Bewildered On The Bayou: The Sammy Walker Buck

Bewildered On The Bayou: The Sammy Walker Buck
The massive rack of "Peanut" Walker's Louisiana non-typical would be a state record . . . but for one problem. Photo by Tom Evans

When "Peanut" Walker saw this amazing buck come out of a Louisiana swamp on the dead run, the hunter wasn't sure just what he was looking at. Seconds later, he found out.

Sammy H. Walker - "Peanut" to his friends - stared in amazement at the creature before him. He thought it was a deer, but he really wasn't sure!

The dogs were close, and this "thing" was running flat out as it crossed the narrow logging road. Its body looked like that of a deer, but on the head was a pile of something that caused the animal to appear more like an apparition than a whitetail buck. Besides the apparent mass of antlers, which jutted in every direction, broken branches also adorned the head. To top it off, the entire mess was laced with vines, which draped in long streams alongside the body. But whatever it was, Peanut decided to shoot it!

Louisiana is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, in the form of streams, rivers, bays, swamps, extensive forestlands and a vast array of wildlife species, so it's only natural that this enchanting land has evolved a culture around the sporting life. Alligator hunting at night, trotlining for catfish, fishing for huge alligator gars, crabbing, frog gigging, shrimping and running bayou bucks with hounds are but a few of the dozens of outdoor rituals performed in this state each season. As the license plates state, Louisiana is truly a "Sportsman's Paradise."


Like his father before him, Peanut grew up in the outdoors. Besides all of the usual sporting activities most "swamp rats" engaged in, Peanut was a hound man and deer hunter . . . in that order.


For those who haven't tasted the rich and ancient ritual of hunting deer with hounds, criticism of the sport should be tempered with understanding. For one thing, deer hunting with dogs primarily evolved in the South and Southeast, where the habitat isn't conducive to more conventional tactics. Vast stretches of swampland with heavy timber and underbrush that remains green all year constitute a substantial portion of the deer habitat, making it difficult even to walk through some areas, much less hunt them. For decades, the use of hounds to move deer has been the accepted way of hunting these areas.


Without a doubt, traditions, cultures, tactics, hunting knowledge and habitats themselves are changing, and not in favor of dog-hunting for deer. The biggest problem lies in the fact that dogs don't read "Posted" signs well; they would just as soon run a buck through a subdivision or golf course as across a vast swamp. They actually prefer to chase deer through outdoor church services on Sunday mornings (popular in the South) and are especially fond of baying across posted land and private hunting clubs.

All of this, of course, makes the deer hound an unpopular fellow today. In 1958, however, deer hunting with hounds was the thing to do in Louisiana, and Peanut liked nothing better. After work every Friday during deer season, he'd gather his sons and his hounds and go to the woods.


Peanut's two redbones and two Walker hounds were good and fast, which is important when running deer. The dogs must keep a buck "lined out," so that he doesn't run tight circles to confuse them. Also, it helps if the dogs don't give the buck much time to think, so he can't get in with other deer and thus throw the dogs off his track.

For much of his life, Peanut had hunted the bayous and swamps in the parish of Grosse Tete, and he knew many of its backwater areas well. One of his favorites for bucks was Bayou Blue, which most local folks just called "Bay Blue" for short. On Jan. 2, 1958, Peanut repeated a ritual he'd acted out many times before. Long before daylight he gathered his dogs, sons and friends, then headed toward Bay Blue.

For more than one reason, this was not a usual day. The South was under the grip of a bitter cold spell, as the temperature had dropped to 20 degrees. (Trust me when I say that 20 degrees in Louisiana's humidity is "bitter.") To make conditions even worse, an ice storm had hit the area the previous day, coating the brush with a heavy glaze. This was real winter in the Deep South!


Sammy knew where the deer fed, and he was well aware of all of their crossings once they were pressured by the hounds. Escape routes are of vital importance in dog-hunting, because quite often bucks (more than does) will be so far ahead of the dogs that they'll cross roads or other potential ambush sites long before the dogs are even within hearing distance. Therefore, it's very important to know the favorite crossings in advance. This is where Peanut had the advantage, because he'd hunted Bay Blue many times before.

On that fateful morning, Peanut drove his pickup down a rough back road to a spot where he knew deer had been feeding on new winter wheat. This was a tactic that had worked before, as deer which had fed during the night left fresh tracks in the black "gumbo" mud.

Just after daybreak, Peanut found a big track and dropped the tailgate for the four dogs to begin to do their thing. The cold-trailing continued for several minutes, with the howls coming sporadically in long, drawn-out notes. All at once the pace picked up, and excited, choppy tones blended into one high-pitched chorus. The buck had been jumped, and the race was on.

As the dogs went in one direction, Peanut had his clan head in the other. He quickly dropped off standers at favorite crossings and eventually posted on the last crossing himself. In the distance, he could hear the chorus making its way through the swamp.

Excitement was heavy in the air as the frozen limbs cracked from the slightest winds. The dogs seemed to turn Peanut's way, and he peered hard in their direction.

A quick flash to his right caused him to jerk his attention in that direction, but it turned out to be only a pair of wrens chasing each other through the limbs of a small cypress. Peanut's wait for the deer continued.

Soon the dogs were close, and the hunter knew the deer couldn't be far away. Except for the dogs, there was silence all around. Then, as if traveling alone, a mass of antlers bounced over the tops of the frozen brush.

Without thinking, Peanut slipped off the safety of his Stevens 12-gauge pump shotgun and fired one shot as the buck crossed the right of way. The deer was broadside, and the buckshot found its mark, causing the animal to drop instantly.

