When Mike Vaughan of Bahama, N.C. shot a 136-inch 8-pointer with his Bowtech Prodigy bow in late November, he felt on top of the world and thought things couldn’t get any better until a 150-class deer appeared in a trail-camera photo on his 650-acre family farm in Granville County. Two weeks later, at 3:15 in the afternoon, Vaughan grunted in the monster 12-pointer and killed it on Dec. 4.

“It’s been a good season for me, and I was very satisfied after I shot the 8-pointer. Our land-management tactics were paying off in a big way,” he said. “Then, when that big 12 showed up on camera, it fired me up, and I was on the hunt again.”

Vaughan had never seen this buck before — or anything like it — on his family farm. 

“Granville County is known for big deer, but I have been hunting this farm for 35 years, and I have never seen anything like this before. We’d seen several 130s and 140s over the years, but nothing ever like this deer,” he said. 

Vaughan set up his stand a little more than 50 yards from a corn pile. Within a few days, he started getting photos of the buck, including some during daylight hours. He decided to hunt the buck every chance he got, but not being sure where the deer might come from, he brought his Marlin .30-30 to make sure he could make the shot if it was presented to him. 

That afternoon, Vaughan climbed into his stand at 2:45, and at 3:15, he made a few grunt calls. It was like ringing the dinner bell; fifteen minutes later, the buck showed up 25 yards out. Vaughn started to get nervous.

“Naturally, I started breathing like a cow,” he said. “The deer must have heard me, because he locked on me and started trotting away. At 50 yards, I put it on him and let him have it.”

The .30-30 dropped the buck in its tracks. When Vaughn walked up to the buck, he started to admire his trophy but noticed the deer’s body was smaller than some of the other deer he had killed on the farm. 

“This deer only weighed 138 pounds,” he said.

The rack more than made up for the smallish body. With 14 total points and 12-inch G2s, his buck scored 158 6/8 inches — the largest buck Vaughan has ever killed in North Carolina.  

“For years, I have let the smaller bucks and even some big bucks walk. This year, it finally paid off,” he said.