Kendra Menard with her great Louisiana buck.
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Taking a 6-year-old hunting for his first buck may seem like an early start in the sport for some folks, but not in the Menard family. Kendra Menard, a 34-year-old sonographer, started joining her dad on his hunts when she was three, and she hasn’t missed a hunting season since. She decided that her son Cooper, 6, was ready to take a deer with plenty of supervision and under the right circumstances.

On the afternoon of Dec. 4, Kendra and Cooper headed to the 1,000-acre property they hunt in central Louisiana. They were hoping to see one of the small bucks that had been hanging on the property. The two sat in a comfortable box blind while Kendra’s father, Damian, and her other son were hunting nearby at another spot on the same property. They overlooked a transitional area, where young pines bordered taller ones.

“There are always scrapes and rubs there,” Kendra says. That spot is also where Kendra has been getting trail camera photos of a big buck over the last three years. The deer would usually show up for just three weeks every season, from about Thanksgiving into early December. a

The mother-son duo hadn’t hunted long before they spotted one of the small bucks. But the shot wasn’t right for Cooper, so the two hunters waited and watched for another opportunity. Just before dark, Kendra spotted another buck that she recognized from trail camera photos. Kendra saw the deer step out at 75 yards—too far for Cooper to shoot—so she waited for the buck to turn broadside, and took the shot with her 7mm-08.

Kendra and Cooper waited until dark, when her father showed up to help track the deer. They checked the spot where she’d shot the buck and found tracks and hoof scuffs, but no blood. So they left went back to camp for dinner, then returned with their tracking dog, Boss. There was no blood trail they could follow, but in less than 30 minutes Boss found the buck she’d been hunting for years.

“If it wasn’t for the nose of that dog, Boss, we never would have found him,” Kendra says. “The bullet didn’t exit the deer. It was between the cavity and hide when we skinned him. There wasn’t even a drop of blood where he was laying.”

She estimates the 200-pound buck, which had 16 points, was between 5 and 6 years old. The circumference of the antler bases measured 5 inches, and the buck had 22-inch main beams and a 16 5/8-inch spread. State wildlife officers green-gross scored the buck at 161 3/9s inches.