On Christmas Eve last year Louisiana hunter Bobby Neames shot a big 6-point buck before even climbing his stand. But 15 minutes later the buck charged, and Neames found himself fighting for his life.
The 46-year-old hunter set out the morning before Christmas in East Feliciana Parish, La., reports the Louisana Sportsman. Neames was expecting company for lunch and still had cooking to do, but the rut peaked on Christmas and he couldn’t resist a quick hunt.
Neames walked just 400 yards from his home to his hunting spot. As he approached the food plot near his box stand, he stopped in a shooting lane to scan the field. He spotted a 6-point eating rice bran from a feeder 75 yards away. Neames recognized the deer as a buck he’d been hunting for three years, although this was the first time he encountered it during daylight.
But the bruiser saw Neames at the field’s edge and took off toward a thicket. Neames backpedalled and dropped to one knee, raising his .270 Winchester. He aimed for its neck, the only shot available, and squeezed the trigger. The buck made it just 20 yards along a main trail before Neames heard it crash.
Neames said he usually waits 45 minutes before recovering a deer. But he felt pressed for time and was confident in his shot, so instead he set off to retrieve the buck after waiting just 15 minutes.
“Usually with a neck shot they’d fall right there, but being he didn’t run but 20 yards and I never heard anything else, I walked on over there,” Neames told Louisiana Sportsman. “I was probably just too anxious. That’s maybe one of the mistakes I made, not giving him enough time. But I never heard him kicking anymore, and I just figured he was dead.”
Neames chambered a second bullet before following. He walked along the trail, stopping 20 feet away when he spotted the buck. It lay on the ground, leaning over its two front legs. He noticed the shot had clearly missed the bone to hit just below the white patch. The buck was facing the opposite direction it had fled, which meant he was facing directly toward Neames. Then the hunter and the buck made eye contact.
Even with his finger on the trigger, Neames didn’t have a chance to react. He said the buck leapt forward from the ground, its hooves never touching the dirt until it reached him. “I do remember thinking, ‘I can’t believe this deer is jumping like this,'” Neames told the website. “It’s amazing how much you can think in thousandths of a second.”
The buck drove his antlers into Neames’ right thigh and flung him. “When he picked me up and threw me, I felt it just rip,” he said. “I knew I was hurt bad because I felt it rip my leg open. He threw me like I was nothing.”
He landed with a 7-inch gash in his thigh and without his gun. The buck snagged the strap when it charged and the rifle was now tangled in its antlers. The buck didn’t seem to notice, and charged Neames again as he lay on the ground.
“He’s fighting me and I remember the gun hitting me in the head and slinging around. I remember thinking if he don’t kill me, the damn gun will go off and shoot me. I was scared to death because I knew it was off safety.”
Neames struggled with the buck for several minutes. At 6-feet tall and 240 pounds, Neames said his size saved him. He was able to hold the buck off for a bit, but he was still trapped on the ground.
“All I could do was try to grab his horns every time he came down at me. If my hands would have slipped off one time, he’d have just rammed the horns through my chest,” Neames told the website. “I knew I had to protect my lungs, my heart and my face. But I was on my back and I couldn’t get to my feet.”
As the buck made another charge, Neames seized its antlers. “The last time he came at me, something told me to just twist his neck like you’d bulldog a steer,” he said. “I twisted his neck and he did a complete flip all the way over me.”
The buck crashed. Its antlers caught on the ground for a few seconds, giving Neames a chance to scramble away. He made it just eight feet, but it was far enough. The buck looked at him and fled with the rifle still in its antlers. Neames’ son later found the dented rifle covered in blood 30 yards down the path.
Neames successfully fought off the buck, but now he faced a 400-yard hike uphill to his house. He didn’t think he would get that far, but somehow made it to his back patio before collapsing. His 21-year-old daughter found him covered in blood and thought his rifle misfired. She dialed 911 and a helicopter airlifted him to Baton Rouge.
The medical staff was unsure if Neames had suffered internal injuries and he underwent 90 minutes of emergency surgery. In addition to the 7-inch gash in his thigh, doctors discovered the buck’s antler had gouged a further 7-inches below the surface. But apart from a few other cuts Neames sustained no broken bones or internal injuries. He returned home late on Christmas Eve with 23 staples and multiple stitches in his thigh.
Neames has hunted for 33 years and he didn’t let the accident stop him from hunting again in January. “It was just a freak thing that happened. He was just doing what was natural to him, trying to survive,” Neames told the website.
Despite the trauma of the attack, Neames said the worst part of the whole incident was losing the buck. No one has seen the deer since the attack and he suspects it didn’t survive. But he hopes it recovered-he wants a second chance to take the buck next season.