Raised From The Dead

Louisiana guide and hunter Drew Keeth had watched the buck for three years, and had hundreds of trail camera photos of it. He knew the deer was special the first time he spotted it as a young whitetail. As the deer matured, Drew began to pattern the buck using a number of high-end remote trail cameras. Slowly he learned where the 12-point buck lived, fed and rested on Honey Brake, an 8,800-acre private but commercial recreational hunting property on sprawling Louisiana Delta Plantation near Jonesville, Louisiana. By January, the last month of the 2008 Louisiana deer season, Drew knew the buck was a true trophy, perhaps B&C record-book buck potential, and he and friends targeted it. But they never saw the deer during daylight hours. They have only this nighttime photo of it at that time, when perhaps it was toting the largest rack it would have at 4.5-years of age.
Eleven months later, this trail camera photo shows the buck is still a giant, but perhaps not quite as large as the photo taken of it that previous January. The buck avoided harvest that season, too, but Drew Keeth continued to learn more and more about it from abundant trail camera images.
By the fall of 2009-- from extensive, multiple trail camera use -- Drew knew the 12-pointer had become the lead animal of a trio of great bucks (all Pope and Young size deer). By mid-October Drew had the bucks patterned coming to a small field food source.
All three deer, including the giant, were coming to the food plot every day for two weeks.
Sometimes they showed in the morning, but every afternoon, like clockwork, they appeared between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
On October 19, 2009, Drew made his move on the buck, hunting it for the first time that bow season. He was on stand at 2:30pm, and like clockwork the bucks showed a bit after 5pm. This remarkable photo shows one of the lesser deer - but still great high-rack buck - taken with a trail camera while Drew is in his stand.
Minutes later all three bucks are in the food plot, with the biggest buck in the foreground.
Even this deer - the smallest of the trio - is a great one by most bowhunting standards. In time the large buck turned broadside to Drew and he sent a Bloodtrailer broadhead with a 70-pound Mathews bow into the giant 12-pointer at a mere 4 yards from his 16-foot high stand. With 20-years experience hunting, Drew knew it was a deadly shot. But he and friends searched all that evening, and even the next day with airplanes and never found the buck. They spotted the two smaller buck buddies of the 12-pointer, but not the giant, and Drew believed he'd lost the best whitetail he'd ever shot at with a bow. But around Christmas some of Drew's duck hunting companions reported seeing a giant buck again near where Drew had shot his 12-pointer. The spot was near where Drew was hunting ducks, and he took his boss's grandson, Samuel Johnson, to the place before daylight, five days after Christmas. As they drove to the tree stand, Drew's truck headlights illuminated "his" buck 100 yards away, feeding nonchalantly in a food plot. Drew was shocked. "If that buck is there at dawn, shoot him," Drew told Samuel.
At dawn, Samuel saw movement in a tall grass field, and shortly a doe came dashing by with a giant buck having double split brow tines in pursuit. The buck stopped at 58 yards, Samuel settled his rifle on the deer's shoulder, squeezed, and the great buck tumbled.
Drew, shown here with a grin not quite as wide as Samuel's - says the buck showed absolutely no sign of injury. The buck had completely healed - not even walking with a noticeable limp - and still had Drew's complete broadhead and part of the arrow in its chest cavity.
The deer had totally recovered, even though Drew's arrow had shattered one shoulder blade and had penetrated the chest cavity. The broadhead had struck nothing vital, lodging between the backbone and lungs, and seemingly not affecting the buck whatsoever, seeing how it had been chasing a doe when Samuel shot it. The broadhead and part of the arrow were totally encapsulated inside the deer's chest, the wound completely healed.
Drew's boss, property owner Ron Johnson, is as proud as anyone can be about the buck of a lifeline for his grandson Samuel.
The 6 ½-year old buck had reached his prime, and is the top deer for several big-buck contests in Louisiana, which is good reason for Samuel to be all smiles.
The 12-point, wide-rack buck green-scored 167 4/8s inches, and is likely to loose just a bit before officially being measured. And while it's not a Boone & Crockett buck, it is a great trophy by any measure - especially since it seemingly was raised from the dead following Drew's arrow shot two months earlier.

Shot through the shoulder, this record-book size Louisiana buck survived - at least for a while.