Talkin' Outdoors

There’s a spot up in Morehouse Parish that is steeped in history. White Oak Bluff sits on the Morehouse Parish side of the Boeuf River and for more than a century, the area has been a campsite where residents living in the vicinity would get together there a couple of times a year for a camp-out.

Tents would be set up and community residents would take a few days away from daily chores to relax and enjoy each others company and have dinner on the ground.

On one memorable occasion, 34 year-old Joe Sam Rolfe, who lived in the town of Oak Ridge some 10-12 miles from White Oak Bluff, was there with family and friends to enjoy the campout. Little did he know that the .38 caliber side-arm he carried strapped to his side would one day put his name in the record book.

While he was there attending a camp-out, Rolfe encountered a big buck, a deer that took off running. Rolfe had but one shot and he took it — right in the rear end. The buck was recovered and the massive set of antlers now graces the wall in the home of his grandson, Joe Cooper Rolfe in Oak Ridge.

The fact that Rolfe was able to down a trophy buck with a single shot from his pistol is a story in itself. However, the fact that he accomplished this feat in the year 1900 blows all other details out of the water.

“My granddad was born in 1866 and passed away in 1946 before I was born,” grandson Joe explained. “Deer were almost non-existent back then. From stories I have heard, my granddad didn’t see another deer until the big flood in 1927.

“The rack of granddad’s buck had been handed down to a cousin who hung it on the wall at the family’s old home place near Oak Ridge. When she passed away, another cousin told me if I wanted anything out of the old house, I could have it; they were afraid that since nobody would be living in it, the house and its contents would eventually deteriorate. I went down, collected a few things from the house, including my granddad’s set of antlers.”

Soon after acquiring the rack, Rolfe showed the antlers to Robert Barham, Oak Ridge resident and current Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Rolfe asked Barham if he could score it. Barham put a tape to the rack and came up with an unofficial score that was above the minimum for a typical Boone and Crockett rack. He urged Rolfe to have it officially scored.

“That was back in 1970 when I first got the rack. A few weeks ago, I called Robert and asked him if he thought it was too late to have the set of antlers scored. He said absolutely not and agreed to take it with him to Baton Rouge and have Scott Durham, Deer Study Leader and official scorer, take a look at it. Durham scored the 10-point rack as a typical with the score of 172 4/8,” Rolfe added.

The rack having the appearance of a piece of antique china, is impressive indeed. Inside spread is 20 6/8 inches, main beams are 27 and 26 4/8 each with bases 5 ½ inches each. The mass carries throughout the sturdy rack.

According to current big game records for Louisiana, Joe Sam Rolfe’s buck sits in 23rd place on the all time Boone and Crockett list for typical whitetails. I dare say that none of those above him on the list has the longevity of Rolfe’s buck. It has taken this beautiful 10-point buck 115 years to make the book but it is well worth the wait. Kudos to Joe Cooper Rolfe for seeing that it got done — and to Robert Barham for sharing this remarkable story with me.