Jan 14, 2018

A Particular Louisiana Buck Hunt


Edited: Jan 14, 2018



So I am looking for a nice buck in the swamp, after taking a doe from a fixed stand early in the season on a food plot in the adjacent high ground. The weather is quite mild in the early season here, with the temperature somewhere between 50 and 80 Fahrenheit. Lots of mosquitoes, the occasional viper, and thick cover with a heavy carpet of dead vegetation to frustrate a hunter.


The previous season I had taken a doe using a compound bow on the first day of bow season at the same food plot, while sitting in a chair, concealed by cover and wearing head to toe camo with mosquito netting over my face . She passed within ten feet, not detecting me because she was upwind.


Hunting the buck is totally different than hunting the doe, and many hunters - even in my club - don't realize this. The very best time to do it is during or just after a long cold spell late December or Early January. This will kick in the rut, when the Buck's brains move between his legs. They are almost totally nocturnal in our area, and you can get pictures of them on the game trails and even to food plots. This at least lets you know what is out there, or you would think so anyway. Later on THAT.


It is best to hunt them in the rut, near but not on top of a food source where the does feed. With this in mind, I started hunting the buck in mid December. My cameras indicate the presence a six point, a four point, a spike and three does in the general area. So I am after the six point since that is actually respectable around here where big boys are exceedingly rare. A typical morning hunt has me on my 4x4 ATV at 05:30, riding the trails for about four miles to within one mile of my stand. The subsequent walk to the stand is on an ATV trail to within 1/4 mile. There is water on this trail in places so water proof knee boots are a must. Mine are also snake proof, a wise precaution. The remaining 1/4 mile is in swamp where the route must circumvent ponds and bogs and cross creeks to reach a relatively high ground ( maybe one foot higher) game trail which runs from a nearby farm, through the DEEP swamp onto higher ground bedding areas. The ground not under water is covered with dead leaves and sticks a foot or more thick. Movement must be slow and careful to at least minimize the noise you are making. Silence is impossible. Reaching the climber finally, it is now close to 7 am. Yes, that is an hour and a half getting there. Starting in the dark, the dawn is nigh.


The climber is there so I can at least have a place to sit. I cannot really climb the tree because there is a ton of low cover all around. You cannot see much from twelve feet up. So I only go up high enough to see over the bush around me and put an adjacent smaller split tree in front that I must shoot around, and which gives me good cover. I can actually reach down and grab the barrel of my rifle leaning against the tree below me. There are creeks all around me, and I can see 100 yards in front and fifty yards to the side in spots and lanes yet there is plenty of cover for a deer to feel "safe".


The first time out, a pair of coyotes cross the trail about fifty yards in front of me, trailing something. Normally I would shoot them, here I do not. Clearing the carcasses from the area would be too difficult and would ruin the pristine sense of the place. Mid December, the weather is still mild - about 45 Fahrenheit.


Next time out, a week later, the weather has turned and it is windy and cold - 35 Fahrenheit. Heavily clothed, walking in makes me sweat. Sitting still in the climber I get very cold in the wind. A large bobcat is seen trailing something on Saturday. I don't shoot him. On Sunday a spiked buck comes to my doe call and presents for a perfect shot, but I don't.


The next week it has snowed and disaster strikes. The large trees and scrub trees are rooted in very soft ground. The weight of the wet snow accumulation brought many down. A significant percentage are brought down across our ATV and game trails. We lose power at the camp site and the deep freeze has set in. It takes us all that weekend to chain saw our way back into our hunting areas. Now the travel has become longer and more hazardous because we must negotiate the barely passable trails.


It is now the last weekend in December and I have four days off. The temperature is in the 20's on Friday and I shiver on my climber all morning after jumping a group of wild hogs going in. I could hear them thundering away, so just kept my rifle on my back. Then a bloody Russian razorback circles back to check me out. He spooks when I swing my rifle off my back and ducks behind a log. No shot as he used the log to cover his escape. The area around the stand has been compromised by a fallen tree, limiting my view directly ahead. Nuts.


It becomes really hard to leave camp the next morning. It's cold and why not just stay in the warm bunk and hunt later after it warms up? Really, why not? Argh. Just can't because, well because. At least it is back to the mid 30's, so I drag my ass out there again, reaching for my VZ 24, 35 Whelen custom rifle from the climber at 6:55 AM.


