Hunt of a lifetime ends with 130-inch buck on the ground.
Doug Atkins will remember Nov. 5 for more than the big LSU-Alabama football showdown. In fact, his celebration began an hour before that game even kicked off when he arrowed the biggest 8-point of his life.
“I’m that guy who’s hunted for 23 years and never pulled the trigger on a deer like that,” Atkins said.
The Claiborne County hunt was really an afterthought.
“I was cooking gumbo, and my buddy put my wife (Janna) on a stand, and came back and said, ‘Come on. I’ll put you on a stand right by me,’” the Brandon hunter said.
His buddy told Atkins some nice bucks had been seen off the stand he’d be sitting – but told him there were a couple he couldn’t shoot.
Atkins, who owns a plantation near Natchez, was fine with that. He had never, to that point, killed a buck off of anyone else’s property because he hasn’t wanted to mess with his buddies’ management.
But within an hour, he was salivating while overlooking a field that was full of deer.
“I had 25 deer in the field, and 10 were bucks,” Atkins said. “It’s one of the best hunts I’ve ever had.”
Five of the bucks were in the 125-inch-or-better class. Both of the deer Mosely had warned Atkins about were part of the parade.
The hyped-up hunter was perched in a ladder stand positioned in an oak tree right on the edge of the field, half of which was planted with rye and wheat while the other half was just grown-up CRP property.
Deer were everywhere, mostly lining the field munching on acorns under the oak trees lining the opening.
When the tall-racked 8-point walked across the field, it was out of bow range. But the other bucks were following it, almost as if animal was the cock of the walk.
The bucks took up positions under oak trees, meandering around sucking up protein-rich nuts. But they were moving toward Atkins’ position.
A 125-inch 9-point was the first to make it to Atkins’ tree, and the deer munched contentedly. The other four deer were heading his way.
“When I had all five coming to me, I’m like, ‘What do I do?’” Atkins chuckled.
The 9-point finally spooked as the big 8-point headed for the tree.
“I don’t know what happened to that deer,” Atkins said.
But he wasn’t too worried about it; his attention was fixed on the 8-point.
“I was a nervous wreck,” Atkins admitted.
The buck was quickly within range, but Atkins didn’t rush the shot.
“I probably watched him for five to 10 minutes,” he said.
Finally, at about 6 p.m. the buck was quartering to the concealed hunter at only 23 yards. An arrow was loosed and hit true.
When Atkins reached the downed buck, he was ecstatic. Antlers sprouted from 5-inch bases, forming main beams stretching around 17 inches of air.
But the G2s were even more impressive, measuring 11 and 10 ½ inches.
Atkins green scored the deer at 130 5/8 inches Pope & Young.
See other bucks killed this season – and post photos of your own – in the Nikon Big Buck Photo Contest.
Not a member of the Sportsman team? Just fill out the short registration form to get started today!