When John Preaus was 16 years old, he shot the first buck he'd ever seen.
"I was a junior in high school when I shot the buck on Cherry Ridge hunting club, a lease my dad joined to give my brother, Joe, and me a chance to deer hunt. Dad wasn't a deer hunterbut he wanted us to have the chance to hang out with and learn from club members and savvy hunters like D. R. Mullins and Olen Forbess," Preaus explained.
On their initial hunt, the two boys were taken to an area along a pipeline in Bayou de Loutre bottom by Mullins and placed about 150 yards apart. The club was running dogs that day so instructions were to listen for the hounds and get ready. Since it was "bucks only" hunting, they knew they had to concentrate on seeing antlers.
"We heard the dogs coming and as they were getting closer, I saw my brother shoulder his rifle, so I decided I'd better do the same. I saw a doe and a buck coming through the woods parallel to the pipeline," Preaus recalled.
Standing at the junction of an old road that ran perpendicular to the pipeline, Preaus was certain that the buck would cross the road. However, the buck skirted the road jumping over pine tops left there by a recent timber harvest. He was headed right toward me and I decided my best chance at a shot was to shoot him in mid-air as he bounded over a pine top. He sailed over a brush top at 25 yards and I pulled the trigger," he added.
Preaus watched the buck hit the ground, wheel around and take off running. Being a novice deer hunter, he figured he'd missed.
"I assumed I'd just missed the first buck I ever saw. However when I walked over to where he was when I shot, I began to see evidence I'd hit the deer. I looked over a brush pile and found a big blood splatter and then I looked out through the woods and saw the buck trying to get up. I had a flip mount on my scope so I flipped it aside and used my iron sights to miss the buck three times. He expired but not because of my marksmanship; I never hit the deer any of those shots," Preaus said, chuckling.
The buck sported 15 points with an estimated weight of at least 225 pounds and was judged to be probably six or seven years old.
Here is where the story gets interesting...
"After having the deer mounted, I had it scored by someone who was not an official scorer. His score was 177 gross and 155 net. That was fine with me; I just knew I'd killed a good buck and was quite satisfied," he added. Contented, Preaus has for the past 46 years, had the mount hanging at various times at his parent's home, his home, his camp and his business, Preaus Motor Co. in Farmerville.
Bill Breed with the Monroe LDWF office, had seen the deer hanging at the Ford dealership owned by John Preaus and his brother, Joe.
"I told John that I believed the buck scored significantly higher than the initial scoring; it was a magnificent buck and I asked him if I could take the mount and have it officially scored. He agreed," said Breed.
David Moreland, retired Deer Study Leader for LDWF and an official Boone and Crockett scorer, was at L&M Outdoors in Monroe recently for a workshop and scored the Preaus buck. Moreland scored the buck at 204 3/8 gross; 172 7/8 typical. The buck is unofficially the 20th largest typical buck ever taken by a gun in Louisiana.
Preaus hit the equivalent of the lottery on a cold November day in 1965. No doubt the mount will be admired for the next 46 years with a bit more respect since it has gone from just an impressive buck to qualifying for "the book".
"It certainly didn't have anything to do with skill or deer hunting savvy," said Preaus. "I just happened to be at the right place at the right time."
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.