December 10, 2018 at 11:40pm
This had been a trip we have been planning since the month of September where we were informed by email that we won a lottery gun hunt on the Tensas NWR. The week started on Wednesday evening scouting and bow hunting up to the day of the lottery hunt. Taking a boat into the Tensas River was our way to get away from as many people as possible. Finding rubs, scrapes, trails, and feed sign gave me the confidence to hunt the area we scouted. On the morning of the first day of the lottery hunt December 8th we woke up at 3 AM to start getting ready for the hunt, but looking outside of our camper it was a steady cold rainfall and no one in the campground was motivated enough to hunt in that weather not even us. After observing the weather forecast and watching the radae they predicted the rain to taper off by noon and be occasional showers for the remainder of the day. So me and my cousin decided to start heading to the stands around 11 am and hunt the remainder of the day. We gathered our gear and got the boat ready to haul us to the stands, we had a 10 mile boat ride in the drizzling rain up the Tensas River to get to the area we was hunting. I dropped my cousin off approximately a mile from where I was hunting then proceeded to my spot. It was a journey to get to the spot that we scouted out days prior because of all the rising water. I had about an 800 yard walk from where I parked the boat to my spot and with the ground wet and wind blowing in my face I walked real slow and quiet trying to stalk up onto something . I finally reached the spot I wanted to climb about 12:45pm but didn't see anything while walking in. I got the climber set up and was situated in it by 1:00pm. By this time the rain has slacked up some and I was getting comfortable. At 1:25 I watched two deer browsing acorns about 85 yards SE of my stand placement. Putting my scope on the deer to observe what they were I realized it was a couple does and put my gun back down. I had no intentions on shooting a doe that far in the woods and the bucks seemed like they are starting to cruise. The does walked out of my line of site and I resituated myself in my stand, but shortly thereafter at 1:30 I seen a buck following the two does. I put my gun up and found the body of the deer in my scope, I didn't know how big the buck was but did know it was a shooter in my book. I placed the cross hairs on the 5 inch opening I had to shoot and pulled the trigger of my 30-06 and the deer continued to stand there as if nothing happened to him, so I placed the cross hairs back in the opening and pulled the trigger again and the buck continued to stand there still, and finally after the third shot the buck ran off. I studied the area before I climbed down where i saw the buck last so I could go over there and look for blood or evidence of hitting the deer. After climbing down and going to where I saw him the area was covered in about 6 inches of water and blood was impossible to see on top of that it was starting to rain again. I took my compass and pointed it in the direction he ran and was going to make several passes looking for a blood or a dead deer. I walked 200 yards in the direction he went looking in thick palmettos and on the ground just hoping I would stumble on him, but with no success in the first pass I went 60 yards to my right and parrallelled the first pass I made walking back to where I last seen him. I made it about 50 yards back and I heard some rustling in the palmettos, it was him I jumped him. All I could see was horns over the top of all the palmettos at this time I realized how big this buck really was. I went to the exact spot the deer jumped and found blood at the bottom of a huge oak where he laid at. After a little bit of a sigh of relief now knowing I got the deer and he was injured pretty severely. I was still nervous because it's never a good thing to jump a deer and as bad as I wanted to pull out and come look later I just couldn't because it was raining again and I was now finding blood on the Palmetto plants and logs. I was scared if I didn't do something quick I would lose the blood trail so I walked slowly and quietly hoping I could stalk up on the wounded deer and get another shot off. I trailed the deer about 100 more yards and blood was starting to wear thin. Getting nervous think I may not have made as vital as a shot that I thought I leaned against a tree and observed the area for about 10 minutes just hoping I could see him slipping and could make another shot off on him. After seeing nothing I just kinda started looking around the area with no blood to be found and I seen a small 3' tree shaking abruptly and then I seen another shake and then another. I couldn't see the deer but in the pattern the trees were shaking I realized that he was stumbling around about 30 yards from me. I took off toward where the deer was with my gun and when I got there the deer was lying on the ground taking his last breath. I took my belt off and tied the deer to the tree so he couldn't get up and run off. I stayed there with the deer until he died about 2 minutes after I got to him. I went to the boat and grabbed a deer cart and loaded the deer up on the cart which was a chore with the deer weighing in at 240lbs and drug him half way to the boat. At this time it was getting dark and I needed help to finish dragging him the rest of the way so I went and picked up my cousin. We had complications with the deer cart when he got the because the pins holding the wheels on the axle fell out and the tires were falling off. I had to go back to the boat and found a peace of wire to rig the cart back up so we could wheel the deer back to the boat. The deer was a 13 point with an 18 inch inside spread, and I brought it to the local big buck contest and it scored 176' there.
I did hit the deer with two of the shots I made.
I did hit the deer with two of the shots I made.