A New Iberia deer hunter was close to being shut out this season while hunting in Texas, his native state, until he got on the board Dec. 15.

“I thought I was going to (scratch),” Stephen Hadaway said this past week, relieved that his mid-December deer hunt with a long-time friend, Brad Pisani of New Iberia, resulted in a buck weighing approximately 180 pounds and an 8-point rack 22 inches wide.

It was his fourth deer hunting trip this season to Texas, his first to Pisani’s 250-acre lease north of Linden, Texas, which is northwest of Shreveport. His first three deer hunts were on the 20-acre tract he owns near Kosse, Texas.

Hadaway, 41, believes deer hunting in Texas has a leg up on deer hunting in Louisiana. That’s why he focuses on the Longhorn State. You might say his passion for deer hunting is deep in the heart of Texas.

“Deer hunting is better in Texas, in my opinion,” he said.

He has lived in New Iberia since he moved here from Alaska at age 14. His father, Mark Hadaway of Willis, Texas, who taught his son much of what he knows about deer hunting since he was 6 and killed his first deer at age 7 in the Texas hill country, worked in the oil field industry that took him from his hometown of Cypress, Texas, 24 miles northwest of downtown Houston, to Alaska to New Iberia.

Hadaway still hunts with his father, with his friend, Pisani, and others. Mostly, he just likes to get out in the hill country, or the post oak (iron oak) and mesquite trees on his property, or the plantation pines at Pisani’s.

That’s where he found himself on the afternoon of Dec. 15. He makes the trip to Texas to hunt as often as his work schedule allows as a fire safety technician for Hiller Offshore Services, where he has worked since 2010.

“It was 80 degrees and we didn’t think we’d see anything. Brad just went drop me off at the stand he wanted to put me,” he said.

After a while that afternoon, a doe with two yearlings stepped into the picture in front of the deer stand. Hadaway appreciated that.

“I enjoy watching them, the ones I know I’m not going to shoot. I enjoy watching them. But I do get excited about shooting a big deer,” he said.

He doesn’t shoot to just shoot. That helps explain why he hadn’t bagged a deer yet in Fall 2021.

“I just didn’t see the right ones,” he said.

Approximately 15 minutes after the doe and young deer showed themselves, Hadaway was rewarded for his patience.

“About 5:15, that deer stepped out,” he said.

The New Iberia outdoorsman shouldered his Ruger Mark II rifle, held his breath after he put the deer in his ’scope and pulled the trigger to send the .338-caliber Winchester Magnum slug on its way to the buck 110 yards away. The bullet thudded into the deer behind the shoulder and dropped it.

Then Hadaway got the shakes. He admits he has “buck fever” in reverse.

“I get nervous after. I used to get nervous before. Now I get nervous after I get the job done,” he said.

With deer meat earmarked for the freezer, Hadaway, who has worked in the oil field industry 20 years, was looking forward to his next Texas trip in about 1 ½ weeks when he gets in from offshore. He plans to take his girlfriend’s 13-year-old son to Kosse, where he is hopeful the teen gets the second deer of his life on a youth hunt. The youngster got his first one with Hadaway on an earlier youth hunt Oct. 30 near Kosse.

“He was super happy. So was I,” Hadaway said.

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