By almost anyone’s yardstick, the deer Brennan Morris shot this season was a prime candidate to be culled in 2019. Few practitioners of QDM allow a mature buck with four spindly points on one side and two on the other to spread its genes.
Yet those who hunt the 3,000 acres in Richland Parish, Louisiana, were content to ignore it, a decision enabling Brennan to score a state record with a loaner crossbow in 2020. Nobody could’ve predicted the substandard 6-pointer’s next rack would gain another 40 points.
The affable 24-year-old farmer says he was simply in the right place at the right time, a situation made possible only because the man whose stand he borrowed couldn’t hunt that day. He’d also borrowed his uncle’s crossbow for the short hunt because he hadn’t had time to shoot his compound bow to that point in the season.
Brennan has hunted the farm for the past eight years, and he and his buddies are picky. They target only bucks that are at least 5 1/2 years old, which is why he hadn’t shot one in the five years leading up to 2020.
The gang first became acquainted with the buck that broke his dry spell from trail camera photographs taken in 2017, when it was a 2 1/2-year-old 3x3. It was easy to recognize thereafter because its long brow tines resembled a set of parenthesis. Also, its tail was extremely short.
The whitetail wore several more points in 2018, but it broke off most of both main beams before it was seen in the flesh. In 2019, it was an unremarkable 4x2.
In 2020, however, its rack would surpass the 300-inch mark.
The first trail cam photo was taken on Nov. 1.
“That Sunday night, I was lying in bed when my phone pinged. There was an image of this unbelievable buck,” Brennan said. “The camera that showed the buck was near a 20-foot ladder stand that belongs to another member of our group, Dakin Hines. I called and told him a state-record deer was hanging around his stand, and he thought I was kidding.”
Dakin was unable to hunt until Wednesday morning, and the deer was a no-show. Neither did Brennan’s brother, Logan, see anything when he sat in the stand that afternoon.
“Dakin had to work Thursday and told me I should go in there since I was working in the area. Logging was scheduled to begin. Also, we knew the approaching rut might cause the deer to go somewhere else,” he said.
“On Thursday, Nov. 5, I decided to go early and hunt for an hour or two until I had to get back on the tractor for the day,” he continued.
“I normally bowhunt with a compound bow, but we’d been so busy that I hadn’t even had time to pick up a bow and practice, much less hunt. I didn’t feel right going out and trying to shoot a deer — especially a deer this big — with a compound when I hadn’t been practicing.
“The last thing I wanted to do was wound it,” he said.
“My only option was to borrow my uncle’s crossbow. He has shoulder troubles, so he bought one a few years ago. I had helped him sight it in when he first got it. I hadn’t shot it since, but I was confident I could make a shot with it.”
The morning did not go smoothly.
First, Brennan was late getting to the stand. He’d been in such a hurry and had so little time to hunt that he didn’t bother wearing his usual clothes; he merely slipped on a camouflage jacket.
Next, he forgot to cock the crossbow until he was atop the ladder. He then dropped one of the two bolts he’d brought with it, and it pinged every rung on its way to the ground.
Less than a half-hour later, Brennan heard something approaching within the nearby palmettos.
“Awhile later, I turned my head and was shocked to see this buck standing right next to me, 20 yards away,” he said. “It moved like a ghost, not making a sound.
As the animal stepped into the clear, Brennan’s finger tightened on the crossbow’s trigger, which wouldn’t budge because he’d forgotten to disengage the safety.
“When it made a clicking sound, the buck’s head spun in my direction. It was looking right at me as I lowered the crossbow because, in that moment, I couldn’t even remember how to turn the safety off,” he admitted.
The rattled hunter realized what to do just before the buck put pedal to metal.
With a BTR score of 309 6/8 inches, the 46-pointer is Louisiana’s new crossbow record. It’s also No. 2 in the world within its category.
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