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Lake life

Big year for big bucks

It’s been a big year for big bucks. And the season isn’t even over yet.

In fact, there’s a new top-tier record deer with potential to cause folks to look up the Louisiana state record on the table right now. The deer was taken in Catahoula Parish and it’s going to cause a little stir, and, well, let’s let official scorer Greg Hicks, the man who’s holding that big set of antlers above, tell us:

“I had the opportunity to score one of the largest typical Louisiana deer that I’ve ever scored before (maybe even THE largest) this morning and I’m still in awe of its characteristics. Chris Temple’s deer has a 20 4/8” inside spread, beams over 25” (one was over 26”), 4 tines over 11”, and over 5” bases. The nontypical or irregular points total just a little over 7” together.

Total score is 190 7/8”. State record typical? Hard to say ….. we’ll see what happens in about 56 days.” — GREG HICKS

Hicks’ post on Facebook this morning also brought to mind another big deer story that will be of particular interest to Union Parish area hunters. It’s from the Big Buck Archives of the Buckmasters website and concerns the 182 4/8 score deer taken in November of 1965 by John Preaus. It still stands as the biggest typical whitetail killed in Union Parish.

Here’s the story, once again told by Greg Hicks:

John Preaus Buck By Greg Hicks

Bill Breed knew. There was no way his friend John Preaus’ buck was a 150-incher.

No way.

When initially measured under the Boone and Crockett system, the big Union Parish whitetail grossed 177. Twenty-seven inches of deductions knocked it down to 150, far below the minimum for the B&C record book.

Not making the grade wasn’t a big deal to John, though shooting it was. Numbers on a scoresheet didn’t make his first deer any less impressive.

But Bill never stopped nagging him until, finally, John let him take the old mount to a Quality Deer Management Association seminar in West Monroe in May 2011.

“Bill called and said, ‘John, your deer just grossed 204 3/8 inches as a Typical.’ I really couldn’t believe it,” John said. “The first guy who scored it must’ve made a wrong calculation, which is why I never bothered pursuing an official score.

“He’s been telling me for years that there’s no way that deer doesn’t score better than 150,” John added.

Of course, numbers beyond point count and weight meant very little to rank-and-file deer hunters back in 1965, the year John shot the buck. He was 16 at the time, and he’d never even seen one until that day (Nov. 27).

He and his brother participating in a dog drive.

“Everybody ran dogs back then. That was the only way we knew how to hunt deer,” he said. “You didn’t still-hunt at all.

“Daddy had gotten us in the Cherry Ridge Hunting Club that year. Mr. D.R. Mullins put us — me and my brother, Joe — on a stand early that morning, near a pipeline up on the Loutre. I honestly had no idea where I was. Mr. Mullins took us back there and said ‘Stand here,’ so we did.

“When the dogs jumped, I sort of looked over to where Joe was standing. He was acting like he’d seen something. He took his gun off his shoulder, went to one knee, and took aim. Something was coming.

“I was probably 150 yards from Joe, so I got ready, too. All of a sudden, I saw this doe and a buck coming at me, together, just sort of loping through the woods,” John said.

“They were running along that pipeline, but when the buck came to a road, it turned and came right toward me. Well, when it leaped over a brush top beside me, I had a scope full of deer, and I shot,” John recalled.

The deer immediately hit the ground 25 yards from John, but clambered to its feet and ran off.  The devastated hunter thought he had missed, even though he knew his rifle — a Model 100 .308 Winchester that his father had given him — never spit bullets anywhere except where it was pointed.

“As soon as I walked into the woods where the deer had gone, I found sign that told me I had indeed hit it. I then looked up saw it 75 yards away, trying to get up. I shot three more times at that deer, and I didn’t touch it,” John laughed.

It didn’t matter, though, because the first shot was dead-on, and the buck died before regaining its feet a second time.

“Well, I couldn’t believe what I had killed, to be honest,” he said. “Then here comes Mr. Olin Forbis on horseback. When he rode up to the deer, he said, ‘John, you just killed the buck of all bucks. Now, you ride this horse to camp ’cause I’m going to ride in the Jeep with this deer. And he did, too!

“We got back to the camp, and everybody was excited about how big a deer it was. It was a huge deal back then to even kill a deer. Union Parish didn’t have them like we do now, so it was really something when a person shot one,” John said.

“D.R. Mullins, Russell Adams, Junior Decelle, Marvin Moon … those are just a few of the people I remember being there, and that meant a lot, because we kids looked up to those men. They were the deer hunters of the day,” John said. “Whatever they told you to hunt with, you did. You had to have an automatic rifle … you had to have a pivot-mount scope … and you had to hunt with dogs. That was the way you hunted.

“Oh, and you hunted where you wanted to,” he added. “There were no leases.”

After showing the buck off that day, John took the deer to the local locker plant for processing.

“Mr. James Cobb skinned my deer. When I went to pick it up, he told me that three loads of squirrel shot fell out of that deer’s hide when he pulled it off him. There’s no telling how many people shot at this deer,” John said.

When the Preaus family later gathered at the dinner table to a meal of the venison young John had supplied, smiling faces turned grim. The meat was as tough as boot leather.

“The one thing I remember most of all was when we sat down to eat some of the meat from that deer. Daddy stood up and said, ‘Looks like I’m going to have to get a chainsaw to cut this!’” he laughed.

“You know, I hung the mount in my home for a while, and then I brought it up to the dealership (Preaus Motors). Now it hangs at our camp on Lake D’arbonne.

“Man, times have changed. We used to be crazy about the possibility of killing a deer,” he remembered. “I grew up with Rex Cobb, Joe Pickle, Dickie Cole, Mickey Ludwig and Billy Anderson, and, man, we all loved to hunt.

“I used to take my Browning Sweet 16 shotgun up to Farmerville High School, leave it in the principal’s office, and then I’d take the shotgun, two boxes of shells and a hunting jacket and put it on Pete Albritton’s bus. We would ride the bus up to Rex Cobb’s house and go squirrel hunting.

“Try carrying a shotgun to school with you these days and see what happens,” he sighed.

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