Moments after aiming her .308 rifle at a big buck and pulling the trigger on Jan. 16, Darrion Tregre started having a bad feeling that evoked a flashback to 2014.
“I immediately started second-guessing the shot,” said the 20-year-old coed at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La. “I was so upset. I felt like I had missed him.”
It didn’t help being haunted by the memory of a 160-inch 10-point that she had shot two years earlier. It was at the same Mississippi deer camp in Wilkinson County, near the Adams County line.
She called her father on the cell phone, and admits to standing at the base of her 8-feet high box stand, waiting, and “just sort of staring at the ground.”
“She was really, really down, kicking herself about the shot,” said Thomas Tregre of Laplace, La. “She did not think she’d hit him, and looking at how thick it was where she had shot the buck — you wouldn’t believe it, it was so dense — I understood. I don’t know how she saw him.”
But Dad wasn’t going to let his daughter’s misery continue without a fight. He listened to her story about where and how the big buck appeared and where he was standing when she shot.
“We sent down in that thick stuff and I started searching for blood,” he said. “I looked at everything. I couldn’t find anything.”
“I was just getting sick,” Darrion Tregre said. “I had lost that big buck two years before and now, this.”
Then, after about 30 minutes, came some great news.
“I found a speck of blood, just a speck, no more than the tip of the nail on your pinky finger,” Thomas Tregre said. “Then about 10 feet away, I found another small speck, about the same size of the first. It was not where she said she thought the buck was standing, so I think she was confused. Couldn’t blame her, though, it was really thick.”
With more than just a little excitement building, the Tregre’s trudged on through the briar-like brush. A few steps more and Dad hit the jackpot.
“I went about another 10 feet from the second drop and came up on a spot where it looked like something had exploded in blood,” he said. “I guess he stopped and spit it out. It was everywhere.
“Then I looked up and saw the buck. I turned and said, ‘Baby, there’s your buck right there.’ She went nuts.”
The party started and the two raced over to the buck, which had made it about 50 yards before expiring in a pile.
“I looked over at the antlers and, said, ‘Man, you killed a monster; that’s a really nice buck,’” Thomas Tregre said. “Then I picked up one side of the rack and we both saw the drop tine at the same time. I told her, ‘Baby, you killed the drop-tine buck.’ She was so happy.”
So much so that she admits to breaking down and bawling on the spot.
“I remember saying, ‘oh my gosh, he’s beautiful; oh my gosh, I got him. I got the drop-tine buck,’” she said. “I was crying my eyes out. I was so happy.”
The Tregres had every reason to celebrate. The mainframe 10-point buck carried a narrow, but tall and thick set of antlers. The distinguishing drop tine was about 5 inches in length, and oddly wide, on the right main beam.
“This was a buck we’d been getting on camera in September through October, and then he just disappeared,” Darrion Tregre said. “I had been in the stand just a little while when I heard a twig crack. This was a buck I found by hearing, not by seeing. I had to look long and hard to spot him in the brush. All I could see was that he had big antlers and a lot of them. I couldn’t see the drop tine. It was about a 50-yard shot.”
It was a perfect shot, too, striking the buck right behind the shoulder and exiting through the front of the rib cage on the opposite side.
“She wore him out,” said Dad. “It couldn’t have been any more perfect. It took out the top of the heart and the bottom of each lung. She hammered him. That was with the .308 I got her this year. This is her first year with that gun.”
Darrion had already taken a cull buck in the same stand with the rifle.
Dad explained that she needed the upgrade in power from the .243 she’d previously used, the one that she hit the 10-point with two years ago.
“She hit it good, but the smaller bullet just ricocheted around and didn’t do much damage,” he said. “We trailed that buck a long way and never found it. Two weeks later, one of the neighbors killed a big 10 and I tracked him down. I saw the picture and knew it was the same buck. He said it had been wounded and even had her bullet. It had lodged in the skin at the shoulder. He was able to give it back to Darrion.”
Oddly enough, neither Tregre expected the big buck to be there. It had not factored in at all in the stand selection.
“It was a Saturday afternoon, and on Friday I had not been feeling well and I called her at college and told her I didn’t think we’d be hunting,” Thomas Tregre said. “You need to know this girl and how she loves to hunt. I knew she was disappointed so when I woke up Saturday feeling a little better, I called her and said ‘let’s go.’”
They arrived late, him from Laplace and she from Natchitoches.
“I don’t hunt anymore; she’s the big hunter now, and nobody hunts them harder that she does,” Thomas Tregre said. “She’d hunt all day every day if she could. We were late going there and I asked her where she wanted to go.
“She said she’d just go to Mr. Leo’s box stand and just shoot a doe and get back to the camp to be with everyone. She went to get a doe and got the drop-tine buck instead. Crazy, isn’t it.
“But, nobody deserves it more than she does. She’s a good girl, a good student and a good hunter.”
Click here to read about other big bucks killed this season.