You might not find David Laster’s name on the speakers’ list at any deer hunting seminars, but don’t be surprised if you see the 28-pointer he shot last year hanging shoulder to shoulder with Mississippi’s finest whitetails.
The buck didn’t make a big splash outside of the 57-year-old’s hometown of Columbus, Miss., where it was featured in the local newspaper. And because the rack is covered in velvet, it’s doubtful the deer will ever be included on lists of the state’s “Booners.”
But while B&C might not accept velvet antlers, the Lowndes County specimen is a new state record in Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records’ velvet category, which tickles David to no end.
Because he was raised about 60 miles south of Stuttgart, Ark., you’d think David would be more into ducks than bucks. But the “mostly retired” real estate broker rarely misses an opportunity to sit in his comfortable shooting house when the season’s open.
His way of deer hunting is a whole lot easier than going out in the cold to shoot a couple of ducks a day.
“I’m not one of those Daniel Boone types,” he admits. “I didn’t sleep out in the woods for three days or hunt naked. I’m not an expert or a deer psychologist or anything. I just went out and happened to shoot this thing.
“I like my insulated, prefab shooting house just fine. It’s 6x6, warm, fully stocked with snacks and drinks, and it has nine windows. I do more sitting than shooting.”
On Sunday, Dec. 20, he did more than sit.
David says he normally doesn’t hunt on Sundays. But after visiting with in-laws for a few hours after church, he wanted some alone time. Actually, he wanted more to read than to hunt, and his shooting house was the perfect getaway.
He grabbed a paperback – James Lee Burke’s “White Doves at Morning” – and his rifle and left home around 2:30. Less than an hour later, he was sitting in a swiveling desk-type chair inside his man cave.
The blind overlooks a 50-acre tract of CRP, the only idle portion of a 400-acre farm. The rest is pasture and cropland, where both corn and soybeans are grown.
While glancing out the window between 4:15 and 4:30, David noticed a small buck enter the CRP to his right.
“I was tracking that little buck when my eyes passed over what I first thought was a clump of some kind of weeds. The second time I looked, those plants had turned 90 degrees. And the next, they were back in the original position,” he said.
“Turns out, it was a buck lying down, facing away from me.
“I watched that bedded buck for an hour, waiting for it to stand or move so I could get a shot. I finally just went ahead and shot it in the ear. It was 204 steps,” he said.
David drove right up to his deer. His first thought upon seeing it up close was, “Man, what an ugly rack.” But then he thought better of it and took the buck to a taxidermist.
“I didn’t know anything about scoring, so I had no idea how the antlers would fare. I kinda researched it on the computer, read up on Buckmasters’ system, and I chose them because they’re in the South. We’re practically neighbors.”
Another reason he beat it to the taxidermist is because the still-soft antlers were limber.
“I figured they needed to go in a freezer,” he said.
A blurb and a photo ran in the local newspaper, but that’s about it. Even so, it gained him an unexpected notoriety. He recalls hearing people talk about the strange deer, some even claiming to know him – though they obviously didn’t, since he was standing there.
“I’ve never had so many best friends in my life,” he laughs.
David and his wife own a real estate brokerage, and he’s mostly retired, spending as much time as possible in gyms and in his shooting house.
“When deer season opens up, you can just about write me off,” he says. “I’m going hunting, and I’ll keep mine and my neighbor’s freezer stocked with venison.
“Me and this deer just happened to be in range of each other,” he said. “Well, its luck wasn’t going real good … him being a stag and all. His testicles hadn’t dropped, and they were only the size of grapes.”
The buck weighed in at 208, and some believe it was only 2 1/2 years old.
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View Official BTR SCORESHEET for David Laster.
Taken By: David Laster
BTR Official Score: 196 1/8
BTR Composite Score: 219 1/8
Weapon: Modern Rifle
Location: Lowndes Co. MS
Date: December 20, 2009