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Icy hunt produces awesome public lands 8-point

Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge gives up 149-inch buck

The winter of 2016-17 may well go down in history as just a two-day event, with the weekend of Jan. 7 and 8 featuring bone-chilling cold while above average temperatures dominated the rest of the season.

Jeffery Cutts, a Roy O. Martin Timber Co. train operator, applied for and received a lottery hunt that frigid weekend at Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge.

Despite temperatures in the teens, the 42-year-old was able to get a shot at and down the only deer he saw that weekend —a big 8-point buck that measured just shy of 150 inches.

“Four of us — my father-in-law, brother-in-law, a friend and I — were all drawn for the lottery hunt, so we drove from Boyce where we live the hour and 20 minutes to the Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge in Avoyelles Parish,” Cutts explained.

When Cutts got to where he planned to hunt, he had to break ice in the sloughs surrounding the area. But that was just the start of his problems.

“I had to use a lighter to thaw the lock on my climbing stand but when I got on it, the bottom portion was frozen solid, so I had to sit on the ground to hunt,” he said.

Cutts didn’t see anything that morning from the ground and by noon, his stand had thawed sufficiently so that he could use it. But he saw no deer.

“We drove home and returned the next morning and it was still bone-chilling cold,” he said. “However, I was able to climb a tree with my stand, but the only thing I saw was some hogs.

“By noon, the other three had given up and gone home but I wanted to give it one more try. At 12 noon, I went back to my stand.”

Cutts had positioned himself looking at a ridge between two sloughs. On either side of the two sloughs were thickets where he believed any deer in the area might be bedded down.

“I’m looking to my right when I caught movement down the ridge and realized I was looking at a big buck working a scrape,” he said. “All I could see at first was a mass of antlers and when he turned broadside in an opening at 80 yards, I pulled the trigger on my .35 Whelen.

“He ran just 10 yards before toppling over.”

The big deer was a heavyweight, tipping the scales at the check station at a hefty 230 pounds. The symmetrical rack sported 8 massive points with a 22 4/8-inch inside spread, and the buck was measured at 149 inches.

Don’t forget to enter photos of your bucks in the Nikon Big Buck Photo Contest to be eligible for monthly giveaways and the random drawing for Nikon optics at the end of the contest.

Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.

The winter of 2016-17 may well go down in history as just a two-day event, with the weekend of Jan. 7 and 8 featuring bone-chilling cold while above average temperatures dominated the rest of the season.

LAKE OPHELIA- Going Down Hill

What is the bigger picture here? Do you really know? I mean the way I see it if we keep killin the deer like we do now there won’t be much picture at all. I could care less about grand lake, or any of the surrounding land, I bowhunt here religously and have seen a big decrease in the # of deer here and the amt of bucks i see. Wouldnt you like to have the chance to kill nicer deer year in and year out as opposed to the spikes and 4pts that you are so gladly shooting. I just would like to have the opportunity to be able to harvest bigger bucks each year. Thought people might enjoy that too, even you onionhead.

I love all these people saying how many does have been killed in the Basin, inferring outlawing and what not. On our basin lease this year, with all these “open days” we have only killed two does. Personally, I have only seen 1 doe with two fawns during bow season and a couple of spikes. Our neighboring leases have not been seeing anything either. Normally, I hear a rhythm of shots throughout the day. This year I have literally gone weeks without hearing a rifle shot. This year has been the worst year for us and our neighbors in the last four or five years.

Hell, I may have to take up fishing since it seems hundreds or thousands of does are being killed and I cant even see ONE.

I do not hunt Lake Ophelia, but I do hunt Tensas alot. ALL these problems I see here on this thread are the same things happening at Tensas. You see that guy who posted here about Outsiders coming into his territory. I know this type well. The clique type that has to be accepted. He modifys his ways and accent to fit in with the “in”group. Fake! I guarantee that the first question you would be asked by him and his kind if yall engaged in a talk is, “Where you from?” Guarantee. Think about it. I have seen people I know with straight monotone accent suddenly develop a “Twang” just to fit in with a crowd. That’s fake. One should have more self-esteem than that to survive in today’s world.

Anyway, I do agree with the antler restriction on NWR’s. And yes, without any bias, the bowhunter IS a more level-headed thinking hunter simply because of what it takes to be successfull with the bow on a regular basis. I am a serious bow hunter, but on the Lottery days I am out there with my rifle. MZL. days, I am out there with that too.

