The third week of November is typically the peak of the whitetail deer rut in North Carolina's Piedmont area, and the results hunters had this year aren't proving otherwise.

In the third week of November, Tarheel State hunters, including Mebane's Jerry Payne, dropped several handsome whitetails. Payne's deer fell Thanksgiving afternoon when the 38-year-old firefighter was hunting with his brother, Glenn Payne, in Caswell County.

The non-typical 16-point buck, which was green-scored at just under 150 inches, was a real holiday treat.

The Paynes were hunting a private farm they have access to; about half the fields at had been tilled, and the remaining ones held winter wheat that was already growing. Wind breaks of hardwoods and pines separated the fields. 

"The deer were coming out of the woods in the evenings to eat the winter wheat," said Payne, who was in a 15-foot-tall ladder stand at the side of one of the grain fields. "It was really a mild day, sunny with a high temperature in the 50s. It wasn't cold at all, so I was wearing only a white t-shirt, a camouflage hunting coat and pants."

Payne climbed into his stand at 4 o'clock, and by 5, seven does, a small 4-point buck and a 6-point buck were chowing down on the wheat sprouts. 

"I watched them for five or 10 minutes, then two of the does started running and acting strange, and this big buck just walked out of the woods," Payne said. 

Payne had to be careful to remain motionless because he nearly was surrounded by deer, with two does 20 yards to his right along with the 6-point buck and three does on a hill 100 yards in front of him. 

"When he come out of the woods to my left, he started chasing the two does and never stopped running," said Payne, who credited his Tikka T3 .270 rifle and Nikon Pro Staff scope for helping him make the shot at the buck, which was running straight away when he fired.  

"(The buck) stood up on his back legs then started running straight away from me," said Payne, who had to aim at the buck's retreating white tail.  

"I hit him in the butt, and the bullet angled up to his spine," he said. "He didn't go 20 yards after the second shot and fell in the field, 25 yards short of the woods." 

The buck was a stranger to the property the Paynes were hunting. They had set up trail cameras around the farm before the season and never gotten a photo of this particular buck. 

"We got a couple of nice 8-pointers on the cameras, but not this buck," he said. "We really got lucky to get him. He might have been just passing through. 

"I think one of those two does was in heat. We'd seen bucks chasing does hard all over the farm the previous two or three days." 

Taxidermist Albert Madden of Sportsman Taxidermy in the Mount Hermon community scored the deer's rack at 147 3/8 net inches. 

"It would have gone a lot higher but two of the tines were broken off," said Payne, whose buck had a crab-claw at the end of its left beam and two split tines and several sticker points on its right beam.

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