By Lisa L. Price
Instinct can be a deer hunter’s greatest asset!
Kent Toney’s preseason hunch didn’t make sense to any of his hunting buddies, but they’ll now think twice before dismissing his instincts.
Louisiana’s rifle season usually opens on the last Saturday in October. It ends in the middle of January, and that’s when the state’s deer hunters clear the woods, except for Kent. Rather than call it quits, he begins scouting for the next fall.
The deer hunter from Haynesville and a group of about 10 friends hunt 1,400 acres in Claiborne Parish. Much of the tract is woolly, but it’s crisscrossed by oil pipelines, which is where most of the guys sit and watch.
In January 2008, Kent investigated a hunch about an abandoned oil well site.
“I like to look for sign like rubs in January and February, make my plans for deer season, and then stay out of the woods,” Kent said. “That year, I found a lot of rubs in a 6-year-old cutover.
“In Louisiana, cutovers can get awfully thick, but this one looked like a good spot,” he added. “I told the guys in the hunting club about my plans to clear, plow and plant some oats there, but nobody thought much of it.”
Kent set up a 12-foot-high ladder stand overlooking the area. He cleared and plowed about a quarter acre, although the ground was poor and rocky, and planted buck forage oats.
“I knew I’d have limited visibility, but I’d also be well-concealed,” he said of his new spot. “That’s what I look for: good cover around me. Even then, I hunt only when the wind is right.”
Kent is patient. Although he had bagged a 10- and an 11-pointer in previous years, both scoring in the 140s, he’d gone several seasons without firing a shot.
“Some people can’t take it. They have to shoot a buck. But I’m not like that,” he said. “I don’t mind passing up deer, because I believe it will pay off eventually, and I always try to win our club’s big buck (contest).”
His 2008 season got off to a slow start. The Toneys were in the process of moving into a new house, which kept him out of the woods more than usual. Kent hunted his new spot only once prior to Nov. 25, and he saw a bunch of does and small bucks.
On the fateful day, Kent headed for his ladder with his trusty Ruger .270, the rifle he’d been using since 1981. He was also wearing the same pair of insulated coveralls he’d acquired about the same time.
“I don’t have any of the fancy clothing, and I don’t use any calls or scents. I just like to sit quietly and look around,” Kent said. “The zipper on the coveralls broke awhile ago, but I really like them. They’re comfortable and quiet.”
It was just warm enough for a pair of coveralls that don’t zip. Temperatures were in the 30s, and there was the south wind Kent needed to hunt his ladder.
Late in the afternoon, does and small bucks eased into the food plot.
“I was watching them, figuring they’d let me know if anything else was coming out, but they never looked up,” he said. “When I saw this buck, it was already into the field, head down and feeding.
“As soon as I saw it, I knew it was a shooter,” he said. “It was only about 40 yards away, and I quickly shot and dropped it.
“I didn’t study the rack beforehand. When I got down and walked over there, I was hoping it was as big as I thought,” Kent added. “And it was.”
Kent pulled out his cell phone and called his son, Derek. When he heard his dad say he’d just shot the biggest buck he’d ever seen, Derek’s answer was, “I’ll be there in a minute!”
Good news travels fast.
Derek arrived with his wife, Cheryl, and her two nephews. Kent’s wife, Paula, and daughter, Misty, also came out to see the deer. Afterward, they loaded the buck and took it to the clubhouse for the hunting club members to ogle.
“In northern Louisiana, we’re in the oil field. There are many miles of pipelines and right-of-ways,” Kent said. “For a deer to get 51/2 years old is rare around these parts.”
The buck was big in body as well, tipping the scales at 215 pounds. The average there is in the 160s.
“This is the result of letting some of the 8-pointers walk,” Kent said. “That’s what our club is trying to do.
“When I shot my 11-pointer a few years ago, my son said I should get it mounted. But I told him I wanted to wait for a bigger one. He told me I wasn’t ever going to get one bigger than that.
“Hah! But I did,” he added.
And what did Kent find under the Christmas tree in 2009? Why, a new pair of insulated coveralls, complete with working zipper, courtesy of his wife.
Hunter: Kent Toney
Official Score: 160 4/8
Composite Score: 177 6/8
– Photos Courtesy of Kent Toney
This article was published in the November 2010 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.