Being the new guy on the deer drive means you get stuck with the spot nobody else wants.
As a newcomer to the Bossier Parish ritual, the (rodeo) bull fighter with the funny name, wild beard and weird gun kept his mouth shut.
Everyone else who’d assembled for the deer drive knew where they wanted to be when the dogs were loosed that Saturday morning. Kelby Pearah, who’d been invited by his childhood friend, had neither clue nor preference.
The 24-year-old was along for whatever ride the day promised.
“Everybody went where they wanted to go,” he said. “Since I was the invited guy, I didn’t want to get in anybody’s way, so I just kind of waited. My buddy’s grandpa finally said, ‘Why don’t you just go out in that bottom right there? You might catch one slipping out.’”
And that’s how Kelby wound up in a place better suited for ducks than bucks, at least at first glance.
“I wasn’t really prepared to find the bottom under water. The whole place was flooded, about 8 to 10 inches deep,” he added. “And it was a lot thicker than you’d think.”
He could either stand or sit on a stump, and the hunter from Mansfield, La., armed with a special rifle, chose the more comfortable, bended-knee option.
Kelby, a serial barterer, had traded a British .303-caliber rifle for the one he was carrying that day. He swapped with a friend, Travis Adams, for a World War II-era Russian Mosin-Nagant 91/30 (from 1943).
He brought the antique, open-sighted rifle along for the deer drive even though he hadn’t fired it since first acquiring it at an Arkansas rodeo the previous June.
“I like old guns – anything different,” he said. “The only (standard) deer rifles I have were passed down to me. Most everything I have is unique – a little weird.”
Kelby’s childhood pal, world champion bull rider Cole Echols, called on a Thursday evening to invite him to join his crew for the Saturday morning dog deer drive on private land near Elm Grove, La.
“Everybody was laughing at me because I’ve got a big old beard and I was using a Russian gun,” he said.
The hunting party met roadside, decided on a plan, and then everybody announced where they were going. The drive began at about 7:30.
“I was enjoying being out there, looking at the ducks and squirrels,” he said. “I was just sitting there, listening to the wood ducks, kind of lolly-gagging, when I realized the ducks were leaving.”
Kelby heard the walker hounds barking in the distance and began scouring the bottom for movement. Not long after the woodies took wing, he heard more splashing and saw a deer approaching from about 90 yards distant.
It was so far away, and it was so thick in there, that he could barely tell it was a buck. In fact, when he shot at it, the deer’s head was behind some trees. The first bullet flew wide, but a second one anchored it where it stood.
That the deer didn’t veer off course after the first shot might have been because of gunfire from the nearby Red River – perhaps from hunters shooting at the ducks. Even after staring down the barrel TWICE at the deer, Kelby still had no idea how big it was.
Its head was behind a tree at the second trigger pull as well.
Turns out, the dogs weren’t pushing this deer, which was trying to slip out of the melee. They were running does.
While walking to the deer, Kelby called Cole to tell him he’d shot one. When he reached it and began counting points, the phone was still to his ear.
“The closer I got, I started whooping and hollering, and I said, ‘Dude, you ain’t going to believe … It looks like a little baby moose!’
“He asked how many points it had, and I counted out loud. When I got to 17, he was freaking out. We both were.”
Estimated at 4 or 5 years old, the buck weighed 240 pounds – hefty, but not unusually large for that part of Louisiana.
None of the hunters with access to the property had ever seen or retrieved trail camera photographs of it.
“You don’t ever expect to get anything like this, especially while running dogs,” Kelby said.
“I have to admit: I kinda wondered if those guys might whup me when I came dragging this buck out of their woods,” he added. “But they were true sportsmen. They were plum tickled … just as happy for me as if one of them had killed it.”
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This article was published in the July 2014 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.