posted on April 16, 2012 07:20
By Mike Handley
Had Tadpole McLeod been hunting alone on Jan. 7, he'd have thrown in the towel long before sunset.
The commotion in his formerly quiet corner of Louisiana's Tensas National Wildlife Refuge was almost more than the bowhunter from Starks, La., could bear. It was as if an insane, broom-wielding maid was beating a rug to death.
But since rugs don't squawk, he realized buzzards were to blame for the din that set his teeth on edge.
"About 4:00, they went to roost about 150 yards behind me," said Tadpole, whose real name is Alton. "There must've been 30 of them, making all kinds of noise. Seriously, I thought the day was done at that point. The only reason I stayed in my tree was because I didn't want to mess up my buddies' hunts."
An hour later, he heard something -- either a deer or a bear, from the sound of it -- approaching from his left through the palmetto, almost from the direction of the roost tree. Knowing he'd better be ready if it happened to be a deer, he stood and held his bow.
Seeing a partial rack at 30 yards was all Tadpole needed; he never gave the antlers a second glance. He watched the buck make a scrape, and then it began walking straight toward him.
"I didn't know how good of a buck it was," he said. "I thought it was just an 8- or a 10-pointer, so I pretty much focused only on its body."
Tadpole drew his bow when the deer passed behind a tree. He was hoping it would turn and offer anything but a head-on shot, but it didn't.
When the animal cleared the tree, it lowered its head, swung it from side to side and began sniffing the ground. Tadpole, convinced it was going to reverse course in an instant, leaned out and shot the buck through the shoulder blades.
The spined buck dropped like it had been hit in the face by a wrecking ball.
After Tadpole lowered his bow and began descending, eyes glued to the buck, he thought he saw either palmetto fronds or vines entangled in the antlers' left side. It wasn't until he walked up to the deer that he realized the vines were actually more antler.
The narrow-racked Madison Parish deer took top honors at four big buck contests, no surprise since it's a new state bow record.
The antlers tally 207 5/8 on the BTR scale. A 14-inch inside spread gives it a composite score of 221 5/8.
You can read the rest of the story in Rack magazine next fall.