4-foot-deep water.
“He was doing like a fish does when it’s dying,” he said.
Finally, the animal expired, and the head sunk, leaving only the tail poking above the water’s surface.
Dozar didn’t want to lose his trophy, so he did what any buck fever-stricken hunter would do: He stripped down to his skivvies, and waded in to retrieve his buck.
At around 60 degrees, the air temperature was relatively warm, but the water sure wasn’t.
“I put my feet in, and I said, ‘Oooh, this is cold.’ I didn’t care, though. I wanted to get that buck,” he said.
The monster 9-point weighed 210 pounds and sported a 22-inch inside spread. Dozar’s taxidermist green-scored it at 155 B&C. n
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you or someone you know killed a monster buck this season, let us hear from you. E-mail your story and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail the information (including telephone number) to Todd Masson, P.O. Box 1199, Boutte, LA 70039.