Ruston hunter arrows big velvet buck in Tensas Parish

‘Gnarls’ weighed in at 240 pounds and green scored almost 148 inches

Ruston’s Lane Cox and his hunting buddy Brandon Hearn attach nicknames to the deer they hunt at Winter Quarters Hunting and Fishing Club in Tensas Parish. 

They call one “Big Nine” for the simple reason he’s big and packs nine points on his rack.

It was while the duo was videoing Big Nine from a ground blind Oct. 6 they noticed other deer in the background. One of those bucks was the one they were after. 

They had named him “Gnarls” because his rack, still covered in velvet, was, well… gnarly.

After switching from holding his bow, running the camera to grabbing his bow again, Cox was finally able to put the pin on the shoulder of 240-pound Gnarls, a buck that green scored 147 7/8. 

“I have had this particular buck on trail cameras for the past four weeks straight and I was getting a good many photos of him in daylight. Brandon and I got to the camp Saturday afternoon, Oct. 5, I went to check the cameras and sure enough, there was his image from that morning. I was excited to see he was still in velvet,” said 19-year-old Cox, a Wildlife Habitat Management student at Louisiana Tech.

The following morning, Cox and Hearn crawled into their ground blind overlooking an acorn flat where the deer had been feeding. Armed with bow and camera, they were ready in the event Gnarls showed up, and the big buck didn’t disappoint.

“Along about 10:15 while I was videoing, Brandon nudged me and said, ‘There he is.’  It was Gnarls standing a long bow shot away, and here I am holding a camera instead of my bow. By the time I handed Brandon the camera and picked up the bow, it was too late for a shot. I was pretty depressed as I watched the buck walk off into a thicket. 

“However, we hadn’t spooked him so I felt he’d eventually come back.”

After sneaking out of the blind and going back to the camp for lunch, the two headed back to the blind for what they hoped would be a successful afternoon encounter with big Gnarls. 

“We got back in the blind around 1:30 and sat until 5:30 without seeing a single deer. Then they just started showing up. I had the camera on Big Nine filming him when Brandon whispered, ‘There’s Gnarls right there.’ I was so busy getting video of the three bucks feeding there at nine yards that I didn’t see the big one until Brandon told me. Gnarls was with two other bucks feeding on acorns 25 yards away and it didn’t take me but a few seconds to lay aside the camera and pick up my bow,” Cox said.

Cox got the pin on the big buck’s shoulder and squeezed off a shot. They watched the buck take off “like a spotted ape,” but Cox felt his aim was true. 

The shot was  indeed good, and the buck only ran about 80 yards before crashing and expiring. The nine-pointer sported a 16 ½-inch inside spread, had bases bumping six-inches each and main beams just more than 20 inches. 

“The thing that excites me the most is this is the first buck I ever saw in velvet,” Cox said. “The fact that I was able to get an arrow in him makes it all the more special.”

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 Monarch binoculars at the end of the contest.

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

Glynn Harris
About Glynn Harris 355 Articles
Glynn Harris is a long-time outdoor writer from Ruston. He writes weekly outdoor columns for several north Louisiana newspapers, has magazine credits in a number of state and national magazines and broadcasts four outdoor radio broadcasts each week. He has won more than 50 writing and broadcasting awards during his 47 year career.