If 14-year-old Green Campbell had been given a choice on Oct. 20, 2007, he would’ve gladly given up his ringside seat to one of the most dramatic college football games of the year.
When he retrieved the 200 images from his first-ever trail camera that Saturday morning, which was exciting enough, he came across three shots of an unbelievable buck. Its gnarly rack had so many points that he couldn’t possibly count them all without losing his place.
Green could think of nothing else.
“I was freaking out,” he said. “I wanted to go out and hunt right then.”
But he couldn’t. The family was flying from Shreveport to Baton Rouge to watch their beloved LSU take on Auburn University, a rivalry that often decides who gets the SEC-West title – and, in this case, the national championship.
So while everyone in Death Valley held their breath when LSU quarterback Matt Flynn dropped back with less than 5 seconds remaining in the game, Green still was thinking about the giant that had been within spitting distance of his deer stand. Only when wide receiver Demetrius Byrd picked the pass out of the air in the end zone, cinching the come-from-behind win with one tick left on the clock, did an entire stadium exhale. And, for at least a few seconds, Green forgot about the buck.
The game was every bit the nail-biter fans had witnessed in that stadium almost 10 years earlier. And when it happened in 1988, also at night, the home crowd’s reaction literally registered on a seismograph. In fact, LSU’s Tiger Stadium once was called “Deaf Valley” for that very reason, though sportscasters misunderstood and began referring to it as Death Valley.
The Campbells’ plane touched down in Shreveport about 2 a.m. As soon as he got home, Green set his alarm for 5:00 and crawled in the sack.
The snooze button was bruised before he finally got out of bed.
He didn’t see anything that morning and only a small buck in the afternoon. But then he wasn’t at his best.
“I was so tired, I could barely keep my eyes open,” he admitted.
Monday was a school day. He wanted to return to his stand that afternoon, but his father, Chris, wouldn’t allow Byrd High School’s centerfielder to skip baseball practice.
There was no practice on Tuesday, however, and his dad picked him up after school. He went home, took a shower with scent-free soap and dressed. His father and grandfather walked him to the pecan tree where his climber was hanging. Within minutes, he was 20 feet aloft with his Bodaddy’s open-sighted, .45-caliber muzzleloader.
Green wasn’t accustomed to these primitive guns. He normally doesn’t hunt during the state’s blackpowder season. Louisiana has set aside weeklong, either-sex muzzleloader hunts immediately prior to and after the regular gun season for the zone including Caddo Parish.
Green was hunting the family’s 200-acre horse farm, directly behind his home. He says almost two-thirds of the place is “mangly land.”
First to appear were a small buck and a cull with which the young hunter was familiar. About 6:35, Green saw sunset glinting off antler – a beam that eventually materialized into the enormous buck at 40 yards. It was meandering down the main road that cut through the tract, and then it turned onto the path leading directly to Green’s stand.
“I said a quick prayer. The deer came in to within 15 yards, facing me. It was eating wild pecans. I waited until it started quartering a bit, and then I shot and dropped it.
Green’s yell literally raised the dead, not unlike the cheering that erupted in Deaf Valley when LSU defeated Auburn in 2007 and 1988. The latter has since been called the “Earthquake Game” because of its seismograph readings. During another game with Auburn in 2003, ESPN recorded the crowd’s reaction at nearly 120 decibels.
“The buck was down. But as soon as I yelled, it got back up and ran right underneath me,” said Green, who couldn’t shoot again because he hadn’t reloaded the rifle. “Thank goodness, it went only about 30 yards before falling over dead in a dry creek bed.”
Green didn’t yell that time. He just dug out his phone and called Bodaddy, his father and his best friends.
The teenager has enjoyed the attention. Even now, people sometimes stop him and ask, “Are you the kid who shot that big buck?”
His first inkling that news of his accomplishment had traveled was when he went in for a haircut. Inside the barbershop was his photograph, taped to the mirror. And it wasn’t even his barber who’d done it.
The same thing happened at the local archery shop.
His high school buddies have wasted no time, however, in bringing Green down to earth.
“You are soooooooo lucky,” they coo.
The buck is as impressive on scales as it is by measuring tape. It weighed 265 pounds, not uncommon for that part of Louisiana.
Editor’s Note: Want to read more tales about the world’s greatest whitetails? Subscribe to Rack magazine by calling 1-800-240-3337.
Hunter: Green Campbell
BTR Official Score: 238
BTR Composite Score: 257 1/8
Location: Caddo Parish, LA
Date: October 23, 2007