Jeff Banderet has no illusions when it comes to deer hunting, and uses the 150-inch 8-point trophy buck he killed Jan. 17 in Claiborne County as a perfect example.
“Stories like this are how you know that deer hunting is all luck,” said Banderet, of Kenner, La., laughing. “This proves that for sure.”
He makes a good point.
Banderet was hunting a piece of land he’d never seen, changed trees three times that morning with his climber and the buck was five feet from safety when it made a fatal turn.
“Seriously, that’s it,” the hunter said. “Our camp lost some land this year and we acquired a new parcel that’s like 30 minutes from our camp house. I’d never been there. My buddy and I were at the stand draw that day and everybody else had drawn and we picked areas Numbers 1 and 2.
“When we reached the fork in the road over there, he went to No. 1 and I went to No. 2. It was the first time I had ever been over there. I didn’t know that much about it, but I found a spot between two cane thickets in a bottom and then looked for the right tree to hang my stand.”
Even though the camp had pictures of the buck from trail cams and a set of sheds, Banderet wasn’t hunting that particular buck, not at all.
“I knew he had been seen over there, and I knew that one of our members had missed him a few weeks earlier at 40 yards with a gun,” he said. “But that’s it. It wasn’t like I went over there with a plan to hunt him.”
Arriving in the area, Banderet said he located a nice looking spot on an old logging road overlooking two cane thickets in nearby bottoms.
“I climbed the first tree, and I didn’t like the feel or the look; it just wasn’t right,” he said, sounding a bit like Goldilocks. “Then I went up a second tree, and I didn’t have a good view of the road. Had I chosen it, I wouldn’t have even seen this buck. It wasn’t right either.
“Then I went up a third tree, and it was just right. It gave me a good view of the thickets and the road.”
He’d been in the stand long enough for the woods to settle and spotted a deer moving in the thickets.
“It was a small 6-point,” Banderet said. “He came out of the cane thicket into the opening and went on through. Then I decided to use a grunt tube and I hit it and I saw another deer.”
This time, the hunter saw the black outline of a bigger-bodied buck through the trees after it emerged from the dense cane. It was moving toward the road.
“I wish I could say that he was coming to the grunt tube, but I can’t,” Banderet said. “He didn’t come out looking around or anything. He wasn’t feeding either. It looked like he was just cruising. I picked up my rifle, looked through the scope and I saw that tall rack and I knew he was a shooter. We have a 20-inch main beam minimum at our camp and it was obvious he would qualify. I had to dial my 3X9 scope down from 9 to 3 and I had time to do that.”
After that, with the buck on cruise control, things happened quickly.
“He came out at 50 yards, hit the road and turned and started walking away from me,” he said. “All I had (for a target) was his rear end and I had to watch him walk down that trail. He only needed about five more feet or steps and he would have disappeared in the brush.
“But, for some reason, he decided to stop and he turned across the road. That put him broadside and I took the shot.”
Because of the hilly and difficult terrain, Banderet opted for a shoulder shot with his Thompson Center 7mm magnum. Not only was he limited to the one shot, but he didn’t want the buck to run.
“I aimed dead center of the shoulder and squeezed the trigger,” he said, kind of laughing. “You don’t want to take any chances down there in those hills and bottoms. You see a big buck, you want him down.”
This buck did exactly that, dropping right where he was standing.
It was then that Banderet finally had time to get nervous.
“It all happened so fast, from when I first saw him to the time I shot, that I didn’t really think about it,” he said. “I took a few minutes to get my stuff together and then I went to him. That’s when I got shook up, standing over him.
“That’s when I realized just how big the antlers were.”
The buck, which was aged at 6.5 years, is a big main-frame 8 point, with three stickers that will hold a ring and perhaps one that could be considered scorable. The camp rough scored it as an 8 and came up with 150 gross and between 144 and 145 net.
“There is absolutely nothing official about that,” Banderet said. “I’m not all that into scoring. I’m just proud to have this one to add to my wall that just has a bunch of regular 8 points. This is the biggest by far.”
The main beams measure 24 and 23 6/8 inches, and the two G2s go 13 4/8 and 12 4/8 inches, all impressive numbers. But the most notable and immediately recognizable feature of the antlers is the mass.
“The bases below the brow tines are 7 inches,” Banderet said, “and it carries good mass all the way out. The brow tines and the bases, all the way to the G2s, are all notchy, you know bumpy. It’s amazing.”
It appears the buck added the mass over the past year.
“We had sheds from him and they were similar in shape but it’s clear he added a lot of mass,” Banderet said. “I’m lucky I got him.”
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