When Brady Chauvin walked up on 159-inch buck he’d just shot at his hunting camp in Franklin County, he got weak in the knees and almost went to the ground next to the big deer.
“It was him; it was The Godfather,” said Chauvin, of Houma, La. “I was shocked, and I almost passed out.”
The legendary buck’s life and Chauvin’s three-year pursuit of it came to an end on Dec. 5, when the hunter put a 7mm bullet through its chest. It was one of the rare times this old, thickheaded buck had been seen.
“That’s how he got the name — ‘The Godfather’ — because he never showed up,” he said. “It’s like he was a ghost.”
The history of the buck does lend credence to the tale.
“I first saw him three seasons ago and he was a big 9-point then,” Chauvin said. “I had one brief video of him on cam that season. Then in 2013, I had one picture of him crossing a food plot. That was it, just that one photo. He was still a 9-point but had added a sticker to a G2.
“This year, we didn’t have anything of him, and I got 11 trail cams down there on that 500-acre lease where I killed him and on the 1,500-acres I got leased that adjoins it.”
The Godfather had disappeared, and Chauvin thinks he knows why.
“We got some neighboring hunters who like to run dogs, and sometimes they get on us,” he said. “Last year (2013-14 season), they told us they had shot a big buck and had found blood. They never found it.
“I think that explains why we never saw The Godfather again. They had shot him in the right hind quarter but hit it low and didn’t hit any major arteries or blood vessels. When I was cleaning the buck I found the scar tissue from the shot. It was healed over without a lot of damage.”
Chauvin said The Godfather chose a peculiar day to make his final appearance.
“It was almost the full moon, and it was hot, like 70 degrees, with a strong southeast wind,” he said. “I saw a buck walk into the food plot, but I didn’t recognize him. I picked up my gun, found him in the scope and when he picked up his head to sniff the wind, I realized immediately that he was a shooter. I took the shot at 175 yards, and he ran into a thin strip of tall grass and never came out.
“I watched the grass until dark, unsure if the shot was good or if I had just missed. I walked down there and was unable to find blood, hair or any tracks where the deer had been standing and where he had run into the grass.”
Chauvin got a sick feeling.
“I looked everywhere for him and for blood, but nothing,” he said. “I knew that the deer would not be good left overnight, it was so warm. I started to walk in and out of that tall strip of grass looking for him and I walked up on him, dead, about 15 yards into the grass.
“I was shocked. I knew immediately then it was The Godfather. This old buck was very smart at avoiding any cameras and humans until that day.”
The buck, aged at 6½ years, was massive, weighing in at 275 pounds.
The antlers were impressive, measuring out at over 159 inches gross despite lacking any great length its main beams (19 5/8) and tines (longest was a G2 (7 5/8).
“He had great mass, with bases just over 5 inches and it carried that all the way out both main beams, with just an eighth-inch variance,” Chauvin said. “I grossed him at 159 6/8 inches.
“This is a true trophy in my eyes. The old buck was very smart at avoiding any cameras and humans.”