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University » News Breakers » Tensas River NWR Does It Again

Tensas River NWR Does It Again
by Greg Hicks

There’s no place like home.  Dorothy said it in the “Wizard of Oz” in 1939 and Crowville’s Ricky Caldwell spoke those same words on the Tensas River NWR in 2012. Caldwell was born and raised not far from the land that would eventually become one of the best public land areas in Louisiana to hunt.  The Madison Recreation Hunting Club is where Ricky cut his teeth hunting with his Father at the end of the Sharkey Trail.  It was there in 1965 where he killed his first deer with a .410 that his Father had bought him, but when Chicago Mills sold the land to the government, the Caldwell’s lost their camp and ended up trying to hunt different lands for their quarry, but it never was quite the same as the swamp laden lands that they were accustomed to.

Finally, after hunting a few years away from where his heart always wanted to be, Ricky, along with his son and some friends, were able to buy a small lot on the Tensas River and once again, Ricky was reunited with the land he fell in love with.

Being a farmer, his schedule in the winter is slow and offers him plenty of time to hunt.  Knowing the land and the animals there like he does, Ricky know’s when to be in the woods to be successful in that area and from November 1 until January 31, he’s in a tree just about everyday but on Sundays.

Having already killed a good 8 point, Ricky knew he was in the right spot by the amount of deer that he was seeing one morning earlier in January.  One deer in fact gave him a shot and also taught him a lesson.  Ricky started hunting with a crossbow two years ago, but before that, he was a compound bow hunter and one set up he loved the most was when he could find two trees close together.  This particular day he’d found a set up just like that and was ready for action when he saw a 150 inch buck guard a doe.  As a smaller buck came closer to the doe, the big buck did something most hunters in louisiana have never heard. “He made a growling noise at the little buck.  I’ve heard them talk about a buck roar on TV, but I don’t know if that was it or not ,” said Caldwell.

After watching the buck for an hour, the deer finally gave Ricky a shot, but his attention was so intense on the shot placement that he neglected to see that the front of his cross bow was right at the tree in front of him.  When he pulled the trigger, the limbs lurched forward and struck the truck of the tree and sent his arrow into never never land.  “I was sick when that happened.  So sick I almost puked,” laughed Caldwell

As he made his way back to his truck, he promised himself that he’d never speak of that embarrassing moment and hopefully he’d get a chance at redemption.  Ricky knew that the spot he was hunting was right where the big buck he missed would be hanging out and knew that he’d better hunt it hard if he wanted a trophy.

The relentless pursuit saw him hunt the spot for three days and then give it a break.  Three more days of hunting followed by a few days of rest.  After 12 hunts, Ricky had seen several deer, but nothing that he wanted to put a tag on and finally he’d just about had enough.  “I made the decision that I was going to hunt it one more time and then that’d be it for that spot,” he said.

Tuesday, January 24 found Ricky climbing the same tree for the last time. The temperatures were mild for January and at 9 A.M, he could hear something coming from behind him in the water.  It was a buck and it was coming fast.  When he finally got his crossbow up and ready, the deer turned and started paralleling him at 40 yards.  Every time Ricky tried to stop the massive seven point, he’d keep going until finally he was gone.  Thinking that his opportunity for taking a good deer in his spot had passed him at 40 yards, Ricky was ready to leave, but decided to stay until 10 A.M.

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