As Peanut began his walk to the buck, he wasn't sure what he'd shot. The sticks, branches and long, trailing vines entangled in the deer's rack indeed made for a sight few hunters ever have witnessed. After careful examination, he found he'd actually killed a buck with a wild set of antlers!

For quite a while Peanut was the talk of Bay Blue, as nobody ever had seen anything like this deer. The buck also was exceptionally large-bodied.

When the buck was killed, his rack was mostly covered in velvet, meaning he was almost certainly a stag (a buck without functioning testes). Although some hunters advocate that such bucks have lost their "privates" jumping fences or going through thick brush, most are born without them. These bucks do not breed or go into the rut, and are basically social outcasts. Their antlers never shed their velvet, and the antlers themselves never are shed.

Characteristically, antlers on stag bucks have an overabundance of points and almost always lack a well-defined typical frame. But while I've seen many such racks, I've yet to see another with these drooping main beams, or one with so much mass and bone, as the Walker buck. Overall, this is one of the most unusual whitetails I've ever seen.

The rack has 22 points on its right side, 26 on its left. The greatest spread is 28 inches, and the right and left sides feature greatest circumferences of 10 and 13 inches, respectively. Not counting any main beams, spread or circumference measurements, the rack has 190 3/8 inches of antler, and it weighs more than 10 pounds!

The buck has been scored by veteran Boone and Crockett measurer Dave Boland at 291 3/8 non-typical points. But Dave cautions that the buck could be rejected by B&C as a "freak." It probably would require the judgment of a panel of scorers to make the final call, and no such determination ever has been made.

Without a doubt, this buck is a scorer's nightmare in every way. It's difficult to determine which portion (if any) constitutes the main beams and which points (if any) are typical in nature. Even measuring the length of the most likely main beams is difficult, because so many points come off the back of the rack. Determining the origin of many points is also tricky, as the majority of them sprout off the two masses of antler just above the bases. Actually, there's nothing simple about scoring this buck!

It would be easy to make the argument that this Louisiana whitetail is a "freak" and therefore non-scorable. But is the Missouri world-record non-typical (333 7/8 points) not also a "freak"? Are some wild-looking non-typicals more "freakish" than others? How can several of the top bucks in the record book be accepted for entry and the Walker buck not be? In time, some standardization must occur if the record book is to provide an accurate record of the biggest deer racks in history.

Regardless, there's no doubt that this immense deer makes Peanut Walker's "book." It's the highlight of his many years of whitetail hunting and perhaps always will be known as the biggest buck to come from Bay Blue.

Recommended for You

In blackpowder hunting, details always matter. Don't learn the hard way. Guns

Choose the Right Load for Your Muzzleloader

Gordon Whittington - March 05, 2019

In blackpowder hunting, details always matter. Don't learn the hard way.

Many people have the mistaken notion that mature bucks have one area where they spend their days; Scouting

Scouting Deer Bedding Areas: Locating, Creating and Observing

Bernie Barringer

Many people have the mistaken notion that mature bucks have one area where they spend their...

Good location is just part of the equation. Scouting

The Best Summer Trail Camera Strategy

Tony J. Peterson

Good location is just part of the equation.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

North American Whitetail - South of the Border

North American Whitetail - South of the Border

Dr. James Kroll and Pat Hogan head south of the border in pursuit of whitetails in old Mexico.

Wyoming Whitetail Crossbow Hunt

Wyoming Whitetail Crossbow Hunt

Imported video NAW14-WyomingWhitDr. James Kroll and Gordon Whittington are in Eastern Wyoming hunting whitetails with their crossbows.etailCrossbowHunt.mp4

On Target: Tips for Handgun Hunting Accuracy

On Target: Tips for Handgun Hunting Accuracy

Dr. James Kroll provides tips for hunting whitetails with a handgun.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

To hear many serious trophy bowhunters tell it, Kentucky must be a figment of someone's fertile United States

Best Spots for Bowhunting Kentucky Trophy Bucks

Gordon Whittington - July 21, 2016

To hear many serious trophy bowhunters tell it, Kentucky must be a figment of someone's...

Understanding what deer eat and how they adjust their diets to meet changing nutritional requirements will not only increase your chances of harvesting a good buck, but also your enjoyment of whitetail hunting. Land Management

What Do Deer Eat?

Dr. James C. Kroll

Understanding what deer eat and how they adjust their diets to meet changing nutritional...

In terms of coloration, which whitetails are the rarest of all? Most hunters would claim that Deer Behavior & Facts

Rarest Whitetails Of All?

Gordon Whittington - September 22, 2010

In terms of coloration, which whitetails are the rarest of all? Most hunters would claim that

See More Stories

More Trophy Bucks

Part three: The journey toward Luke Brewster's fateful arrow release continues. Trophy Bucks

Brewster Buck Revisit: A Bowhunt for the Ages

Lynn Burkhead

Part three: The journey toward Luke Brewster's fateful arrow release continues.

In this final installment, Luke Brewster talks about the aftermath from his new-world record whitetail. Trophy Bucks

Brewster Buck Revisit: The Aftermath of a New World Record

Lynn Burkhead

In this final installment, Luke Brewster talks about the aftermath from his new-world record...

Brian Butcher's 321 3/8-inch net non-typical Kansas whitetail steals the attention of the 2020 ATA Trade Show. Trophy Bucks

Brian Butcher Downs Stunning 321-Inch Kansas Buck

Lynn Burkhead

Brian Butcher's 321 3/8-inch net non-typical Kansas whitetail steals the attention of the 2020...

See More Trophy Bucks

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.