The wind has let off so it's not so friggin cold at least. At 7:30 I hear something coming from behind me to my left. By now I can tell a deer from everything but a hog. Either way this could be a shooter, so I put my foot up on the cross bar of the stand to give me support across my knee and put my finger on the safety. To the rear and left I finally see a deer. Soon I see antlers and he is moving through the cover to my left. No shot. I get another view and see lots of antlers so it's the six I have been looking for? He is moving toward a shooting lane so I take the safety off and raise the rifle across my knee. When he cross and I can see him plainly about 40 yards off, he is no six. He is larger. He is angling away just a tad and his right leg is forward so I aim just behind the forward shoulder and fire. He jumps three feet into the air and disappears. I hear no crashing through the woods, so am fairly certain he is down on the spot. Waiting 15 minutes is hard, but I do it and the make my way over to him. Oh boy, he is a big 5x4 that was never seen on my cameras. A deep swamp deer with his brains between his legs, reeking of the rut.


Happiness! Determination is to remain upbeat as I drag this buck back to where I can reach him with the ATV. At least it is cold so I don't overheat too much with this effort. Once I retrieve the ATV and negotiate it to the area (not so easy by the way), I use the hoist I carry with me, around a tree limb to lift the buck where I can get the ATV under him. Since I am 66 and rather beat up in a motorcycle accident, I no longer can lift the deer myself. The trip back to camp is dicey through the poorly cut ATV tunnels with the buck in the back, but we get to the camp eventually. He is on ice by 10:30.


There are not many hunters in our club these days because it is such difficult hunting. There are only three of this group willing to go after a buck like this. They get discouraged because the bucks very, very rarely will come out on a food plot in daylight. Even the does have wised up for the most part.

Jan 14, 2018

Here are the photos Michael sent me of the place and the buck. Good and fat that one was!






Jan 14, 2018

He was fat. He had heavy fat all through his system, ready to go after those does non-stop.

Jan 15, 2018

The habitat looks exactly like far northern Mozambique in early fall - only it will never be cold but hot and humid with maybe reason for a light cotton jacket for winter mornings. No tree stands, of course...

Jan 15, 2018

Looks like a heavy body on him. Nice buck. Terrain is similar to where I hunt but we don't have as much swamp thank goodness. I've also had that argument with myself about getting out of a warm sleeping bag to go hunt. Some things just have to be done because they do.

Jan 29

looks like my back yard .. Bama here ...

New Posts
  • erich_33614
    Jan 20, 2018

    Well, Whitetail season in Georgia is over for me. I made my last trip to my lease this weekend. There's still one more week but I won't be able to get out. Work and family keeping me from hunting. This was my first time hunting anything in over 25 years. I didn't get anything but, to be fair, I deliberately passed some good shots on does hoping to get a buck. I got into the season almost as it started, frantically joining a club, doing a one day scout, picking my spot, using a new rifle I'd barely had time to sight in. I consider the season a success for the following reasons. 1) I saw deer. I had some very nice does I could have shot but I wanted to see what else would show up if I left them undisturbed. I know deer are there and I can get to a shooting position on them. 2) I definitely heard a buck grunt just before Christmas. He caught some scent he didn't like but wasn't sure of. He skirted the small clearing I overlooked and grunted but never showed himself. Well played sir. See you next season. 3) I am a much better rifle shot now. Outside of some law enforcement qualifying I'd barely touched a rifle since I got out of the army. LE riflery is much shorter range and very different from hunting riflery. Due to my practice for hunting, I am very confident in my rifles and ability out to about 150 yards (the range I have access to only goes to 100). I'll seek to remedy that during the offseason. 4) I learned alot about tracking. I can identify different tracks and some species of trees now. This is something I can continue to work on. 5) I learned about weather forcasting in the field. Still a work in progress but I'm constantly studying and learning more. 6) I've learned what helps attract deer and what doesn't (mostly by doing the wrong things). I've got some land mangement ideas for the off season that will help. This was a great "first" season. I feel like a young man again with all the new experiences and learning opportunities. It wasn't just about the deer; it was the whole experience. I loved it and can't wait for next season. You'll notice I didn't talk about the friends at deer camp. For some reason, my trips seemed to correspond to when no one else could make it. I was usually alone or maybe with 1 other person. We joked that everyone was avoiding the new guy. Hopefully I'll have some good stories about that next year like the time they hid a dead rattlesnake under the camper of the policeman just before he went under there to work on something and he launched himself out with a pistol in each hand... Next up: Teaching my 7 year old to shoot the .22 that Santa Claus brought him and including him in my trips to the property this offseason. Some feral hog hunting and mastering the flintlock rifle my beautiful wife and bright son gave me for my birthday. Sorry this is so long. I wanted to get it down while it's fresh. I'm curious to read others' comments, reflections, insults or stories.
  • erich_33614
    Dec 30, 2017

