In heavy fog, Forest Hill hunter thought he was shooting 11-point from trail cams
Hunting in a heavy fog the morning of Oct. 13, Shane Rachal, shot what he thought was a big 11-point buck his trail cameras had identified since summer.
But upon recovery of the buck, he actually found an even more impressive 13-point trophy.
“I had lots of pictures of a wide 11-point buck and when this deer stepped out, I assumed it was him,” Rachal said. “However, the deer I found piled up in the thicket near where I shot him was one we had never seen, and he was more impressive, especially with tine length and mass. The 11-point buck, while being extra wide at what I’d guess would be 22 inches inside, had tines not nearly as impressive.”
Rachal hunts a 250-acre lease he, his dad and brother-in-law hunt in Vernon Parish, an hour away from their home in Forest Hill. He and his brother-in-law are in the construction business together.
“I had hunted the afternoon before and when I got down, I poured a pile of rice bran on a narrow lane 130 yards from my box stand and had plans to hunt the next morning,” Rachal said.
“When I got to the camp, it was extremely foggy that morning and as I slowly made my way on my 4-wheeler down the road toward the stand, I almost gave up because the fog was so heavy.”
Rachal decided to continue on, and parked the 4-wheeler 150 yards from the stand, got his gear and his .45-70 rifle and climbed into the stand.
“Even at 7, it was so foggy, all I could make out down the lane was the white pile of rice bran,” he said. “As it started to get daylight, I pulled out my phone and was flipping through it, waiting until the fog cleared enough for me to see.”
Glancing up from his phone, he suddenly realized he wasn’t seeing the white rice bran any longer — something had stepped between him and the feed.
“I thought at first it was hogs, but then whatever it was moved and I could make out antlers silhouetted against the pile of bran,” he continued.
Peering through his scope which had become blurred with moisture, he wiped itclean, eased his rifle back out the window and waited.
Finally, the big deer stepped broadside, Rachal got the scope on it and squeezed off a round.
“When I shot, I heard the bullet smack the deer, saw him buckle a bit and then disappear,” Rachal said. “I climbed out of my stand and went to where I thought he was standing when I shot and found nothing; no blood, no hair – nothing.”
After looking for awhile, he was puzzled because even though he knew he had hit the deer, he found no evidence.
“I called my brother-in-law asking to bring Bob, my blood-trailing mixed breed dog, but he had to decline because he was at a meeting. I then called my dad who made the hour drive from Forest Hill with Bob.”
Long story short, Rachal’s dad stumbled upon a piece of lung and blood 20 yards nearer than where the hunter thought the deer was standing when he shot.
The big buck had traveled only a few yards before expiring.
“Instead of looking at the 11-point, I was looking at a deer none of us had ever seen, and it was more impressive than the one I thought I shot,” he said.
The buck had 13 scorable points – 15 if you count small points that would hang a ring – and had an inside spread of 16 1/8 inches. Rachal’s cousin, retired Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agent Keith LaCaze, measured the buck and got a gross score of 147 ⅜ inches.