Central hunter downs 160-inch monster in Pride

Milstead bags ‘backyard’ trophy 9-point — despite several misadventures along the way

Luke Milstead’s Dec. 7 hunt in Pride probably won’t ever be featured in a “how-to” video on tactics to take down a trophy whitetail.

But that didn’t stop the 24-year-old Central hunter from dropping a giant 160-class 9-point after an unlikely series of events that will probably leave lots of hunters who focus on stealth, scent control and camouflage scratching their heads.

Shortly before his late afternoon hunt that Monday, Milstead accompanied his brother, Darryl Shaffer, and Darryl’s 1-year-old son, Finn, in a golf cart — with a golden retriever in tow — to put out corn and check trail cam cards on 50 acres of family property belonging to his brother’s father-in-law, Joe McGraw.

Milstead never intended on even going hunting that afternoon — he had gone out to Pride to meet his brother after getting off work at Dow Chemical in Plaquemine so the two could tinker with his ailing pickup truck in McGraw’s shop.

“When we made our rounds and put the corn out in the golf cart and rode back to the shop, I said, ‘You know what, dude? It’s going to get dark in an hour. I’m going to go sit on that stand until dark, and then we’ll mess with my truck when I get out.’”

His brother had to babysit Finn, and they couldn’t work on the truck anyway. So with very low expectations, Milstead — still in his work clothes — put on some rubber boots, grabbed his rifle and walked out to a stand overlooking a food plot and a giant white oak near the back of the property about 1,000 yards away from the shop.

He didn’t get settled in until about 4:30, and predictably, didn’t see a thing.

“We had just come back there with a golden retriever, a screaming baby and my brother screaming about a memory card that wasn’t in the camera all the way,” Milstead said. “So I’m not expecting to see anything.

“I just kind of chilled back in the stand.”

The next thing he did — with only a few minutes of legal shooting time left —violated two of the golden rules of deer hunting: staying quiet with as little movement as possible, and covering up your scent at all costs.

“I couldn’t hold it anymore. I had to take a pee. I was to the point where I couldn’t wait, and hunting was over in my mind, so I wasn’t worried about making noise,” he said with a chuckle. “I stood up and peed straight out the front window of the stand. I wasn’t even worried about it.

“Before I finished peeing, the deer came out the woods.”

Milstead could see it was a buck, but wasn’t sure if it was one they had gotten a few trail cam pics of starting last year. He sat down, grabbed his Ruger M77 7 Mag  and prepared for a shot as the buck crossed a steep ditch and quartered away toward a food plot, its nose on the ground the whole time.

“When I stuck the rifle out the window, it hit the rail of the stand,” he said. “When it hit the rail, he stopped in the brightest spot he could have possibly stopped in relation to the white oak. It was like Jesus was shining a light down there.

“All I could see was horns sticking out the top of the scope.”

Milstead fired, and the buck dropped where it stood. He immediately called his brother — who had heard the shot — to tell him the good news.

“I looked out after I shot and saw his silhouette on the ground. I told him I had just killed a monster with a bucket of horns on his head,” Milstead  said. “I said, ‘Dude, it doesn’t get much better than this. He’s laying right there where I shot.’

“And I looked back out, and it was gone. Gone. I figured he must have played possum on me and then got up and ran.”

Although Shaffer suggested he wait a while, Milstead immediately headed down to the spot with the flashlight on his smart phone and, much to his relief, quickly found good blood.

“Then I saw horns laying in the ditch that he had come out of,” he said. “When he fell, I don’t know if he tried to get up and run, but he just rolled in the ditch because it’s a pretty steep drop.

“When I got down there, it was just excitement. I started yelling, ‘Look at the horns on him.’ They were coming with the golf cart, and said they heard me yelling from the house.”

The 190-pound buck was worthy of all the yelling: A heavy-horned mainframe 9-point with five kickers, it green-scored 161 inches, with a 17 ¼-inch inside spread, 9-inch brow tines and 5-inch bases.

Not too bad for a night where all he was expecting to do was some mechanic work on his truck.

“I was so excited the rest of the week, we didn’t even work on it until Friday evening. We thought it was the brakes, but it ended up being the hub bearings,” he said. “I’m still pumped up talking about it right now. I still can’t believe it.”

Milstead said Shaffer and his father-in-law were both happy for him as well, but that didn’t stop McGraw from some good-natured ribbing after he saw the big buck in person.

“He said, ‘Well Luke, looks like you owe me about $22,000,” Milstead said. “That’s what you’re going to pay to kill that deer anywhere else.”

Don’t forget to enter photos of your bucks in the Nikon Big Buck Photo Contest to be eligible for monthly giveaways and the random drawing for Nikon optics at the end of the contest.

Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.

About Patrick Bonin 1315 Articles
Patrick Bonin is the former editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.