The buck that Jennifer Morris of Rougemont, N.C., killed on Monday afternoon in Granville County is a testament to what can happen if you let smaller bucks walk.
Morris drilled a 15-point non-typical late in the afternoon that tapes out at 138 inches. Last year, the buck carried a 7-point rack when she had trail-camera photos of him, saw him, and passed up the chance to tag him.
“He really blew up a lot,” said Morris, one of four family members who have a history of tagging trophy whitetails. “He didn’t have any sticker points last year, but we could tell it was the same deer from the shape of his rack.” Morris’s buck has a basic 5x5 frame with five sticker points. She watched him grow on trail-camera photos for about six weeks before taking him at 26 yards with a Parker Tornado crossbow.
“We put our trail cameras out in July, and it might have been a week or so before he showed up on camera,” Morris said. “We had about two or three photos a week of him, at day and night. We had some at 4 or 5 a.m., and we had some pix of him between 7:20 and 8 in the evening, and some after that. It wasn’t really consistent.”
Morris had several bucks on camera that showed up on the opening day of North Carolina’s statewide bow season on Saturday, and again on Sunday, when she was in a ground blind watching a corn pile in a clearing in the middle of a stand of planted pines.
“I hunted a different stand Saturday morning, but I had seven come out Saturday afternoon — but I didn’t see him,” she said. “On Sunday, I probably saw 15 deer, including a lot of the bucks we had on the trail camera. I got off work on Monday and raced home, threw on my camo and got in the blind about 5:45.
“It wasn’t 20 minutes before I saw the first deer, a doe and a little fawn. It was a little windy, and they were sort of spooky. After about 30 minutes of so, I looked up and saw a buck coming — I’d seen him Saturday and Sunday, and then there was another buck behind him, a buck I’d named ‘Brokenhorn’ because he had one horn broken off.
“They started to come to the corn pile, and then I saw a glimpse of another buck in the woods. I thought it was probably an 8-pointer in full velvet that had been with Brokenhorn all the time, so I got my binoculars, but it wasn’t the 8-pointer, it was this big one.”
Morris watched the three bucks for a few minutes; she said they seemed to be bothered by occasional wind gusts. The first two bucks were on the corn pile, and the big buck was out of range facing her. Finally, a big gust of wind spooked all three bucks; the first two left the corn pile, with the bigger buck following them, but he was angling into range and finally turned broadside at 26 yards.
“I aimed right behind the shoulder and shot, and he ran about 40 yards and piled up,” Morris said. “We couldn’t see him, but we could hear him crashing through the woods.
Morris’s husband was in the ground blind with her; they ignored the buck and went back to their truck, then returned, found the arrow in the ground after it had passed completely through the buck, and took up the trail, finding him easily.
The buck’s horns were completely clean of velvet; Morris had trail-cam photos of him from last week that pointed to Sept. 6 as the day the buck had rubbed his rack clean.