As Kevin Bartlett of Black Mountain and his 11-year-old daughter, Addison sat side by side in their ladder stand on Thanksgiving morning, they knew two things: a 15-point buck was in the area and the wind was in their face, coming from the direction they expected him. And though the sequence of events did not follow the plan they made, Kevin Bartlett dropped the 181 3/8-inch, 15-point Buncombe County beast. Addison Bartlett took her first buck shortly thereafter.
A collection of trail cam pics showed the big buck appearing to enter the hollow from a nearby ridge line. As the pair eyeballed the area in front of them at 7:20 that morning, Addison Bartlett requested her gloves from her dad’s pack. While digging for the gloves, he heard something creep up behind them.
“He came in the exact opposite of the way we set up,” said Kevin Bartlett. “He was in a rhododendron thicket about 10 yards behind our stand. I tried to get Addison on it, but she couldn't see it and couldn’t get turned around to get on it.”
Although the large poplar tree that secured the stand made it impossible for his daughter to scope the big buck, Bartlett could swing around to make the shot. His intention to give his daughter the first opportunity of the morning was overruled by the probability of the buck of a lifetime slipping away.
In a split second, Kevin Bartlett stowed the pack, uncapped his scope, and found the buck in his crosshairs. When it emerged from the thicket, he discharged a 120-grain Core Lokt bullet from his Remington .300 WSM into the buck’s left shoulder.
“He ran about 10 yards and fell another 20,” said Bartlett. “He plowed and went downhill.
He crashed within sight of us.”
When his daughter began packing up the gear, Bartlett quickly reassured her that the hunt was not over. It was a good thing they waited. After shrugging off a 5-pointer about 20 minutes later, Addison laid eyes on a 7-pointer coming down the trail and gave the thumbs up.
“She gets on him really good and then this deer takes a couple quick steps,” said Kevin. “So, I grunted and he stopped. I told her, ‘Now.’”
“I was thinking that I was about to do this,” said Addison Bartlett. “I was about to shoot my first one.”
She squeezed the trigger and her Ruger .44 magnum carbine bucked as it delivered a 220-grain hollow point bullet to her target’s left shoulder at 40 yards.
“Her deer did about 3 backflips and it laid right there,” said Kevin Bartlett.
Kevin Bartlett’s buck carried an inside spread of 19 ½ inches. Its longest tine was 9 inches and it had 6-inch brow tines. The buck also had two drop tines, one that reached 6 ½ inches, and the other was broken off at 4 inches. It weighed 230 pounds and was judged to be 5 ½-years-old.
This was Addison Bartlett’s first morning hunt, her first time firing her Ruger, and the 7-pointer was the first buck she has ever killed.