A Montgomery County buck had given a family of hunters the slip for three years until Dec. 15, when Robbie Bennett finally downed the deer they called "Big Nasty."

The buck's non-typical antler rack, which features 19 points, has been gross scored by Biscoe taxidermist Bob Morgan at 172 4/8 inches.

"We had a three-year history with that deer," said Bennett, a native of the Guilford County town of Oak Ridge.

The Bennett men, including Robbie's father, O'Neill Bennett – who lives in Montgomery County – and Robbie's son, Hunter, had been trying to get a shot at the huge deer for the last three seasons. 

"We had him on trail camera pictures at night the last two years," said Robbie Bennett, who celebrated his 56th birthday two days before he shot the buck. "Three years ago, we found his right main beam shed (antler). But none of us had seen him while hunting, and we had only one daylight trail camera photo of him from this past Thanksgiving." 

The Bennett men hunt family land in southeastern Montgomery County and have built many deer stands on their property. 

"I was in a wooden-ladder platform stand in hardwoods and mixed pines that morning, 13 or 14 feet off the ground," Bennett said. "The stand was on a knoll, a turtleback that overlooks a drop-off and a creek bottom below."

Bennett's dad went to a different stand about 300 yards away, while a family friend, Tom Suther of Jackson Springs, also hunted nearby. 

"My stand was at a funnel between a bedding area, a rye field and a soybean field," Bennett said. "I think this deer was headed back to his bedding area after feeding, but he also was looking for does. He'd been rutting hard." 

On a cloudy day, just after daylight at 7:10 a.m., Bennett said he heard a deer walking behind him from right to left. He slowly spun left in a swivel chair and saw movement. 

"I didn't know if it was Big Nasty, so I debated at first whether or not to take a shot," he said. "He was only 20 yards away, but I couldn't see him that good." 

The buck halted when it crossed the trail Bennett had taken while walking to his stand. 

"He was trying to figure out where I was," said Bennett, who raised his Remington .270 rifle to his shoulder. "Then he walked into an opening." 

The buck was about to become invisible in the thick woods, so Bennett peered through his 3x9 Tasco scope, put the crosshairs on the deer's rear at 35 yards and pulled the trigger. The bullet struck the buck's right hip and ranged forward into its chest, doing heavy internal damage before lodging against the hide on its left-front chest.  

The animal quickly ran out of sight. Bennett waited two hours, then he, his father and Suther drove as close to his stand as they could. 

"We looked for a while, and I found him in some open pines to the left about 150 yards from my stand," Bennett said. "We had found only two drops of blood, but we followed his tracks in the leaves for a while, then we split up. I saw him (on the ground) next to a log. I thought I'd heard him crash after I shot, and it turned out I was right." 

The buck's main-frame 4x4 rack had an 18 4/8-inch inside spread, six points on the right beam and 13 on the left, including two broken-off drop tines. If they'd have been intact, the rack's score would have been even higher. The 5 4/8-inch left brow tine ends in a crab claw, and the right brow tine measured 8 inches. The main beams measured 25 4/8 and 25 inches, and the longest tines were 9 and 10 inches.

"The rack has several abnormal points around the antler bases, too," Bennett said.