In the southwestern corner of North Carolina, Clay County is recognized more for black bears than whitetail deer, but Tommy Hogsed, owner of Parker’s Country Store in Hayesville, had seen a heavy-beamed buck chasing a doe in 2012. He found him again last fall and killed him last Sept. 30, the opening day of muzzleloader season.

“I saw where he’d been in this one spot, torn all to pieces, with scrapes and rubs, so that’s where I hunted opening day of muzzle-loader season,” said Hogsed, 45.

The spot where Hogsed racheted up a tree in an Austin Super Mag climbing stand was near a saddle along a ridge line close to a well-worn deer trail.

“There was a field behind me, so it was a good crossing,” he said. “I got in the stand 20 minutes before daylight. I only went up 22 feet because the leaves were still green and on the trees.”

At 8:30 a.m., the buck walked into a logging road.

“He came in from a spot I’m not used to,” Hogsed said. “They usually come from below, but he came in from above me and to the right.”

He recognized the buck as the same one from 2012, but he noticed its antlers still were covered in velvet — awfully late for a buck not to have rubbed it all off.

Hogshead made a doe bleat that stopped the buck; he already had his Leupold scope’s crosshairs on the deer’s shoulder. He pulled the trigger of his .50-caliber CVA Wolf smoke pole and sent a 245-grain Power Belt bullet into the buck’s shoulder. The deer ran about 20 yards and collapsed.

The buck’s typical 5x4 rack has been green-scored at 150 Boone and Crockett inches. Even more interesting was why the buck was still in velvet with October one day away.

“He had only one testicle and a scar there, so he might have lost one jumping a fence or in a fight,” Hogshead said. “A biologist said that’s why his antlers still were in velvet.”