Dr. Michael O’Neal would no doubt have gotten a big 12 point buck even without his seven year old son, Wesley’s whispered encouragement but the fact that the youngster was there with him added something extra to the hunt.
O’Neal, an internal medicine physician who works Ochsner Health Center in Monroe had his son with him on October 9 on Ashbrook Island along the Mississippi River, a hunting club in which he holds membership.
“I was targeting a buck that first showed up on our cameras in 2017 as a 10 point. He was a 10 point the following year and then in 2019, he had developed two ‘kickers’ that carried over to this season,” said O’Neal.
Around 4:15 on the afternoon of Saturday, October 9, O’Neal had his son, Wesley, with him and chose a site to hunt from a lock-on stand that overlooked several persimmon trees that were producing fruit, a favorite food for deer.
“There were actually two lock-on stands in a tree and I got Wesley tied in and secured on one of the stands while I got in the other just above where he sat. I had been teaching him about the age difference in deer and that afternoon, we got to see several of different ages as the deer began showing up to feed on the persimmons,” O’Neal said.
With the first deer showing up within minutes after settling into their stands, the father and son got to speculate on the ages of the bucks.
“We had a small 6 point and then another little 8 point show up and Wesley was whispering to me correctly that these bucks were immature. Later, I saw a bigger deer standing behind some brush at around 50 yards and when it stepped out, Wesley whispered, ‘Dad, that’s a mature buck,’ He had my phone and began videoing the buck as it approached the persimmon tree. When it got there, Wesley whispered, ‘Dad, you gotta shoot this one; he’s mature’,” the doctor continued.
The youngster became impatient and wondered why his dad hadn’t take a shot at thebuck but there was a slight problem.
“Wesley had a good clear view of the deer but there was a small branch in the way obscuring my visibility. When the buck finally stepped out from behind the branch at 18 yards, I released the arrow,” he said.
O’Neal shoots a Mathews bow and uses Gold Tip arrows and Rage broadheads. His shot was dead on as the buck only ran 25 yards before tipping over. The buck, estimated to be 7 ½ years old, had lost weight over the years, probably weighing 220 pounds in its prime but weighed in at 199 pounds. The rack was a main frame 10 point with two sticker points making it a 12 point. Inside spread was 19 inches, main beams were 22 inches each with good mass throughout the rack. The buck was green scored at 149 6/8 inches.
“This hunt would not have been nearly as special had Wesley not been there with me to witness the whole thing. When we got down, he wanted to follow the blood trail even though the deer had fallen within sight of us. When it was all over, he said, ‘Dad, I was your good luck charm today and I think this is my favorite memory of all time.’”
It’s likely lessons learned on this hunt and a special memory are something the youngster will carry with him when he’s old enough to hunt on his own.
CANEY LAKE – Bass are on submerged points next to the deeper holes with deep diving crank baits and oversized plastic worms working best. Blair Sherman landed a 9.5 pounder. Crappie are still around the tops but some have started moving to deeper water where most will be once cold weather sets in. Bream are slow to fair on worms and crickets. No report on catfish. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
OUACHITA RIVER – Bass are best in the river lakes on soft plastics and jigs. Crappie are best in river lakes and around tops in the river. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Crappie have yet to begin moving to the channel. Fishing has been best fishing 12-14 feet deep in 20 foot water on the flats on shiners or jigs. Bass have been in deep water and hitting soft plastics and crank baits. Bream fishing has slowed while catfish are still biting cold worms fished off the banks.. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368- 9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Stripers have slowed with a few caught trolling white bucktails as most of the schooling activity has ceased since weather turned cooler. The bream have slowed but a few have been caught on worms and crickets off the banks. No report this week on bass fishing. Crappie are mostly in deep water with shiners or pink colored jigs picking up a few. Catfish have been caught using small bream for bait as well as wiener sections soaked in various concoctions. For latest info, call Misty at Kel’s Cove at 331-2730 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
BUSSEY BRAKE – Bass have been fair around the grass and trees on crank baits and Rat-L-Traps. Crappie are scattered and fair; bream fishing is fair on worms and crickets. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Fishing overall is rather slow. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest info.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfishing has been good with mostly smaller fish being caught. Crappie are off and on using shiners or jigs. No report on bream or bass. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – The lake is being lowered but the gates have now been closed. Fishing overall has been quite slow. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is rising a foot a day which has put a damper on fishing. A few crappie have been reported. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
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