Rachel Pepper and her husband Michael manage multiple tracts of timber in Webster Parish that they hunt each year. On this hot October 1st opener she chose to hunt a one hundred acre wooded area where they had been getting routine pictures of the buck they call “Lefty.” Aptly named due to his loss of sight in his right eye at an early age. Having known of “Lefty” since he was two and a half years old this was the year they decided to take him at age five and a half years old.
Rachel explained her hunt, “I generally go check cameras and put feed out every two days. I have a routine that I follow. I go at the same time everyday. I made my usual round between eleven and twelve that morning putting out corn and then came back and got ready to be on the stand by 2:15pm, it was hot!” With the High around 94 degrees Tuesday this didn’t seem like hunting weather to Rachel at all. She continues, “Deer movement was about an hour later than it had been.” With eight does in the plot early she was sure it would happen soon but they all meandered off until about 5pm when a doe and a yearling came back into the food plot. “The doe started acting nervous and started looking behind me,” Rachel said, “I didn’t want to turn around and possibly let her see my movement, so I just sat there waiting until an eight point came out. That was the deer that Lefty usually runs with. I continued to wait and sure enough after hearing some more movement behind me Lefty walks up like he had been doing on the cameras all year.”
With a total of four bucks in the plot, things got a little tense. While the deer worked the food plot Rachel was getting in position to take advantage of the first shot she could get on “Lefty.” At eighteen yards Rachel got to full draw and let the arrow fly. She stated, “I immediately saw blood coming out. It was just gushing out when he ran off, so I knew I had made a good shot.” After making a few phone calls to her dad and husband, Michael, they were on their way eighth yards to find “Lefty” in the sandy bottom that is alongside their plot.
There are a few things that are to be learned from Rachel’s success story that are quite simple. “Lefty” was taken on a piece of property that is only 100+/- acres in Webster Parish. Besides not pulling the trigger on lefty for the three years prior to this point there was no special herd management. Only management performed was waiting on him to mature in his natural habitat. Owning and hunting this land for around twenty years Michael said, “It’s been ten to twelve years that stand has been in that tree.” And when asked about how many stands are on that property, I was surprised to find out that it is only three. Michael said, “We’re not a fan of a lot of stands on any of our properties. We just find the sweet spots and try to keep a routine throughout the years.”
Starting a regular feeding routine in early August, Rachel likes to start feeding every five days and increase to every two days starting in September leading up to the season opener. They primarily feed corn and rice bran inside of their food plots. Michael stated that buck forage oats seem to be eaten the most between their properties and they had it standing four to five inches high in this plot “Lefty” left in.
Scent control is a serious subject in the Pepper residence. They stop using scented candles in their home and no scented soaps, detergents, or air fresheners allowed are during hunting season. Michael said, “Whether we are hunting or not it is our daily routine to be scent free. Going to work, going out, basically everything is scent free during hunting season.”
Lastly Rachel was hunting out of a permanent lock-on at 30ft high, shooting her Mathews Z7 that she learned to shoot a bow with, and her arrow had a Rage Hypodermic broadhead. Many things came together for her success on “Lefty.” All that’s left is to go make your own bowhunting success story.
-Austin M. Bradford LABH Contributor