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December 29: J.J. Kolesar

Whitetail hunting in the south involves a bit of a learning curve for a Midwestern hunter like J.J., but with some knowledgeable friends, and great ground, he got it figured out.

The great ground? That was Louisiana’s Honey Brake Lodge which not only has great deer hunting, but also great food, great lodging, great waterfowling and great guides. J.J.’s guide Mike Corley, along with new DOD buddies Blake Shelby and Adam Anderson helped him and partner Kyle Lamore get a handle on deer hunting the swamp.

The primary strategic difference in hunting the area was the focus on cut-throughs (clear cut paths in the dense swamp timber). Hunting the cut-throughs required a wary eye and quick hands as deer only momentarily show themselves as they pass from one side to the other. From their Muddy blind, J.J. and Kyle kept their eyes trained on the cut-through and always saw at least one shooter, but they were often either out of range or moving too quickly.

The team put their heads together and decided to take a different tact and set the blind up over a three acre food plot of wheat and oats for an evening sit.  J.J. armed with his Winchester XPR .270 and Kyle the video camera, the guys settled into their blind around 2:45 pm. Right from the start, they were covered up in does.

Around 5:00 pm, a shooter buck slipped into the food plot out of the swamp over 200 yards away. He was there for just a few moments before pushing a doe off the field and into the woods. It looked like their opportunity had slipped away until five minutes later when the buck reappeared with the doe.

This time the buck paused at 210 yards standing broadside. J.J. put the Leupold crosshairs just behind the deer’s shoulder and squeezed off the shot. The Winchester Deer Season XP round impacted both lungs hard, forcing the buck to spin and head back into the dark timber leaving a blood trail in his wake. J.J. soon laid hands on his first Honey Brake buck thanks not only to his buddies in camp, but also the hunting invitation from David Cahill of Honey Brake Lodge and Mark Drury.

As told to Tim Kjellesvik.