For Lathan Peterson of Taylorsville, N.C., his annual trip to the Caswell County Game Lands for opening day of muzzleloader season proved to be a successful hunt when a brute 11 pointer stepped out of the brush. But, his piercing phone alarm sounded off unexpectedly from 20 feet up in his tree stand, almost spoiling his morning hunt.
Peterson and the rest of his hunting party travel to the Caswell County Game Lands annually. And just about every year, one of his companions kills a deer of some sort. This year, it was his turn.
As they do each year, they arrived on Friday and spent half the day walking around and looking for fresh sign across the 17,000-acre public land jewel. Peterson quickly found some good sign off the beaten path, so he set up his climbing tree stand.
“I try to go where nobody else wants to go,” he said.
He set up bordering a thick bottomland with fresh sign all over the place, and he sweetened the pot with a couple of buck bombs near his stand that would fill the air with estrus aromas.
The next morning, Peterson climbed into his tree stand an hour before daylight to ensure the woods were well settled before the sun rose. It was just beginning to crack day and something startled him.
“My phone alarm went off on my phone at 7:05 and it was real loud,” he said. “I felt like I had messed up. I said to myself that it was over now.”
Peterson decided to pull out his bleat can and turn it over a couple of times in hopes it would ease the nerves of any deer in earshot that probably heard the alarm.
Then, at 7:20 a.m., something caught his eye.
“I saw a buck slinging his horns in the thicket at 60 yards away,” he said.
It was a good buck, but he was too deep in the thicket for Peterson to get a clean shot. Then the deer steadily walked through the thick brush and headed his way, finally stepping out into the opening at 40 yards to give Peterson a quartering-to shot opportunity. But, he still wanted to wait until the deer stepped broadside. Then the deer looked up at him.
“He locked eyes on me and I realized it was now or never. So, I put the cross hairs just in front of the shoulder at the base of the neck and let the lead sling,” he said.
He squeezed the trigger on his Savage .50 caliber muzzleloader and when the smoke cleared, Peterson could see his buck laying there lifeless.
“It was exciting! But, honestly, it was pure luck!”
Peterson’s buck is anticipated to score in the 130’s and is the largest any of his hunting group had ever taken on the annual trip to the Caswell County Game Lands. And for Peterson, it will be the highest scoring buck he has ever taken, topping the 8-pointer he took in Stokes County last season that scored 123.