Time to shine for Louisiana man
By Greg Hicks
November 8, 2008 is a date that will live with me forever. I was definitely at the right place at the right time, and sheer luck was on my side that entire day.
It was unusually cold in northern Louisiana, and my feet were simply extensions of my legs.
My LaCrosse Granges, or what I call the official state boot, didn't offer a break from the cold because they had absolutely no insulation. I didn't think I'd need it. After all, it's Louisiana!
The small box stand where I sat that morning was nothing more than an aluminum cage - the kind polyethylene tanks come in. It was wrapped in roofing paper, and cold morning air lingered inside.
After an uneventful morning, I decided to move to another stand for the afternoon hunt, hoping the blood would start flowing again to my extremities. That stand was a few miles away, so I drove my truck and parked in my usual spot.
I exchanged hellos with hunters who were leaving empty-handed. I knew luck would obviously be needed if I was to be successful, and headed to my special spot for the afternoon.
This was to be a meat-getting day, and I'd already decided anything larger than a spike buck was going home with me.
Wouldn't you know it? As I rounded a bend, a spike standing in a lane caught my eye.
It was grazing 150 yards away with my box stand dead between us. I could tell it was facing away, and I tried to slip to the stand without alerting the little buck.
I made it within 20 yards of the stand when I heard a crash to the left of the lane where the spike stood.
A doe nervously jumped into the clearing not far behind the spike. Her actions seemed odd, and after she disappeared, I quickly saw why.
The spike watched her disappear, then turned toward the direction she'd come from. Its ears suddenly pinned back, and I instinctively knew what was coming.
When the big buck stepped out, I almost fainted!
Its high rack swung toward the spike about the same time I felt the wind hit the back of my neck.
I knew it was now or never, so I raised my rifle and attempted to shoot.
Despite my scope shaking from the excitement, I can still remember seeing that buck in the crosshairs. When the lines crossed the buck's shoulder, I squeezed off a shot.
It bolted. Just like that, my hunt was over. Eventually I composed myself and asked aloud, "Did that really just happen?"
Twenty minutes earlier, I'd been listening to high school football scores on the radio.
Slowly, I eased over to the place where the buck had entered the wood line. To my surprise, there wasn't a shred of evidence indicating a hit - not even a graze!
I made a few more steps into the woods but saw nothing. Thinking I'd missed and not wanting to disturb the area, I backed out and went home.
Two hours later I returned with a climbing stand and a trail camera. Getting another shot at this buck was now my goal for the year.
I eased into the woods where it had run, all the while scanning for blood, just in case.
As I made my way to a creek, I saw a stand of white oaks and knew this was the spot to hunt.
I stepped down into the creek bed, found an easy exit route and climbed back out.
As I stood there looking for a place to hang my stand, I saw something that made me almost fall out again.
There it was! My buck was lying beside one of the white oaks.
I couldn't believe my shot had been perfect. The buck simply didn't bleed at all. To this day, it's my best buck and one I still smile about each time I see its rack.
Hunting is a game of chance, and November 8, 2008 was my day to shine!