Buckmasters Magazine

Going the Distance

Going the Distance

By Mike Handley

Twelve hours isn’t a long drive when there’s a monster buck waiting at the other end.

South Louisiana hunters are accustomed to racking up miles whenever they set their sights on big deer. The Sportsman’s Paradise might yield some of the most bodacious bucks on the planet, but coming across one in Acadiana is like looking for alligators in Minnesota.

That’s why 25-year-old John Zaunbrecher Jr. of Eunice, La., doesn’t think twice about driving 12 hours to hunt ground with more promise. And when he does go the distance, he plans to stay awhile.

As soon as John arrived in Randolph County, Mo., in mid-November last year, he went to a store and bought a $100 ladder stand.

While the trip was his third to the Show Me State, it was the first time for him to hunt the 1,200 acres to which his cousins gained access in 2010.

Through trail camera photographs, the cousins had been monitoring a glorious buck that had grown from a clean 5x5 at 2 years old to one with split brows and a kicker with two more years under its paunch.

John set up the stand beside a creek on opening day of rifle season, noted what kind of wind would be best to hunt it, and then hunted elsewhere. There for two weeks, he wasn’t pushed for time.

On the third morning, a Monday, he was greeted with a favorable breeze. Thus, John was in his new ladder stand by 6 a.m. Thirty minutes later, he saw a young buck chasing a doe, and a much bigger buck was bringing up the rear.

When the trio came closer, never slowing, John tried grunting to stop or at least slow down the big buck, but it ignored the call.

“That’s when I tried roaring at it,” he said. “I’d just bought the call before I left Louisiana. I’d never even used it before that morning. But it was supposed to produce a buck roar as well as a grunt.”

The roar got the buck’s attention, and it stopped immediately.

John couldn’t see the whole rack; all he knew was that the one tine he could see plainly was very long. Nor could he see much of the deer when it stopped on the other side of the creek.

Going the Distance“I could see only its throat patch, so that’s where I aimed,” he said.

As soon as the .300 WSM barked, John lost sight of his target. It happened so quickly, he didn’t even know if he hit the deer until a friend, Texan Steve Duhon, joined him to search for sign.

They found no sign, but they did find the deer lying in the blood trail it never left.

The 6 1/2-year-old buck tipped the scales at 260 pounds. Because of the split brows and kicker, which add nearly 16 inches to its tally, the 13-pointer rates as a Semi-irregular in the BTR. Its official score is 172 7/8, and its composite (true gross, with a 22-inch inside spread) is 194 7/8.

“I stayed the whole two weeks anyway,” John grinned. “I was on doe patrol. I also helped chauffeur my cousins to and from their stands, and helped cook for the neighbors. We were all staying in a little bunkhouse attached to the farmer’s shop.”

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This article was published in the August 2014 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.

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Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd