Like father, like son, 36 years later

I had the privilege of writing a story 36 years ago of an impressive buck taken by the late Tommy Simmons of Ruston. On November 13, 1986, Simmons was hunting in northern Lincoln Parish when a buster of a buck stepped out and he dropped the 12-point. I still recall the emotion Simmons shared with me as he told his story. Although this was before antler score and measurements were in vogue, his buck was likely in the 160-inch class.

Tommy’s son, Joe, not yet born when his dad nailed the big buck, took up where his dad left off.

After an extended illness, Tommy passed away in 2020. Joe, age 29, encountered another big Lincoln Parish buck this season and was successful in bringing the big 13-point trophy to the ground on November 27.

“When you write the story of my buck,” Joe Simmons said, “please include the fact that my dad set the stage for my success. In fact, he got his big buck within a couple of miles of where I currently live in the Pea Ridge community of Lincoln Parish.”

Joe Simmons was hunting on a 53-acre tract north of Choudrant in Lincoln Parish. The day before his encounter with his buck, he was bow hunting from his lock-on stand when he heard a fierce fight between two bucks.

“They were fighting in a thicket next to my stand and it went on for five or six minutes. I’d hear antlers clashing, brush breaking and deer running when finally a small 8-point stepped out. I felt the other buck was likely the big one several of us had been after, but he didn’t show. I decided that tomorrow, I’d be in my box stand with my rifle because I felt like he was in the area and I might have a chance at him,” Simmons said.

It had rained the day he was bow hunting but the rain had stopped and the morning of November 27 dawned cool and damp. Simmons’ stand overlooks two shooting lanes where wheat, oats and rye are planted. The woods were previously a mixture of pines and hardwoods that had been cut some 15 years ago, leaving the area a dense thicket — perfect habitat for a big buck.

“I got out early and had to walk through corn I had scattered on one of my lanes. I used an Ever Calm scent cover on my boots and every 50 yards or so, I put out some Code Blue estrous doe scent before climbing into my stand,” he recalled.

After not seeing any action the first hour or so after daylight, a buddy hunting nearby texted him about a nice buck he had just shot with his bow.

“Since I wasn’t seeing anything and my buddy was excited about his bow kill, I shut the windows on my stand, called him to hear his story and we talked for maybe 15 minutes. After we finished talking, I opened the windows again and half an hour later, I looked up to see a big buck walking across my lane at 65 yards. I couldn’t be sure if it was the big one I was after, but since it was bigger than any others I knew about in this area, I put my Browning BAR .270 short mag on the window, grunted to make the deer stop and I took the shot. The buck crumpled but then disappeared into the woods,” said Simmons.

Walking to the site of the shot, there was no blood and Simmons considered going to get his blood-tracking dog. There was no need for a tracking dog because he took two steps into the woods and saw antlers. The big buck had only run 15 yards before collapsing.

The buck sported 13 points with an inside spread of 17 5/8 inches, bases around 5 inches each with main beams stretching to near 27 inches each. The buck, which was rutted down, weighed 170 pounds and was determined to be around 5 ½ years old. Simmons took the buck to Greg Hicks, official scorer for Buck Masters, and the rack measured 174 3/8 inches.

“It’s hard to express what I feel,” Simmons said, “about getting another Lincoln Parish trophy buck 36 years after my dad got his.”

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