posted on September 09, 2012 07:34
By Mike Handley
A guy at last month’s Buckmasters Expo asked me which states are the top yielders of record book deer.
“No, wait. Let me guess: Illinois, Wisconsin and Texas, right?” he ventured.
“Nope,” I answered. “If you want the top three, they’re Kansas, Louisiana and Ohio.”
“I can see Kansas and Ohio, but Louisiana? Really?” he asked.
At just that moment, Cecil Reddick, the BTR’s regional director for Louisiana and Mississippi, wandered into the conversation and began counting off the 200-inchers taken in his home state last season.
“And several of those came off public land … in a state where licenses are sold over the counter,” I added.
“No way!” the man said.
Several of these bucks have been or will be featured in Rack magazine this year. Ricky Caldwell’s giant, taken off the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, is among them. In fact, his is the second new state record to come out of the Tensas in 2011. Ricky, his son and some friends own a small lot on the Tensas River, and they hunt the refuge where Ricky shot his very first deer back in 1965 – before the tract was sold to the government.
He’s a farmer, which means he has plenty of time for hunting between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31.
Ricky missed a 150-incher last January. He was so moved by the deer and upset with his mistake that he vowed to return to that same spot as soon and as often as possible. In a dozen trips -- hunting three days at a time before giving the place a rest -- Ricky saw several deer, but not the big one. He soon grew weary of the chase. “I made the decision that I was going to hunt it one more time, on Jan. 24, and that would be it for that spot,” he said. A little more than an hour later, he took a 35-yard poke at a buck that made the previously missed 150-incher look like a fawn. And because crossbows have only recently been embraced in Louisiana, the 15-pointer easily set the bar, and high.
At 184 inches (203 6/8 composite), Ricky’s public land buck is a state record as an Irregular in the crossbow category. The other three deer felled by bolts there are classified as Perfects.
Greg Hicks’ story about this fabulous Madison Parish brute’s demise will appear in Rack magazine this fall.