    I've recently returned to hunting after a 25 year abscence. I'm currently finishing out my 1st season of whitetail hunting in Georgia. The legality of baiting varies county by county here. It happens to be legal in the counties that the club I joined straddles. I'm not really a fan of baiting. It feels like cutting corners. I'd prefer to spend time studying the topography and terrain then locate my stand accordingly. I didn't get to do any preseason scouting. I got in so late, I just picked up an existing stand left by a former member in a spot he'd prepared. In the offseason, I intend to follow a couple of gametrails I've found and see if I can find a new spot that is still in my assigned area. I'm not criticizing folks who bait. It's a valid tactic. I'll be planting a food plot after the season which, frankly, amounts to baiting. I'm curious to get others' take on baiting, not just on deer but any game. Do you do it? Why or why not? What types of game? How do you feel about the practice? Thanks. Erich
  • Andries
    Dec 30, 2017

    We like to think that this is the real hunting of Africa - what we all grew up with here. The abundance of and variety of non dangerous game is what makes Africa unique.  Some of them do live on the open plains but most are bush dwellers. As much as The Big Five is touted as the epitome of African hunting we believe the sheer variety of our non dangerous Savannah game is what "Hunting Africa" really is about. Look at the list of what South African meat and trophy hunters have available as a matter of course: Red and grey duiker. Springbok.  Blesbok.  Bontebok.  Impala. Bushbuck.  Grey rhebok.  Reedbuck.  Mountain reedbuck (or "Rooi-ribbok", related to the reedbuck). Red hartebeest.  Tsessebe (the fastest ungulate in Africa).  Zebra.  Black wildebeest.  Blue wildebeest.  Nyala.  Kudu.  Gemsbok.  Roan.  Sable.  Waterbuck.  Eland (The heaviest antelope on earth).  Warthog.  Bushpig. Twenty four different species excluding the nine species of small antelope like the duikers and steenbok!  Where else on earth can you hunt that but in Southern Africa?  And be sure - each one of them will present its own unique challenge to your and our skills. The forever-issue that USA hunters debate on forums and around the camp fire is: " Which calibre is best for Africa? " ​And the immediate answer must be: The 30-06. Period. But: do bring that .30 calibre magazine rifle which is not too heavy to carry and which you shoot well - meaning  that one with which you can consistently shoot accurately (4") off-hand up to 100 yards, and from make-shift rests hit a 4" target out to two hundred yards.  Experience has shown that the heavier bullets in the .30 calibres work better in Africa - and not necessarily the speediest.  If you arrive with a  30-06 / .308W and 180 gr bullets, or .280 Rem / 7x57mm Mauser / 7mm-08  with bullets in the 175-160 gr range your outfitter will be impressed and no doubt you'll be able to impress us with the way you shoot them.  You'll have ample time to zero the scopes.  Do you shoot any of the modern .300 "Ultra" Magnums?  Our honest opinion?  Their penetration ability is bad due to bullet failure on big game shoulders at the closer than 200 yard ranges your guide will get you to;  they also seem to be difficult to shoot accurately by many hunters. Even so, if that is your rifle of choice and you can shoot it accurately, be our guest and bring it - but then only with the heaviest premium bullets it can manage and come impress us with accurate heart shots. If you prefer the .300 Winchester Magnum it is still advisable to use the heaviest, best constructed bullets available for the calibre. Rather than high velocity and "flat shooting" think more in terms of the penetrating performance at 100 - 200 yards by a slower, heavy, strong bullet through tough skin and into thick muscle and very strong shoulder bone.  the 200 gr .308" Interbond (or even the Interlock series at  these weights) have all proven themselves. Sight your rifle  2" high at 100 yards with the flat base heavies.  Out to 250 yards there is not .5 MOA trajectory difference between these and the sleek SST or Nosler Accubonds (by the way, please do not bring these two to Africa as they fail on the shoulder of big game). With real good reason we caution against using any " ballistic tip " bullets.  Your guide will get you to closer than 200 yards of your difficult objectives and often as close as 70-100 yards.  Accurate placing of a heavy bullet into the heart is what will get you your game.  As a kind reference:  keep in mind that simply because of their ability to penetrate so well and kill cleanly at all normal hunting distances the 30-06 and .308W (180 gr), and .303 Brit (174 -215 gr), and 7x57, 7x64 (160-175gr) have been in regular use in Africa since their inception - and still are the locally preferred majority one-shot killers every day. Game in South Africa belongs to the land owner on whose property it is at any time. The cost is on the shooter's debit the moment a hit is observed by the PH, guide or tracker.  Every effort will be made to find any wounded game, and no further hunting by that party proceeds until the wounded animal has been found and killed. The PH / guide will also carry a rifle and at his sole discretion he may dispatch a poorly shot, wounded animal should the hunter fail to make a follow up shot when necessary. Please keep in mind that the hunting style here is NOT the Colorado doctrine to ¨ keep on shooting until you can put your foot on the animal's neck ".  