Big bucks starting to make the news

Dustin Clouatre downed this big buck with his crossbow October 1, opening day of archery season. (Courtesy photo)

By Glynn Harris

Sun Outdoors

Archery season for deer is underway in Louisiana and already some impressive bucks have been making the news.

As a writer for LA Sportsman magazine, I have had the privilege of covering the stories for three successful deer hunters who got their trophy bucks with either bow and arrow or crossbows.

First to come to my attention was 10 point buck taken with a crossbow by St. Amant hunter Dustin Clouatre on October 1, opening day for archery hunting. His story is especially interesting as the buck he arrowed was taken on a hunting club in E. Baton Rouge parish and the event took place 15 minutes from Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.

“I was putting out feed the day before season opened, returned to my side-by-side, looked up to see this big buck already sampling the rice bran I had just put out,” said Clouatre.

On opening day, the buck showed up at the bran pile that afternoon and Clouatre shot under him. Remaining in his stand feeling dejected that he had missed the buck, Clouatre was surprised to see the buck once again approach the feed. This time his shot was true on the big 10 point buck scoring 145 4/8 inches of antler mass.

Next up was Arcadia’s Mike Chandler, retired Lincoln Parish school bus driver, who hunts on a lease south of Simsboro. Chandler is a bow hunter but a back injury had reduced his capability to pull back a conventional bow so he opted for a crossbow.

Chandler’s trail cameras had been capturing images of a good buck for the past four years and on the afternoon of October 2, he was hoping for a chance at the buck.

“I don’t use conventional feeders because it seems to me that a mature buck can become leery of feeders so I just put feed on the ground,” said Chandler.

Late that afternoon, Chandler was sitting in his ladder stand when three bucks appeared. He recognized the buck he had been seeing on his camera as one of the three. Waiting until the buck presented a broadside shot, Chandler dropped the big eight point that measured at least 140 inches of antler bone.

Chris Felder lives in the village of Ethel in E. Feliciana Parish and the area he hunts is private land in adjoining W. Feliciana Parish.

The buck he was targeting was still in velvet but had been a no-show on his trail camera; his image finally appeared on the camera one time the week before season opened.

Late on the afternoon of October 1, Felder placed rice bran on the ground before climbing into his lock-on stand he had hung in the woods in a big pine that was located next an oak flat. Momentarily, he began hearing something walking in the woods. It would take a few steps and then stop.

“I thought it may have been one of the smaller bucks I had seen so I reached in my bag and got my phone to start videoing what I thought would be one of the smaller bucks. When the buck stepped into a small clearing with his rack showing, I put down my camera and picked up on compound bow,” Felder said.

The buck finally stepped out and Felder was able to put the pin on the buck’s vitals and released his arrow after which the buck took off through the woods.

After an extended search utilizing the help of friends, he was finally able to retrieve the impressive velvet-racked buck that measured 152 inches of antler. When dressing the buck, Felder was shocked to find the deer had been shot twice before as he retrieved a mushroomed bullet in the bucks shoulder as well as a handful of small shotgun pellets in the neck.

As evidenced by the success of this trio of hunters, this season promises to be one not only exciting but full of intrigue.

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