Kayla Watson of Guilford County, N.C. is studying to be a dental hygienist, but when she’s not in the classroom, she likes sitting in a deer stand, which is where she found herself on the opening weekend of archery season. The weekend ended with her killing a split-brow-tined, 9-point buck that’s been green-scored at 142 1/4 inches.

While hunting on opening day, Watson saw one nice shooter buck that stayed just outside of her range as she sat overlooking a soybean field from a two-man ladder stand. Then on Sunday evening, she got in the stand around 5:30 p.m. and immediately saw activity.

Watson was hunting a 30-acre piece of property owned by her family, and although she and her family members had seen some nice deer on trail cameras, the stand she was hunting from wasn’t very consistent.

“It was really hit or miss from that part of the property. Sometimes a lot of deer would show up there, and sometimes there would be nothing,” she said.

“Not long after I sat in the stand, I saw two younger bucks and three does, but I was looking for a big deer like the one I’d seen the day before, along with some other nice bucks we’ve been getting on our trail cameras,” she said.

As daylight began to wane, Watson saw another deer creeping out of the woods. She’s pretty sure it was the same one she’d seen the day before, and she was tempted to take a shot at it, but then she saw another deer just behind this one. It was one of bucks that’s been appearing on their trail cameras. She and her dad and brother had also seen the deer standing in the bean field before the season started.

“I could see this deer had a much wider rack than the one walking out. It was holding back though, so I wasn’t sure at first that it was going to come out, but then he finally came out into the field and started eating soybeans. This was the first time I’d seen this deer in person when it wasn’t in velvet,” she said.

When the buck was about 50 yards away, she pulled the trigger, and her bolt hit paydirt. Watson was using a borrowed crossbow, and though she’s killed her share of deer before, this was her first archery kill, and also the biggest buck she’s ever killed.

“I really owe it to my dad and brother. They’ve done all the work and I’m just the lucky one that saw this deer in range first,” she said.

Keeping things in the family even more, Kayla's dad Allen Watson will handle the taxidermy duties on the buck.