When you think of hunting caliber rifles, an AR-15 usually isn’t the first one to come to mind. Well, to Todd Buffington, that’s all a person needs to take down a trophy whitetail buck. Buffington is a biologist for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries at their Webster Parish office, and also oversees a private 80-acre tract of land in Minden, Louisiana within three miles from the local Wal-Mart. The six-year old clear-cut he hunts and looks after isn’t usually known to house record book whitetails; he’s taken some nice deer in the area, but nothing prepared him for what he’d encounter on November 13, 2009.
Armed with a large assortment of rifles to choose from, Buffington decided to take his .223 hunting that day. He settled into his tripod for that morning, and by 8:30, had grown restless from sitting and waiting with no activity. “I had unloaded my rifle [to leave] and reached behind me for my bag when I heard what sounded like a deer grunt, so I loaded my rifle again, and I wasn’t quiet about it by any means,” Buffington explained. As the action slammed shut, a large six-point buck walked out of the brush from the left and stood in the logging road he was hunting. As he tried to get a shot on the buck, the deer bolted into the clear-cut, opposite of the side by which he came. “I knew something large must have beeen out there for that big deer to run, so I waited,” Buffington stated.
He then gave a unique description of what transpired next: “There was a noise coming from the brush that the six-point came from that I can only describe as a D-9 dozer coming through the clear-cut—lots of brush popping and twigs snapping.” Soon thereafter, a four-point and two more bucks leaped from the left side of the brush, into the logging road, and over into the right side before Buffington could even blink. As the noise grew closer, he knew that whatever was causing the commotion was about to be in his lap. At 50 yards out stepped what he would quickly recognize as “a buck of a lifetime.” Knowing the gun he had that day was a light caliber, Buffington made sure to put two shots in the deer—both heart shots, 3 inches apart. The deer ran 30 yards before going down, but the hunter knew that with the smaller .223 bullets, it might take a few minutes for the damage to set in; he held fast with his aim and prayed the buck would stay down.
The deer raised his head once, only to be met with a hot load of lead as a single shot made its way through the deer’s neck, putting it down for good. “I knew it was a good deer,” Buffington recalled, “but when I saw up-close just how good, I immediately called the land owner to come get a look at him.” The elderly landowner, upon being overwhelmed my the brute’s size, hurriedly decided to assist Buffington in getting the bruiser off the property before any potential outlaws found out where the monster was killed.
The deer scored an impressive 170 3/8″ BTR at Simmons Sporting Goods in Bastrop, LA. Buffington went on to say that it wasn’t really the score of the buck that made it special, but the day in which he killed it: November 13. “My grandfather raised me, and that was the 25-year anniversary of his death. I think about him everyday. He taught me everything I know about deer hunting.” We as hunters understand that these moments serve us beyond coincidence. There will always be bigger deer killed than the one Todd was fortunate enough to shoot that day, but the memory of his grandfather and the time they shared together will always remain vivid so long as this buck adorns his mantle.