A fatally wounded animal often dashes off for 50-60 yards before dying, and a wounded animal will not show any indication of being hit with follow-up shots, unless it is into the brain. After a good shot is called by the hunter we typically call a few minutes break, sit down and relax and then go to the exact position the animal had been standing, and then follow up from there. Should you experience a need for it, locally manufactured ammunition will serve you well; it is plentiful in .375 H&H  / .300 Winchester Mag. / 30-06 Sprg / .308 W / 7x64 Brenneke / 7mm Rem Mag / 7x57 Mauser / .270 W.    The local PMP Group manufactures excellent ammunition with on-target performance right up there with the best in the world and arguably more accurate than most. ​ Dangerous Game Need a Special Mention Cape buffalo, lion and leopard are our speciality in South Africa;  elephant in Zimbabwe.  And -  for that special wild, old Africa hunt we have the best you can ask for:  lion, leopard, Cape buffalo and sable in the far north of Mozambique, bordering Tanzania. Hunt in the true Robert Ruark, Harry Manners, Peter Capstick and Peter Flack style. It will be THE Africa experience you will never forget. Big trophy buffalo bulls (40 inch spread and more) are becoming very scarce. We have concessions to areas where 36-40 inch bulls are available.  Prices differ between these horn sizes. ​ To have a unique experience combine a Cape buffalo with a real trophy sized (meaning VERY BIG), very dark brown bull giraffe. Giraffe is not officially deemed "dangerous game", and indeed they will rather walk away from humans -  but tourists who approached too close by car have paid dearly for such foolishness as a single kick from those powerful hind legs will render a vehicle's cooling system in pieces right there. What calibre for dangerous game? ​ We advise our clients to bring their .375 H&H rifles to Africa  because it has very manageable recoil which allows for sufficient practice to ensure perfect shot placement.  Honestly, with well constructed bullets (S.A. made Peregrines, GS Custom, Rhino - and USA made Barnes, Swift A-Frame of 300 gr. the .375 H&H has the required performance to cleanly kill anything Africa has to offer, and its mild recoil allows the shooter to practice a lot and consistently put the bullet where it is supposed to go. A heavier calibre which causes you to flinch and miss that vital spot is a real liability and not an asset;  a hard kicking .458"+  will NOT do you any good if your shot placement is off the mark.   Locally manufactured ammunition for the .375 H&H is plentiful and efficient.  Also, to make us smile, your big bore will not have a muzzle brake so we shall not look foolish by needing to wear ear protection out in the bush. If you own a .416 Rigby and you can shoot it well you are talking my language! ​ We all are aware of the silliness the liberal media created around lion hunting in Zimbabwe, as well as the airlines' sudden announcements regarding not carrying lion trophies.  The South African Professional Hunters' Association (SAPHA) already is in contact with airlines and we firmly believe there will soon be clarity - and that reality will prevail over emotion. ​ A lot of bad press has gone out regarding so called " canned " hunting of lion in South Africa. While there is no such thing as feed-lot style hunting like in Colorado and Texas, by law any landowner who has dangerous game on his property has to have S.A Bureau of Standards approved fencing around his property for the protection of neighbours' assets and safety. The system regulated itself to the following standards: ​ No lion will be hunted that have to be fed dead carcasses - they must have the ability to roam and hunt their own prey.  By default this implies that the size of the property must be such that it carries sustainable numbers of big game. This leaves me with a proposal of two interesting choices for the lion hunter: We can go lion hunting in the unfenced wilderness of Northern Mozambique or Zimbabwe where we will hunt for tracks of a big male, shoot two or three waterbuck, hartebeest or whatever as bait, leave these in strategic positions and check on them three times a day and go and assassinate our lion as has been done for visiting hunters the past 100 years in Africa. That is not called " canned hunting "  by the way - and neither is assassinating fattened elk from a stand at their feeding troughs in Colorado or rotund deer at their maze and pellet dispensers in Texas, or beeffalo in their hay supplied meadows in Wyoming and Colorado. Or we can go to a 100,000 - 300,000 acre property with 12' high fences, drop trackers at various places, walk ourselves around until we find the fresh tracks of a big male, load our rifles and start following them. Day old tracks would have been into wind but the wind may have swung around during the night. The lion will know that somewhere there is a boundary which blocks their retreat from the following humans. Once we get within 200 yards of them, no matter being down wind they will know they are being pushed and that somewhere they will not be able to retreat any further. The hunter who gets taken to private land WILL shoot his lion head-on.  Face to face, because lion can be pushed for only so long and then then they turn on the pusher.  Your shot will have to be from the one knee kneeling position to have the rifle down at his heart level if he is approaching. He may not charge before the 20 yard mark but he WILL have a keen interest in us. You will not stand for my bull terrier to approach you in this fashion - take it from me. That rifle with which you kill this lion at 20-30 yards you will never sell.

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