When Doug Laird of Russellville, Missouri, talks about the deer he shot in 2014, pronouns appear to jump the tracks.
“A big buck came through at 9 a.m., about an hour before I normally leave the woods,” he says. “It had a small doe with it, and an 8-pointer was chasing her. The 8-pointer stopped broadside, right in a clearing. I put the crosshairs on him and thought, It ain’t quite big enough. I’ll give him another year or two.
“The big one and the little doe came back through there right before dark,” he continues.
Both deer were in the wide open, and he shot the doe.
“The doe had a little doe with her,” he repeated. “Of course, I thought it was a buck. It was about a 65- or 70-yard shot, and it dropped off in this ditch afterward. I didn’t know if I knocked her in it, or if she just jumped.”
Here’s what happened: Doug saw three deer from his stand that day in Moniteau County. One was the “too-small” 8-point buck to which he gave a pass. The other two were does, including the deer with the bigger rack, the one he shot.
He shot a nearly 200-inch antlered doe, the largest ever recorded. He hopes she’ll be included in three record books: those published by Buckmasters, the Boone and Crockett Club and Guinness.
Few people heard about Doug’s accomplishment until January 2016, when he brought the mounted 15-pointer to the Monster Buck Classic in neighboring Kansas. He wanted to know, for the record, how much she scored.
Doug says he had no idea he’d shot a doe until his taxidermist began gutting it at his shop. When they noticed the deer’s plumbing, they called the Missouri conservation department, which sent someone to photograph it.
The complete lack of male genitalia wasn’t the only jaw-dropper.
“She still had a little milk in her teats,” Doug said. “Or that’s what it looked like. There was definitely some liquid.
“It makes sense. I thought the big buck was chasing a doe, and the little 8-pointer wanted in on it, too. Several days later, I got to thinking about it. And then it dawned on me: That was her baby, the little doe with her. It wasn’t just another doe!” he added.
Doug will always remember that November day. The temperature was in the 30s when he climbed into the ladder stand on a friend’s property before daybreak.
The stand is one of few Doug can climb and from which he feels comfortable shooting. Because he has only one arm – the result of a work-related accident 20 years ago – he can’t shoot without a solid rest, and that stand’s rail offers a good one. Otherwise, he hunts from the ground and rests his gun against trees and limbs.
The ladder offers him a view of a gap deer routinely cross to travel from bedding to feeding areas.
The antlered doe and her mostly grown fawn passed through at 9:00, the 8-point buck in tow. The 4x4 might have been chasing one of them.
Doug would’ve shot the antlered doe as soon as he saw her, but he couldn’t get his rifle up and pointed in time. He was ready when the 4x4 stopped, but he decided to let it keep on trucking.
Because the wind direction was perfect that day, Doug decided the same stand was his best shot at getting another chance at the big deer. They’d gone into their bedding area when he saw them that morning. Maybe they’d come out on the same path, he hoped.
“There’s a real thick cedar patch in there, and we figure that’s where the deer pretty much bed down,” he said. “We stay out; don’t want any human scent in there whatsoever.”
The deer read the script.
When the big one and the little doe – its daughter – appeared within 70 yards, Doug’s .243 Remington semiauto was in position. All he had to do was squeeze the trigger.
After the shot, he saw the deer’s head lift above the nearby ditch’s rim a couple of times as if the animal were trying to regain its feet. But he never saw it stand or run. As a precautionary measure, Doug waited an hour before getting down and walking over to where the whitetail had absorbed the bullet.
He was alarmed when not only did he not see his dead deer, but there was also no blood.
Doug’s hunting buddy, the landowner, suggested they wait until the next day to mount a search. There was supposed to be a frost, and he felt tracking would be easier.
They found only a couple of specks of blood the next morning, and then they looked for another two hours before stumbling across the dead 15-pointer. It had traveled a mere 60 yards and fallen in some briars next to a fence it apparently couldn’t jump.
The bullet didn’t exit, which accounts for the lack of a blood trail.
“My friend had walked right by it and didn’t see it,” Doug said.
The landowner has five trail cameras and three food plots on the farm Doug was hunting.
“We never got a picture of her,” Doug said. “We got pictures of the 8-pointer I passed up that day. But where she came from, we don’t know.”
The only clues they had that a sizeable deer might be roaming the tract were three or four huge rubs on cedar trees.
The deer’s BTR composite score is 199 7/8 inches.
Hunter: Doug Laird
Official Score: 180 7/8”
Composite Score: 199 7/8”
– Field Photo Courtesy of Doug Laird