Deer breeding has become big business in Louisiana, and with over 300 facilities located throughout the state, it was just a matter of time before one was killed outside the fence. One such facility–River Road Whitetails–is a 360 acre bowhunting-only enclosure situated in Calcasieu Parish. Until now, this parish has had a virtual non-existent relationship with the mammoth whitetails native to other areas of the Bayou State, so it came as quite a surprise to some when rumors swirled of a 200” plus buck being harvested on a local hunting club called the Moalda Ranch.
Regardless of one’s personal ethical standards regarding commercial deer hunting, there’s little doubt as to what action a hunter would take when encountering a buck of this stature on free and open ground, as Jacey Broussard can attest during her first of four sightings beginning in early November on her Moss Bluff, Louisiana lease. “I was riding my horse on our 480 acres, when I turned the corner and saw a massive buck easing away from me,” Jacey recounted. “I knew no one would believe just how big this buck was, so I got off the horse and was able to sneak up close enough to snap a picture of him.”
The next day, the buck began appearing on several trail cameras located at feeding sites throughout the property. “He moved around the property so much. He was everywhere!” Jacey recalled.
Gene Trahan, of River Road Whitetails, knew that buck very well, but at the time assumed he was still inside the fence. “He came from Pennsylvania this year with seven other deer,” Trahan said. “He was one of the larger bucks on the property, and gross scored 226 inches. I never imagined he’d escaped, because these deer still have to be hunted like any other deer and I just assumed he was hiding the whole time.”
Back on the Moalda property, it was up for grabs who could bag the deer first. “It was anybody’s game, but everyone knew how bad I wanted that buck,” Jacey laughed. One of the locations the giant made regular appearances at was a stand she liked to hunt called The Willow Stand. “He was always under that feeder between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., and I knew that was where I’d have the best opportunity to kill him,” she said.
Due to Jacey’s work schedule, she could only hunt weekends, and Saturday, November 19 was the first day she could get in there to hunt him. “About 6:45 a.m., I heard what sounded like a freight train coming through the woods, and he rushed into the opening and stopped, staring straight at me,” Jacey recalled. Before she could get her gun settled on him, he stepped behind a tree and disappeared. “I was sick,” Jacey said. “I sat the rest of the day in that stand and didn’t see a thing.”
The next morning, Jacey found herself in the same stand, and at 9:30 she heard the distinct sound of the “freight train” coming through again. This time, however, the hunter was ready, but the buck never stopped. “He shot full-speed across the lane behind the feeder, and I never could make a good shot,” she explained.
With three encounters and still no luck on killing the beast, Jacey had to cut her losses and return to a long week at work on Thanksgiving Week. “I tortured myself everyday that week, because all the other guys who hunt our place had pictures of him too, and I just knew I was going to get a phone call telling me he’d been shot,” she stated. As luck would have it, the buck survived that week, and Jacey was back at it at first light Saturday, November 26.
“I packed a lunch and wasn’t moving from that stand,” Jacey laughed. There was only one problem. The property had a full house and everyone else was after the buck as well. “I was physically sick, sitting on stand, waiting to hear a shot from someone else,” she stated.
As if on schedule, the faint thrashing of bone against saplings grew louder, and Jacey knew the buck was on his way. “You don’t have to watch too close for this deer. He comes crashing through like he owns the place,” she laughed. And as he came trotting up from her right side, she shot, and watched him cross the lane and crash 20 yards to her left.
That’s when the text messages started flying. “I got ‘em! I got ‘em!” she blasted out to her husband and father-in-law. Plenty of high fives and celebration ensued.
And when photos of the big buck started buzzing around the Lake Charles area, the pieces of the puzzle began to fall together at River Road Whitetails.
“We had a long Thanksgiving weekend at the ranch,” Trahan explained. “I was tired Sunday, turned my phone off, and decided to sleep through all that rain.” And when Trahan turned his phone on Monday morning, the text message bombardment began. “I knew right when I saw the pics that it was him, and at first, my stomach dropped. This whole time I’d been thinking that the buck had been injured or was hiding due to all the hunts we’d been hosting on the place the last couple of weeks, so when I saw him dead and in the hands of a stranger, my mind began racing,” he laughed.
It wasn’t until Trahan spoke to the Broussard’s and saw the trail camera photos they’d been getting of the buck, as well as hearing the sequence of events, that the reality of what actually occurred set in. “It all made sense,” Trahan said. “Two to three weeks ago, we were having issues with our electric gates. It must not have fully closed and he escaped, because we walked the fence 50 times and there was no way he got through it anywhere but the gate.”
After escaping, the giant swam the Calcasieu River and found his way to the Moalda Ranch four miles away, calling this new area his home. Perhaps he should have stayed inside the enclosure, for it not for the persistence and determination that Jacey expounded, he might have lived to fight another day.
In Louisiana, any deer that escapes from an enclosure must be recaptured within 72 hours or killed to prevent the spreading of disease to the native herd, and Trahan was relieved the buck was harvested. “Someone needed to put him down, and it couldn’t have happened to a better person,” he stated. “If it wouldn’t have been Jacey, it would have eventually been someone else, and I’m thrilled for her!”
And what did Jacey have to say about her buck-of-a-lifetime?
Hunting is never going to get old for me. He was only my third deer, and one I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to top. Everyone out there was rooting for me to kill him, and I’m amazed that no one else ever saw this buck. We have a history; that’s for sure, and he’s going to look great on the wall.
Congrats to you Jacey for getting the first and final crack at this monster!