Counties in southeastern North Carolina haven’t had much of a history of producing trophy whitetail bucks, despite being mostly rural, with near-perfect habitat for deer.

But Columbus County proved on Oct. 28 that it’s got the potential to spit out huge bucks, thanks to Jared McGee, who dropped a 13-point buck that will likely score somewhere in the 145- to 155-inch range as a non-typical.

Hunting deer with dogs is common throughout Columbus County, but McGee, 41, was hunting on a 28-acre piece of property that’s free of hounds but had plenty of deer.

“It’s had several nice bucks killed there,” said McGee, who described the property as unique.

“I have a climber stand in standing hardwoods that are surrounded by big fields,” said McGee, who works for Baltimore Fire and Protection Equipment. “Where I hunt adjoins a man who owns 200 acres. He doesn’t allow dog-hunting, but everyone around him allows it. So we’ve got a sort of honey hole. 

“Deer come in here for protection to get away from dogs, and they’ve got plenty to eat with acorns in our woods and the fields, because the landowner plants crops.”

McGee had ratcheted his climber 25 feet up a pine tree at the point of a “V” he’d mowed that ended at his stand.

“The arms of the ‘V’ probably are 200 yards long and I had some corn out on the ground 70 yards from my climber,” he said. 

McGee was sort of aware this particular buck had been in the protected area in the past, but wasn’t sure if it still was alive and kicking.

“I quit putting up my trail camera because the last time I saw a picture of him was three years ago,” he said. “I hadn’t seen him since.”

McGee said he recognized the deer in 2016 because it had the same “eye guards” — brow tines it had been carrying for years.

“One was 10 inches and the other 8 7/8 inches,” he said.

The morning of Oct. 28, McGee was up in his tree at daybreak; he finally saw a 6-point buck at 8:30. 

“I actually was playing with my phone and happened to look up and saw the big buck crossing one of the lanes, about 130 yards away,” he said. “He wasn’t coming to the corn, just walking, probably trailing a doe I didn’t see.”

By the time the buck walked into the second cleared lane, McGee was ready and drilled it behind the left shoulder with a bullet from his Browning A-bolt .30-06 rifle and Tasco scope.

“It’s a really big deer for Columbus County and my biggest buck,” he said.