There’s an old saying that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. But for Lloyd Dempster, an amateur bodybuilder from Zachary, La., that saying could not be any further from the truth.
Dempster had the good fortune of taking an impressive 9-pointer with archery gear on Oct. 15 and then scored on a monster 18-point buck only a short distance away from that stand site on Dec. 2.
“I have always loved the Claiborne County area,” Dempster said. “And when the opportunity to join a quality hunting lease up there presented itself, I jumped at the chance.”
The property has been intensely managed for whitetails under the state’s Deer Management Assistance Program. Chris McDonald, MDWFP Wildlife Bureau assistant director, has overseen the deer management program on the property since 2003.
So this tract is a prime example of what can be produced without high fences or supplemental feeding when well-managed.
“This particular club does a great job,” McDonald said. “They are diligent about harvesting adequate numbers of does, depend on natural browse without supplemental feed and only harvest mature bucks.”
The fact that the club does not allow its members to put out corn, rice bran or other attractants made the property even more appealing to Dempster, who prefers setting his stands overlooking natural vegetation such as persimmon and honey locust.
And it was on just this type of setup that Dempster was able to score on both of his trophy whitetails.
“It was a week after I had taken the 134-inch 9-pointer with my bow when I first discovered evidence of the monster 18-pointer,” Dempster said. “I actually thought someone was playing a joke on me when I checked my trail camera that afternoon and saw the images of the monster whitetail. I even turned around to see if someone was watching, and laughing at my reaction to the images. But no one was there and I realized that the big buck was for real.”
Dempster immediately called his wife, Jeanne, who is the news anchor at WVLA in Baton Rouge, and let her know he was going to stay at the camp the entire weekend in hopes of harvesting the big buck.
The monster buck never materialized. In fact, Dempster never captured another image of the brute on his trail camera.
However, he was able to capture images of two very wide, tall-tined bucks in the same area. So Dempster decided to focus his attention on the larger of the two 8-pointers.
After several hunts with no luck, Dempster decided to purchase a Millennium deer stand to place in a second location closer to the buck’s bedding area.
On Nov. 29, with the help of his 9-year-old son “Dax,” Dempster hung the stand in a strategic location alongside an old farm pond in the woods where he had seen an abundance of sign.
After getting the stand in place, Dempster said his son said, “Papa is going to kill that big buck here.”
Three days later, with a cool front moving through on slight northwest winds, Dempster headed back to the camp and hunted the big buck, setting into the stand at 2:25 p.m.
He sat waited for over two hours with his Browning .270 A-Bolt rifle lying across his lap before the deer started to move.
“A pair of does came running through the pines to my right,” Dempster said. “Then I spotted a young 8-point buck to my left standing in a small opening in the trees.
“He was acting nervous and kept looking back over his shoulder like something was coming up behind him.”
The young buck trotted forward, and Dempster caught a glimpse of a large buck moving up the same trail. All he could see through the branches were the white tips of the big buck’s antlers.
Expecting the wide 8-pointer, Dempster was shocked when the giant 18-point stepped into the opening broadside at 80 yards.
“I instinctively put the crosshairs on the big buck’s shoulder, but then moved the scope back up to the antlers to make sure it really was the monster,” Dempster said. “And it was, so I dropped the crosshairs back down on the buck’s shoulder and squeezed the trigger.”
The massive buck turned and ran directly toward Dempster’s stand before veering off to his right and disappearing into the thick timber. Shortly thereafter, the huter heard the giant buck crash.
“I was completely in shock,” said Dempster. “I must have sat in the stand for 10 minutes replaying what had just happened over and over in my mind.
“I was scared to get down. What if I missed?”
But Dempster had not missed.
After climbing down from his stand, he found good blood where the buck ran into the thicket. But rather than take any chances, he backed out and called a friend in St. Francisville, La., to bring his blood-trailing dog to help him find the big buck.
Dempster said it was the longest 2 ½ hours of his entire life.
At first, the dog had problem finding the trail. But a few minutes later, Dempster heard his friend shout, “White belly, white belly!”
“When I finally got to the big buck, I was in awe,” Dempster said. “I instantly knew that he was the buck of a lifetime. The kind of buck I had only dreamed of ever taking.”
The buck sported a massive rack with an 18-inch spread and main beams stretching 27 inches.
The non-typical taped out at 201 4/8 inches, grossing 205 5/8 inches. If that net score holds out, it would be the 30th largest non-typical deer ever killed in the state, according to the Mississippi Magnolia Records.
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Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.