Louisiana bowhunter Rusty Thompson rubbed his eyes, shook his head, and then trudged to the swiss-cheesed target to pull out the spray of arrows. He couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t getting consistent groups.
Almost halfway into his fifth decade on the planet, four of those as an archery addict, he’d never had setup problems like he was having prior to the 2011 deer season.
He was getting more frustrated with every round of thwacks.
“When I couldn’t get accurate, I was thinking, Well, I’m 54 ... My eyesight is apparently not what it used to be,” he said.
In typical doctor-avoidance fashion, he tried everything to tighten up his groups. He changed arrows. He tried different broadheads. But nothing helped.
That’s when he realized his new bow must be defective. When the manufacturer replaced it, much to his relief, Rusty began pummeling dots, and he was eager for his hunting trip to Leavenworth County, Kan.
Meanwhile, his longtime hunting buddy and Kansas resident Mike Talkington was hanging treestands in preparation for the 2011 season and his friend’s visit. One stand, nestled deep in a thicket, seemed very promising.
Mike hunted from the setup the week before Rusty arrived, but he didn’t see anything worthy of an arrow. Even so, Rusty decided to give the thicket stand a shot.
“We’ve been hunting that property for three years,” he said. “We’d seen some decent deer, but nothing really big. Neither of us was aware that it held a buck like the one I got.”
As soon as he saw the buck for the first time on Nov. 6, Rusty knew it was special. There was no need to count points.
“It was in the thicket in front of me, making a scrape,” he said. “I could tell it was a really good buck, and when it came easing slowly through the thicket, it looked better and better.
“I knew the buck was a shooter, so I tried not to look at the rack,” he added. “It came by me at 15 yards, but by the time I drew, it was behind cover.”
Rusty’s many hours of shooting at targets came in handy.
“The buck kept walking up a ridge, quartering sharply away from me,” he continued. “I put the pin on it and let the arrow fly.
“It happened fast,” Rusty recalled. “All I remember is seeing the buck running away after the shot, as if I hadn’t touched it. Those brow tines looked HUGE!”
Rusty watched the buck run about 80 yards and stop.
“The arrow was buried right up to the fletching,” he said. “As soon as it stopped running, I thought for a second that it was just going to walk off, but then it started staggering and fell.”
Even though he’d seen the buck go to ground, Rusty fought the urge to go to it.
“I knew it was a good deer, the best I’d ever shot, but I just sat there for a few minutes,” he said. “After I regained my composure and thanked the Lord, I got down and went over there.”
The buck had looked exceptional while running away from Rusty. It looked even more impressive up close.
The biggest deer Rusty had taken to that point was a 130ish 8-pointer. This one dwarfed it in both antler and body.
“I counted the points three or four times, and each time I got a different total,” he said. “So I decided to stop trying and just call Mike.”
Rusty met Mike at his truck so they could go get their deer buggy to recover the buck. He downplayed the size of the animal so he could see the look on his friend’s face when they reached it.
“He was so excited when he saw the deer and that rack, all he could say was ‘Cuz! Cuz! Cuz!’” Rusty laughed.
Mike and his wife visited the Thompsons in Monroe, La., this year. After admiring the mount and taking it outside to photograph it, they hung it back on the wall.
It fell off afterward, but landed on the couch.
“It could’ve easily hit the floor, but it ricocheted off something and ended up on the couch,” Rusty said. “If those antlers had broken, I’d have died.”
Hunter: Rusty Thompson
BTR Score: 206 5/8
— Photos Courtesy of Rusty Thompson
This article was published in the Winter 2012 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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