September 22, 2010
Last season, this avid Louisiana hunter decided to do some bowhunting for the first time in more than 30 years, and his second trip to the woods produced the state's largest bow buck in history!
Billy Husted had given up bowhunting years earlier because of the heat and the never-ending mosquitoes, but last year he bought a new bow and headed out to the woods. He came home with this incredible 18-point megabuck, scoring 219 1/8, a new Louisiana state record.
Photo courtesy of Billy Husted.
Some of the South's most impressive whitetails thrive in the Mississippi Delta region of Louisiana. Each year during hunting season, reports trickle in about huge trophy bucks taken in this deer-rich part of the state. Bucks with weights approaching 300 pounds and does in the 200-pound range are not uncommon. Deer in this fertile region attain heavy body weights and grow impressive headgear for one main reason: incredible nutrition.
The weather was warm with temperatures in the 80s on the afternoon of Oct. 2, 2007, when 55-year-old Billy Husted, owner of a sporting goods store in Monroe, Louisiana, decided to go bowhunting. Billy was hunting in Tensas Parish between the towns of Tallulah and Newellton.
"I've hunted deer most of my life with a rifle," Billy said. "I was perfectly content to continue hunting with a rifle until my son-in-law began working on me to give bowhunting another chance. I hadn't bowhunted for more than 30 years, mostly because of the heat and the mosquitoes that drive you absolutely crazy in the early season."
However, Billy finally relented. In August 2007 he purchased a Hoyt bow and began practicing. By the afternoon of Oct. 2, he had only been out in the woods with his bow one time previously. Now, on that warm October afternoon on what would be his second bowhunt of the season and only his second bowhunt in some 30 years, he was about to accomplish a feat that would change whitetail history in Louisiana.
A DAY TO REMEMBER
"I climbed into a lock-on stand that was situated down in a bottom next to a waterhole where the deer frequently drink late in the afternoon," Billy said. "It wasn't long before several deer began to slip into the area for water. I was watching two or three does and a small buck when, all at once, a huge buck suddenly appeared out of nowhere at about 20 yards. His unbelievable rack was still in velvet, and I knew at once that he was a shooter. I already had my bow at full draw and was waiting for a shot when he stopped and looked straight up at me. After a standoff of what seemed like a couple of minutes, I couldn't hold the bow back any longer. As I slowly started to let down, he turned and walked straight away from me.
"At 35 yards, he stopped and turned broadside. I quickly drew back again, got the pin on his shoulder and released the arrow. He was gone in a flash!"
Daylight was quickly fading when Billy climbed down from his stand and checked the area.
"I found no blood, but I found half my arrow where it had broken off, so I knew I had hit him good," Billy said.
Because of the late hour, Billy decided to go back to camp and renew his search early the next morning.
A DAY OF HOPE
"As you might imagine, I had a hard time sleeping that night," Billy said. "The moment I saw that buck, it was like all my breath was sucked out of me. Once I saw that huge rack, I tried to concentrate on the deer and not focus on the mass of antlers. Now I hoped I had made a good shot."
The following morning, Billy and his wife Vicki who is also an avid whitetail hunter, headed back to Billy's stand.
"We had a hard time locating a blood trail, and I decided to call Joe Caskey, a good friend, to come help us out," Billy related. "Amazingly, Joe found a blood trail within a few minutes of the time he arrived. Then, after a short search, we found the buck about 125 yards away. The buck had traveled a total of about 150 yards from where he'd been shot.
"I knew he was big, but it seemed that his rack kept growing the closer I got to it," Billy remembered. "To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement."
A NEW STATE RECORD
The monster buck, weighing 255 pounds, sported 18 points on a massive and beautiful non-typical rack that was still in full velvet. Needless to say, scoring a velvet rack of this magnitude after the 60-day drying period was no easy chore. The rack was scored as a main-frame 4x4 with 10 additional abnormal points that added up to 75 7/8 inches in abnormal growth. Most of the abnormals grew in a large cluster on the left side, two of which were over 17 inches in length and one of which was over 15 inches in length.
Despite heavy side-to-side deductions amounting to 14 4/8 inches, Billy's "Bayou Bruiser" tallied up a gross non-typical score of 233 inches and a net score of 219 1/8. This was good enough to make it a new Louisiana state record by bow! Although no specific records are kept on velvet whitetails taken across North America by bow, Billy's buck also ranks high in that category as well, probably within the top three or four velvet whitetails ever killed.
Amazingly, the taxidermist who mounted Billy's velvet buck discovered a large hollow area at the base of the cluster of non-typical points on the left side of the rack. Had Billy's buck started rubbing his velvet, or had the buck engaged in normal sparring with another buck, he likely would have broken off a larger section of that very weak cluster. Apparently, Billy put an arrow into the record whitetail just in time!
It was no real point of concern to area wildlife biologists that the buck was still in velvet in early October.
"In this part of Louisiana, the rut occurs later than it does in some other parts of the state," said John Leslie, a wildlife biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. John works out of the Ferriday district office, which is located in the region where the buck was killed.
"While most of north Louisiana sees the rut occurring from mid to late November, deer here in the Delta parishes usually reach the peak of the rut in late December," John continued. "Having a late rut means that all deer fawns are born later in the year, and they carry this characteristic of running a few weeks behind on everything throughout their lives."
Billy Husted is still thanking his lucky stars that he was sitting where he was when his chance at such a trophy buck came along.
was just a case of me being in the right place at the right time. I didn't do anything special, and when you consider that this was only my second bowhunt in 30 years, I guess I really was lucky!"