A WIDE WORLD OF HUNTING
Stakeout Ends With Unexpected Bonus
By Shannon Deville
Photo: Shannon Deville of Lafayette, La., would never have been in the right place to harvest Louisiana’s No. 1 Perfect (rifle) if someone hadn’t broken into his brother-in-law’s truck and if ‘Junior’ hadn’t decided to lure the culprit(s) into one last act of vandalism. As a result, the huge 7x7 buck has helped rejuvenate interest in the Sportsman’s Paradise’s beefy whitetails
After a long day of preparing and smoking some fresh venison sausage, my brother-in-law, Olen Quebedeaux Jr., asked if I would mind playing the role of decoy. Earlier that week, vandals had twice broken into his unattended vehicle while “Junior” was hunting. He figured that the culprits waited until they saw him riding his four-wheeler into the woods, and he wanted to tempt them at least one more time.
Junior’s plan was to park his truck in the usual place and unload the four-wheeler. While I rode the ATV to his treestand, he would hide in a nearby ditch with a camera — so that he could photograph the bold thieves.
We arrived at his usual entry point to the 90-acre tract at about 4:15 p.m., and I was soon heading for his stand. I parked at the woods line and then followed a trail to his favorite tree at the edge of some flooded St. Landry Parish bottomland. I quietly climbed into position and immediately started picking out the shooting lanes that he had cut.
As I gazed at the palmetto-studded jungle, I couldn’t get over how quiet the woods were. But the peace was shattered only minutes later by a loud bang about 200 yards in front of me. Imagining a fleeing buck sailing my way, my grip tightened on my rifle. After about 5 minutes of seeing or hearing nothing, I started scrutinizing every piece of brush I could see. That’s when I caught a glimpse of antler floating above the thick palmetto to my right.
By the time I raised my .270 and started searching for the buck in my scope, he had stopped. He blended in with his surroundings so well that I did not see him until he started moving again — quartering away from me at about 40 yards in the thickest possible cover. I frantically searched for one of Junior’s shooting lanes, but there were none.
Finally, the top of the buck’s left shoulder passed through my crosshairs long enough for me to squeeze off a shot. Afterward, I saw nothing. He’d either collapsed (I hoped) or somehow vanished without a sound.
In my haste to determine
which, my feet missed the ladder’s bottom two rungs. After catching my breath,
I almost ran to the only brown patch that I’d seen from the treestand, which
was not a deer at all. It was, to my dismay, a dead palmetto leaf.
Believing that I had missed the only deer I had seen in the woods during the 2000-2001 season, I was heartbroken!
When my pulse returned to normal a second time, I began searching for signs of a hit. I circled back and forth where I thought the deer had been standing, and I could not help but think of Junior sitting in that ditch and wondering what had caused all the commotion.
Just as I was about to give up the search, I happened to look toward the base of a large tree. The buck was right there, facing straight away from me. As its incredible rack came into focus, I could not believe what I was seeing. I was so shocked that I fell to my knees and just stared. When I finally lifted his head, I screamed with joy!
Then it hit me: In less than 30 minutes, I had shot the buck that Junior had been hunting for four long years. Junior had found huge scrapes and rubs there every year, but he’d never seen the deer responsible.
Loading the monster onto the four-wheeler was easy compared to showing up back at the truck with Junior’s trophy buck strapped to it.
I did not see Junior until he jumped up from his hiding place and ran over to get a better look at the 7x7. After uttering a few choice words, he congratulated me with a sportsman’s handshake.
Whenever we’re together, it is hard to tell which of us actually bagged the deer. We both share a certain amount of pride in the harvest.
Junior has shown off the impressive antlers more than I have, parading the rack throughout the towns of Opelousas, Washington and Lebeau, La.