Public land hunting thrills this hard-core deer hunter.
Two years ago, I jumped some deer and a streak of white caught my eye. I thought surely that was brighter than just the white of a tail, but the thick cover of the area left me uncertain.
After setting a camera in the area, the following week my suspicions of the white streak were confirmed when I had multiple pictures of this pretty Mississippi public-lands piebald.Unfortunately, with all the deer I had been killing that season, I started bowhunting Mississippi public land — so I was unable to hunt for her since Louisiana hunters can only shoot legal bucks on their public land.
I saw her one evening walking through a ridge with a pack of does. It was one of the prettiest sights I ever witnessed. She passed a mere 15 yards away while I was bowhunting.
Gosh, having to let her walk was heartbreaking, as this would’ve made the prettiest full-body mount. At least I have the memory of seeing such a rare animal, which will be with me forever.
Later that year on New Year’s Day, I had a beautiful 8-pointer walk directly under my stand and bust me where the piebald once was.
I wasn’t able to capitalize on any kills in my brief Mississippi stretch, but I learned a lot and had a great time on each trip. I also noticed that Mississippi has ample amounts of deer, as I saw multiple deer on almost every hunt.
Be sure to watch the video slideshow of all the public-lands bucks I’ve gotten pictures of in the last two years. Unfortunately, I’ve lost a few nice pictures along the way and had to brighten some pictures to get better views. The dates are wrong in many photos because I don’t always set that. Two of my good buddies who hunt public land shared a few of their pictures, too.
I just started setting cameras two years ago, so my collection isn’t huge. But public-lands bucks are always a pleasure to view, and these pieces of property have plenty of bucks out there for anyone to hunt.
You never know what kind of trophies are lurking in the woods. Every year I find a new creature to go after.
A few years ago it was a giant hog. One morning I swear a locomotive was coming through the woods. Then I saw this massive white creature for the first time. I was able to get a broadside shot on the animal in the front shoulder with my crossbow.
Almost certain of a kill and trying to decide how I’d get this beast to my vehicle, which was 1 1/2 miles away, was a forgotten problem when after a three-hour wait and over 800 yards of blood, the trail dried up with no hog to be found.
Weeks later, my buddy came across a giant white refrigerator in the woods. Yet this was not trash someone dumped in the woods, as the huge white object came to life, grunted and then hopped away with a limp, leaving a flattened trail of picker bushes in her enormous wake.
It was the great white hog I lost. We hunted Red River WMA in this area until season’s end, but we never saw this pig again.
Later that year, I killed a 250-pound hog while squirrel hunting, and the lost white pig was way bigger than that one. I really wanted to mount that white beast. I’m sure one of these years I’ll get a monster pig with huge tusks to mount for scaring kids and camp guests! My friend has a big boar mounted, and its quite the site.
Same goes for hunting bucks. When I get one on my game camera — or better yet jump him, getting to see a brief glimpse of horns — hunting for him becomes twice as fun as hunting an area without any known bucks.
Last year, I posted pictures of the preseason monster in velvet from Three Rivers WMA in my trail-camera article, but after hunting that area hard with no sightings in two months I switched to an even bigger buck I stumbled upon.
I set up a trail camera near a water source in last year’s dry early November. Two weeks later I went to check my camera and found over 17 different bucks had passed there, including the prettiest horns I ever seen. It was a 23-inch-wide 8-pointer that was perfectly symmetrical. I even had a picture of him standing next to a nice-racked buck that he dwarfed. Checking that camera was better than opening Christmas presents.
The following week, I was stalking the area with my crossbow. I came up to a small thicket with the wind in my face, looked hard and continued on slowly.
Two steps later the giant, wide 8-pointer gracefully hoped up from where I just looked only 15 yards away, scurrying off and then stopping about 80 yards in plain view. I will never forget to use a deer call when approaching a thicket on a stalk again.
Sure enough, a few weeks later some lucky kid smashed a monster 13-point on a youth hunt. Then, the next day he shot that wide 250-pound monster buck of my dreams.
Sometimes you get multiple chances; other times you only get that one shot. I should’ve gone back to Three Rivers WMA for the rut to get that preseason, persimmon-eating beauty.
This year they’ve made cameras on Bayou Cocodrie NWR illegal, so I’ll have to find the bucks the old fashion way.
My last report on LouisinaaSportsman.com included the story about the 11-pointer I had a chance at a while back. It was Thanksgiving Day and, as I got to my tree climber, I checked the camera nearby. The big buck I was after had just walked in front of the camera in the darkness. I opted out of the still hunt, and stalked in the direction of his bedding area at first light.
After a series of grunts, he grunted back. Three times this buck called back to me, while I sat tight at the base of a tree, waiting. After a half hour, I continued stalking, only to find out he was in the process of creeping toward me. He busted me at 30 yards without a clean shot.
The following day someone killed him on the three-day gun weekend, during which I decided to bow hunt elsewhere.
Now I’m looking forward to this season to see which big bucks will torment me by showing a quick glimpse of their big horns, leading me on a usually hopeless bow-hunting chase, consuming my every thought until the season ends. But every once in a while I win that battle through sheer luck.
Of all my kills, what I remember most are the ones that got away. The missed opportunities, beginner’s mistakes and the pain of lost animals. The woulda, shoulda, couldas. Trust me there are more than I’d like to admit. This is all part of the trials and tribulations deer hunting public land presents, making it the most-challenging task of all the sports and endeavors I’ve embraced. Capitalizing on a public-land buck gives one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve come to experience.
I’m eager to relive that priceless hunter’s high of connecting with a trophy this season. I’ve been harvesting nearly my limit of deer every year, but it’s been over 200 hunts, one year and 11 months since downing my last racked buck — although I’ve had many close calls while bow hunting.
I plan on another year of nonstop action, as I’ve yet to miss a weekend of hunting in years during October, November, December and January — the only four months which I live for.
I hope everyone out there has a great upcoming hunting season with many unforgettable memories to be made.
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