When thousands of deer hunters from across North Carolina descend on the state fairgrounds in Raleigh the first weekend in March, many will be carrying their trophy deer for official scoring at the Dixie Deer Classic. One who will be bringing in what will certainly be among the biggest of the big won’t be puffing out his chest quite as much as the others, but he’ll be proud anyway.
Clinton Wicker of McLeansville plans to bring to the Classic an enormous Person County buck that he found in a state of almost total decay while trying to collect the dogs on a hunt last Dec. 3.
Wicker said he was hunting with a club out of Caswell County, the High Rock Hunt Club, when he found the buck while trying to help catch up the dogs at the end of the hunt.
“We were hunting this place in Caswell County in the morning,” said Wicker, 47. “We hunt it one or two times a year; the old man who owns it wants some deer killed because they eat up his garden.
“There was some shooting that morning; we killed a couple,” he said. “They got calling around, telling us to come out and catch any dogs that were around us. I could see two or three close to me. I tried to put my hands on one, but he got away and went over and looked like he was eating on something. I looked over and could see a horn sticking up out of the leaves.
“I went over to look, and I saw how big he was. He was pretty much decayed — the coyotes had eaten him, and there was nothing left but bones and a little meat. I stepped on his spine and twisted his head to break it off.
“I have killed a couple of deer in Texas that are in the 140s,” and they weren’t even close to this one. I’m going to take him to the Dixie Deer Classic in a couple of weeks and have him scored.”
The enormous rack that Wicker pulled out of the leaves is a tremendous, main-frame 10-pointer with four sticker points around the thick bases of his huge antlers. With a little cloth tape measure used by seamstresses, he came up with 20 1/2 inches for the inside spread, 26 and 27 inches for the main beams, and 9 3/8 inches for the longest tines.
“I’m not exactly sure how to do it, but the bases with all the junk on them were 7 1/2 and 7 5/8 inches (in circumference). I scored him at 168 (inches), but I didn’t score the sticker points around the bases.”
WIcker guessed that the buck had been dead about two weeks; its brain was still intact inside the skull, and it had a little hair left in places, the rest being all bones.
“He was slimy and stinking, and I got the hair off and cut off his skull cap. My taxidermist is going to mount him with another cape,” he said.
Wicker, who said he still-hunts quite a bit and dog hunts with the club “more for the fellowship than anything else”, was stopped along with other club members by a game warden on their way out of the woods.
“I think his name was Justin Mathis,” Wicker said. “He took pictures of the jawbone and sent them to a biologist, who looked at them and said the deer was 5 1/2 years old.”
Wicker’s buck will be scored at the Classic in the “non-hunting category.” Over the years, three other bucks that were either found dead or had run-ins with automobiles have been scored among North Carolina’s top all-time bucks, five of them Boone and Crockett Club qualifiers.