West Monroe’s L.E. Bower Jr. wasn’t planning to hunt when he headed to his Ouachita Parish lease Sunday (Dec. 27) after attending church and eating lunch with the family.
“I was really preparing for Monday (Dec. 28) to take my granddaughters hunting,” Bower said. “I was going to put some corn out. I really didn’t have any real intention of hunting that afternoon.”
The original plan was to take 16-year-old granddaughter Brandi Bower with him and sit a few hours. But the youngster finally opted for a shopping trip instead.
So the elder Bower’s goal was to simply put the corn out and sit a stand to see what was moving about so he’d be prepared for the next day’s hunt.
On the way, however, things just started stacking up against him. It was almost as if fate just didn’t want him in the woods.
“I got stopped by a train, and that held me up 15 minutes,” Bower said.
So when he stopped to pick up a bag of corn, he was in a big hurry. Too much of a hurry, it turned out.
“I was in such a hurry being stopped by the train that I forgot the corn at the store,” Bower said. “I didn’t realize that I had forgotten it until I got to the club, so I had to go back to the storm and get the corn because that was the reason to go out there to start with.”
Finally, he was ready to put the corn out and sit his stand at 3 p.m. So he jumped on his ATV and just ripped a hole in the corn sack, letting the kernels pour out along the shooting lane.
At the last minute, he decided to carry his rifle.
“Really and truly, I didn’t plan on taking my rifle in the stand,” Bower said. “I was just going to sit and watch, but I decided to take the gun in case a good buck came out.”
For the next two hours, the hunter kept a casual watch over the shooting lane. But when 5 p.m. arrived, Bower was ready for action.
“That’s what my granddaughters and I call the ‘magic time’ because that’s when our deer really move,” he explained.
Bower took off his glasses to clean them when he glanced down the shooting lane – and saw a buck standing right on the opening’s edge only about 85 yards out.
“I seen it was a good buck, but I didn’t have my glasses on so I couldn’t see it real good,” he said.
For some reason, Bower has never been able to see through his scope clearly with glasses on, so he put the spectacles down and pulled the rifle into place. When he peered through the scope, his heart went into overdrive.
“That’s when I seen horns everywhere,” Bower said. “I’ve never seen a deer like that.”
His heart slammed against his ribcage, the hunter quickly took his eyes off the buck’s head.
“I didn’t want to look at the horns because I’d get really nervous, so I eased the crosshairs to the shoulder and squeezed off the shot,” Bower said.
The deer spun and ran back the way it came, but soon Bower heard the gratifying sound of crashing.
After giving the deer a few minutes to die, Bower climbed down and headed down the shooting lane. There was just one problem.
“I couldn’t find blood nowhere,” Bower said. “I went about 20 or 30 yards too far. I still didn’t have my glasses on.”
Worried he had, in fact, missed, he headed back toward the stand and finally saw the blood trail heading into the thicket on the edge of the shooting lane. He veered off and followed it even though his eyesight was hampered.
“I was squinting and trying to follow the blood trail, and walked right up on him,” Bower laughed. “He liked to have scared me to death: I almost stepped on him before I saw him.”
And he was stunned at the size of the rack, which was far larger than he thought.
“I looked over and saw all those horns, and that’s when I really got nervous,” Bower said.
The excited hunter snatched his cell phone out and called his wife, who didn’t believe a word the man said.
“Every time I counted the points I got a different number,” Bower said. “I told her it was between 20 and 25 points.
“She said, ‘We’ll just see it when you get home.’”
Indeed, the deer sported 27 scorable points that sprouted everywhere around 23-inch main beams that were separated by about 20 inches of air.
“It could have been bigger, but it had a cluster (of tines) broken off,” Bower said.
Even without that missing “cluster” of calcium, Bower’s deer was fantastic. While a Boone & Crockett score wasn’t available by Dec. 30, TP Outdoors meticulously ran a tape along the antlers to arrive at 241 Buckmaster inches.
And what about that granddaughter who chose shopping over hunting with granddad?
“She was about half sick because she almost came with me,” Bower chuckled.
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