From the sound of it, Monica Gisclair of Cut Off, La., was in the honey hole of all honey holes last weekend at the Louisiana family’s deer camp in Mississippi’s Claiborne County.
First, she missed a buck on Saturday.
“He was a good one,” Gisclair said, “but I just clean didn’t hit him.”
Second, on Sunday afternoon, another shooter buck approached to within 17 yards of her ground blind.
“He was so close, I didn’t want to move; I couldn’t move,” she said. “He was looking at me, right in the eyes. I didn’t blink. I couldn’t move an eyelash, much less my crossbow. So I just let him walk away without risking spooking him off.”
Third, her decision to let the buck walk away worked perfectly.
“He came back a few minutes later, this time with a doe,” Gisclair said. “At 22 yards, I decided to take a shot, but, when I took my crossbow off safety, it spooked him and he ran away.”
Afraid she had let the opportunity slip away on getting her first buck with a crossbow, Gisclair was a bit downtrodden. Yet, there would be a fourth opportunity when a deer that nobody ever knew existed showed up.
She remained in her blind, which was positioned near an old logging road that deer were using to access a nice food plot not far from her location. Signs showed it to be a popular deer route, and there was another traveler headed down the trail Sunday afternoon.
“I guess it was about an hour later, he came out,” Gisclair said. “He was a total surprise. We have a few cameras out and have never gotten an image of him. We had no idea.”
No hunter would forget seeing this buck. It was a big 13-point, weighing 230 pounds with a 21-inch inside spread, with 10-inch G 2s, 25-inch main beams and bases that would measure 5½ and 6 inches. It grossed 167 inches.
It was suddenly standing broadside, 32 yards in front of Gisclair’s blind, with its eyes glued on her position.
“He saw me; I know he did,” she said. “He just kept looking at me, just like the other deer had. I used 33-Point Buck cover scent on me back at the camp and then I doused with it again in the blind and sprayed a little more on the blind twice.
“We had the ground blind — it’s one of those pop-up tent-like stands — well brushed and it had been there five or six weeks. I think the other deer were used to it, but since he hadn’t been around it before, judging by the lack of photos of him by the trail cams, it probably made him nervous. But I think it’s obvious that the 33-Point Buck spray calmed him down. All those deer came in from the same direction on the same trail I did, yet when they’d put their nose down to sniff the trail, they could tell something was there but it was not unsettling to them.”
The sight of such a big brute of a buck was certainly making Gisclair nervous.
“Heck yeah I was nervous; my heart was pounding, and the blood was rushing through my body,” she said. “I tried to settle down and I finally told myself, ‘I’ll just try and shoot.’
“I hit the trigger and I heard the ‘thump’ when I hit him. Hearing the thump made me feel so much better.”
Meanwhile, several hundred yards away in another stand, husband Taegar Gisclair wondered what was happening. His wife had broken communication for about an hour.
“I had started receiving text messages from her at 4:30,” he said. “The first was that she let a doe and a set of spotted twins pass at 25 yards. The second was that she had seen a doe and a nice buck in the woods.
“Then a few minutes later came a frantic text that she spooked that same buck when she took her crossbow off of safety. Fifteen minutes later at 5:15, I got a text that said ‘nice buck in the distance.’ Then the phone went silent. I texted her with no response. After a half hour of silence I started to wonder what was going on.”
Then came the phone call and the words the husband was hoping for from his wife: “Babe, I just shot. … I heard a thump.”
That she heard her bolt hit the buck, Taeger Gisclair knew the best option was to not hurry. He told her to sit still, let the rest of the hunters stay until dark and they’d all come help.
Two hours after the shot, the Gisclairs were together and began the search.
“We found my arrow and the green and white fletching was covered in deep red blood,” Monica Gisclair said. “That had me feeling pretty good, but then we couldn’t find any blood. We found a little speck here and another there. Then I got nervous again.”
Taegar Gisclair was confident.
“That blood on the arrow was deep red and from that I knew it had been a good hit, but a bit back, probably around the liver so I knew we needed to let him lay and not push him,” he said. “I also decided that due to the lack of much blood, we needed to put a dog on that trail.”
The Gisclairs called a friend with a great tracking dog, only to find he was already helping a friend retrieve a deer up at Tara Wildlife, Inc., north of Vicksburg.
“But he gave us the number of a friend, that had a friend that had a friend with another good dog,” Monica Gisclair said. “We hooked up.”
Turns out it was John Ainsworth of Southern Track’n, a Copiah County-based group of three men and their dogs who have taken the recovery of deer to another level.
Ainsworth and his dog Cash made quick work of what turned out to be an easy retrieve. The buck had traveled only 70 yards before it bedded down and bled out.
“Within 10 minutes Cash's bell stopped clattering, John looked down at his handheld and said, ‘he found it,’” Taegar Gisclair said. “Sure enough, we walked up on the deer. John arrived first with the rest of us 30 yards behind. He yelled, ‘Holy Cow!’ so I knew it was a big one.
“The celebration began. Our son Noah called Monica, who had remained at the camp and said, 'Mom you killed a 13-point. It’s huge.’”
Back at the camp, Monica Gisclair was in shock: “You sure it’s my deer?”
Click here to read other big-buck stories from the 2016-17 season.
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