posted on October 21, 2012 10:45
By Mike Handley
Is any buck worth a pint of blood, especially if it's extracted by mosquitoes?
Twelve-year-old Thomas Artall of Opelousas, La., doesn't think so. When the kid accompanied his dad, brother and uncle last January for their final hunt of the 2011-12 season, he doused himself liberally with insect repellent.
It might've been the dead of winter, but that can sometimes mean temperatures in the upper 60s or even 70s in St. Landry Parish.
"Sunday, the last day of gun season, was supposed to be hot and humid," the boy said. "When Dad got up, we gathered our gear and headed out for some family land we've hunted for many years."
Accompanying Thomas and his dad, Patrick, were his older brother, Nickolas, and their Uncle Jeffrey. Thomas' stand, an 8-foot-high homemade one, was the closest to the field where they parked.
"My dad waited until I was inside, and then he handed me my .30-06," Thomas said. "I had a pretty good view of a nearby field, the edge of the woods and the trail."
Patrick's stand was about 500 yards distant.
"Just as it was breaking daylight around 7:00, I heard something walking in the woods right in front of me, but I couldn't see it, at first. Eventually, I made out the back end of a deer.
"I couldn't really see over the shooting rail without standing up, and I didn't want to scare it off, so I bent down and looked under the rail ... and saw a rack," he added.
When Thomas first trained his scope on the buck a mere 20 yards away, he couldn't see it. He had to crank it down with his left hand.
"When I found the deer in the crosshairs, I turned (the scope) back up and shot," he said.
Patrick arrived an hour later, and Thomas gestured him over to where he'd last seen the buck.
"There was lots of blood, like it had been poured from a bucket," Patrick said. "When I turned to look in the direction the deer had traveled, I saw it lying in the woods. It hadn't gone 30 yards."
They start early in Louisiana. Thomas began accompanying his father when the boy was only 3 years old. This is his ninth and, no surprise, best deer. It tallies 175 as a Semi-irregular, and the modest spread gives it a composite score of 190 5/8 inches.
Ed Waite shares more details in the story that'll appear in Rack magazine this fall.