By Lisa L. Price
Even when he was young enough to appreciate a bag full of candy, Dewey Kendrick IV had no qualms about wearing camo instead of a Halloween costume and going to the woods instead of knocking on doors.
He was 6 years old the first time he begged his father, Dewey III, to take him hunting when the rest of the kids his age were trick-or-treating. And it was on that day, Oct. 31, when he shot his first deer, a 130ish 8-pointer that field-dressed at a whopping 235 pounds.
“That deer easily outweighed Little Dewey. It was also older than him,” his dad said. “A biologist put that buck’s age at 6 1/2.”
From that point on, Little Dewey had little use for miniature candy bars or taffy wrapped in orange or black paper.
When Halloween came ’round in 2009, it had been 10 years since Little Dewey took his first buck. Repeating that experience would require a lot more work and a lot more luck.
Even the most dedicated of duck hunters had thrown up their hands during Louisiana’s ’09 hunting season. Torrential rains had flooded timber everywhere, even places that hadn’t been under water in years. The result was scattered ducks and transient bucks. The same could be said for hunters. Many roads were washed away, and bridges were rendered impassable by debris, forcing many a break from tradition.
Chomping at the bit to see the sunset from deer stands, the Kendricks checked the weather, discussed it briefly, loaded their gear and struck out for the family’s 2,000-acre farm near the Red River in Rapides Parish.
“We took along a little 10-foot johnboat,” the younger Dewey said. “We figured our rifle stands might be flooded, and we were right.”
The guys were late arriving, so Little Dewey opted for a closer stand to have more time aloft.
“About 5:30 p.m., I caught a glimpse of a shooter buck sneaking through the woods at about 60 yards. I had just enough time to raise my rifle and shoot,” he said. “I heard it thrashing around, and hoped it might have gone down, but my dad said we’d better wait.”
When they did take up the blood trail, just long enough to determine a direction of travel, they reluctantly returned home to Minden, La., to wait for morning.
Knowing which way the buck ran helped immensely, since it rained hard that night.
They had the boat when they returned. But because of the rising water, they couldn’t chance driving the truck anywhere near where they’d parked the previous evening.
“We got our two four-wheelers and loaded the boat on both of them, in between them,” his father said. “We had part of the boat on one, and part on the other, and we drove as close as we could.”
After parking the ATVs, they got in the boat and paddled toward the place they’d last seen blood. Both guys anxiously scanned the water for the deer, staring hard at brown logs. It wasn’t until they paddled to the other side of the flooded area that they spotted it, but not in the position they’d both imagined.
“It was floating belly up,” his dad said. “And I remember thinking it looked kind of small. We couldn’t see its head.”
When they reached the deer, Dewey stuck his arm in the water and groped for the buck’s head. Lifting it was a struggle.
“There’s a lot of brush or something down here,” he told his dad, who was trying to keep the boat from tipping over while Dewey wrestled with the animal.
“I figured it was a good buck, based on what he’d said about it the night before,” said D-III. “But when he pulled it up out of the water, I was amazed. We both just about fell out of the boat.
“When those antlers came out of the water, we were as shocked as if it had been an alligator,” he added.
They couldn’t get the deer into the boat. So Dewey held the buck’s head, while his dad paddled them back to the four-wheelers.
There’s something about Dewey and holidays.
During Thanksgiving break, father and son traveled to Kansas, where Little Dewey arrowed a 185-incher.
“My dad hunted that spot in the morning and saw the same buck, but he couldn’t get a shot at it,” he said. “I went there for the evening hunt, just sitting on the ground back in some cedars, and I shot the deer at 35 yards.”
They didn’t need a boat for that recovery.
“No matter what happens, we always seem to collect a lot of good memories when we’re hunting together,” his dad said. “But seeing that buck’s antlers appear out of the water … that’s something neither of us will ever forget.”
Hunter: Dewey Kendrick IV
Official Score: 174
Composite Score: 194 2/8
– Photos Courtesy of Dewey Kendrick IV
This article was published in the Winter 2010 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.