August 14, 2023
Winter rain and a Jeep that won’t run are a bad combination when you want to go deer hunting, especially when the stand you plan to hunt is way out in the middle of nowhere! Mid-December is close to prime deer hunting time in Central Louisiana. Bucks are showing interest in does, but good days can be hard to come by once the rainy season sets in. When conditions are right, you need to be hunting. Chris Temple knew what it was going to take to get to his spot, but the thought of a really muddy four-wheeler ride was not very appealing.
MONSTER IN THE MUD
Chris farms a large tract of land in Catahoula parish. If you want to be around a bunch of deer, that job is hard to beat. He and his son have worked and hunted together since Christopher Jr. was old enough to tag along, sharing lots of good times out in the fields. They are always watching for big bucks, and occasionally this puts them after the same one. They share information and often hunt close to each other. But on Dec. 7, 2021, they were headed in different directions, and Christopher would not be there to give his dad a lift when his main ride broke down. So, Chris would need to borrow a four-wheeler to make the half-mile trip in the gumbo for his afternoon hunt.
If you are thinking food, think again. Gumbo mud is the kind that clings to everything. It can make a pair of boots weigh 20 pounds in a hurry, and Louisiana is full of it. Simply washing it off doesn’t work. You must scrape every little bit and rinse at the same time. It is not pretty. Someone should figure out how to sell it as an adhesive, because it is really that bad! So, Chris’ reluctance to go is understandable. He also hated doing that to someone else’s four-wheeler, but he knew you don’t kill big bucks sitting at the camp. So, after a lot of back and forth, he decided to go for it and deal with the mess later. That decision turned out to be the best thing that ever happened for him in the Louisiana woods.
Chris and his buddies have an 8-point or better rule at their club. He has killed some very nice bucks over the years, and generally holds off until he sees a good one. He has also missed a few, due to making sure they were big enough to satisfy that requirement. A deer crossing a shooting lane doesn’t linger long. You must judge and decide whether the deer is a shooter or not really fast. Add in some yardage, and it gets even tougher. Hunting a food plot makes things a little easier. Chris had that in mind, so he gritted his teeth and cranked the four-wheeler.
The ride in was every bit as bad as he expected. And halfway down the lane he was already aggravated and covered head to toe in sticky mud, which is not the best way to start a hunt. But once he was settled in a few deer began to filter into the planted wheat field, and his mood got right again. All is good. Now, bring on a slammer buck!
Some young bucks showed up to join the does. None of those were shooters, so Chris sat quietly watching them running around and grunting while making the girls nervous. All the pre-rut action made the time pass quickly. As the sun dropped lower on the horizon, he glanced at his watch and noted that shooting hours would be over soon. His .270 Win. remained propped in the corner of the shooting house. Suddenly, every deer turned and looked in the same direction. Then they scattered, completely clearing the field. Chris was surprised, but he thought there may be hogs coming out. They had been becoming a real problem, and he had seen deer move away from them before. Only this was not a pig. A monster buck, bigger than anything he had ever seen, entered the plot with its nose down.
As Chris picked up his rifle, the giant buck started moving down the edge of the field away from him. He got the deer in the scope but was shaking so bad he couldn’t pull the trigger. The deer was already at 170 yards and moving away. He kept telling himself to calm down, but thoughts of previous misses were eating him up. The giant deer was moving at a steady pace, adding pressure with every step. Chris knew he had to shoot soon. After taking a couple deep breathes, still trying to calm down, he lined up the crosshairs and pulled the trigger. The bucking rifle came off the target, and when he looked down the field again the buck was gone! But a second glance through the scope revealed that the giant had dropped in its tracks.
Chris called his son and told him he had killed the biggest buck in the woods!
Chris walked down the field to where the big deer was, and then it hit him how big this one really is. The buck weighed nearly 300 pounds and sports four tines over 11 inches, all on very long beams. Chris was going to need a lot of help to get it loaded. So, he headed back to the camp to wait on his son and some friends. The ride back was just as nasty as before, but it made no difference this time.
SURPRISING THE CREW
When his son showed up with the truck, Chris tried to tell everyone the deer was a giant; but they wouldn’t believe him. He had fooled them before, and they thought he was just up to one of his old tricks. The more he insisted, the more they said, “Sure you did.” But that all changed when their flashlight beams shined on the rack, revealing a 20-plus-inch inside spread. Everyone was stunned at the overall size of the deer. Then they realized it had been on the property three years before. There were some trail camera photos from that period, which confirmed it was the same buck. And a few of the neighbors had more recent ones. The buck had lived on heavily hunted land and managed to survive, because it was mostly nocturnal. This time, however, the rut did him in!
Preliminary measurements had the rack at over 190 inches, and for a while it was thought it might break the state record. Unfortunately, deductions and the drying period took that off the table. Chris hunted a few more times after that, but he told Christopher he probably wouldn’t shoot another buck right away. He knows this southern giant will be a hard one to top!