But don’t pull that “we were born here” crap on me. I just recently jumped a red neck’s a$# up at Tensas for that same thing. 99% of people, in the name of peace and respect just soak up the comments like the “crying” post here, and let it die. I guarantee that red neck won’t make any more “behind the back” comments.

The NWR’s are in the business for Maintaining a healthy herd of all animals, and second- to provide recreation. I truly wish they would make it all bowhunting, but that won’t happen.
NWR’s get money from a budget, generated when you do what you are about to do now- file your Federal income tax.

Finally, honestly, all those aluminum beer cans and 12 pack cartons you see on the roadside leaving NWR’s and WMA’s after a Thanksgiving hunt or a Lottery hunt, who do you think threw that out ? Really ? I just think that if you take any kind of an unbiased poll, you would see that the rowdy type, with the loud exhaust, probably driving a Z71, who never misses an Either Sex hunt on the public land, is likely to be the culprit. They told us in DWI school to look for the cheap beer in a can, since it IS cheap to buy, therefore quantity can be bought on limited funds which means only one thing- intention of drinking alot. They said the person with the expensive long necks probably will drink far less and is probably drinking one for taste and thus more responsible and less likely to be DWI. They actually teach this. So it is not hard to put together a mental picture of different social types, and see how it fits in with this NWR management.

By the way, I stole one of yall’s Avoyelles Parish women, and married her.

First let me say that I am glad to see that most everyone had some good ideas and suggestions and yes I agree with a lot of them (antler restrictions, restricted area relocation) just to name a couple, but the fact is that we (the hunters) don’t seem to have much say so as far as the rules and regs go on state or fed land. As much as I would like to see some change happen to make it better or easier for you and I, it also would draw more attention to other hunters which is the biggest problem now with Ophelia. I am not saying people should not come hunt Ophelia but there are to many of us in there now a days. Most of us including myself wished they would do something with the gravel road and now that they did I wish it was back the way it used to be only because I think it detered some folks from coming back. Now they are talking about fixing Buck Road next year which will make it easier for more folks to access deeper into the refuge more often. Like I said I not trying to deter folks but it can be frustrating at times.

I have only been hunting there for 9 years now almost religously and have taken 2 quality bucks there. However I have seen and had close encounters with more than you would believe, even still this year. Yes I agree that it is much harder and a little more rare now than several years ago but there are still good deer in the area.

We can go on for days about what we would like to see done with Ophelia but our voices are rarely heard when it is time for the decision making for rules and regs. I like this web-site for the most part but it can be a dagger in the heart for some of the places that we all like to HUNT and FISH. I made a mistake a few years back of posting a pic of the first nice buck I killed in Ophelia and will NEVER do it again. If you want to see pics from Ophelia and the surronding areas go over to Dupuy’s but then again I see people now not even stoping there to have a pic taken because they are scared to draw even more attention to the refuge.

Ophelia may be cripled some what but it is still alive and well. trust me. our game cameras don’t lie. We have taken some pics this year of several diferent specimens that will staight up SCARE you. One most likely larger than anything EVER posted on this site. The best thing is that of the hundred or so pics that we got probably 85-90% were all bucks with 90% of them being rack bucks. The bad news is that we did not get and probably only seen one or two of them due to pressure once the season opened. However I will say that we did get twice the pics of hogs than deer.

I have invested too much time and money in my travels and camp there at Ophelia to give up now BUT I truly believe that it will not get any worse than it is now only because most new-comers will be detered simply by the amount of pressure and the lack of deer sightings that most new-comers encounter.

If some of you serious Ophelia hunters would like to attempt to get together and try to make a difference I would like to be included and so will a few of my friends that hunt with me. Please email me and we can talk. [email protected]

Good luck to all who pursue WILD deer in natural habitat, I know from experience we will need it to some extent.
Any deer with a bow is a trophy but like some one mentioned “need meat. take a doe”, IF you have the option. Really, ask yourself, why shoot a buck that you would not consider a real trophy (something you would mount) “IF” a doe is standing next to him? “REALLY”?? Otherwise I respect the decision of a BOW hunter to harvest a LEGAL smaller buck. after all it is a rare occasion these days.

Some may argue that todays bows are so advaced that deer do not have a chance. I agree that they are better now than 10 or more years ago but they will never be a 7mag. there are only so many things you can make happen with a “stick and string”. After all that is what it is.

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