The big buck first showed up on one of Johnathan McVey's trail camera on Aug. 8 at 10 p.m., and he knew immediately that all of his deer-hunting efforts this season would be focused on that animal.

A 30-year-old sheriff's deputy from Orange County admitted, "When I first saw the picture, I thought, 'Oh my goodness.' Then, I realized it would have to hunt this deer, and I became very nervous. I knew he was the one to hunt, and I really dedicated all of my efforts to this deer."

Dedication for McVey became reality on Oct. 27, the first day of blackpowder season, when he harvested the 210-pound Caswell County buck, a 14-point trophy that has been unofficially scored at 162 5/8 inches.

McVey has family roots in Orange and Caswell and hunts in both counties. The area where his buck showed up is well-known to him, and although he concentrated on the buck, he had one idea he stuck with: less is more.


"I really rotate the areas I hunt and try not to intrude too much; this particular piece of property is a section of land that I had not hunted in two years," he said, admitting that less-is-more might have been one reason this buck grew old enough to wear a set of impressive antlers.


"I consulted with some of my closest friends and talked about ways to hunt this deer without spooking him off," McVey said. "The area I hunt does have hound-hunters, and not hunting him, I risked the deer being chased away and shot by another hunter. One of my good friends, Brian Sykes, simply said, "Go for it," and that is what I did."


McVey studied the buck's habits during archery season and focused on catching him between bedding and feeding areas. He almost had immediate success.


"Once, during archery season I had the deer at 60-yards, but he (was) spooked by a stray dog that was barking nearby; I knew my chances were going to soon be limited," McVey said. "On opening morning (of blackpowder season), I set up at 5:30; I wanted to be in the woods very early so things would calm down. I was in a corridor the deer had been using and actually passed on a nice buck; I doubted I would really get a chance at this deer.


"At 8:28, I happened to turn and see the deer 30 yards away; it was quiet, and the ground moist and I had not heard him approach. I shot, and he ran 20 yards, and just like that it was done," McVey said.


Shooting a .50 Thompson Pro Hunter blackpowder gun topped with a Leupold scope, McVey put a 250-grain Shock Wave bullet through the buck's shoulder, ending things quickly.


Standing over the buck, which had a main-frame 6x5 rack with split brow tines on both sides and another sticker point on the right-hand brow tine, ann 18 5/8-inch spread and tines as long as 10 ¼ inches, McVey admitted he was in awe.


"I have a strong faith and great family and friends, and I just began thanking them all; really it is about friends and family that makes hunting special," McVey said. "I am just so thankful and honored to have hunted a really great North Carolina deer; this deer is good for our state and shows that we can grow them big here, too."


One of McVey's friends, Johnnie Riley, got the buck's lower jawbone and estimated by tooth wear that the deer was 4 ½ years old.