Staff Sgt. John Valles of the U.S. Army had a chance to go on his first deer hunt with Combat Warriors Inc. in late October as a guest of the Embro Hunting Club in Warren County. He took the chance, and it turned out to be a great decision. Valles, a 34-year-old native of Houston, Tex., living in Fayetteville, killed a 7-point buck late on the afternoon of Oct. 25. A few days later, he entered the buck in North Carolina Sportsman’s Bag-A-Buck Contest, and he was drawn on Nov. 1 as the winner of the monthly contest for October.

Valles’s monthly prize package includes a year’s subscription to North Carolina Sportsman and a $25 gift certificate to the Sportsman’s online Outdoor Store. In addition, he remains eligible¬† — along with every other contest entrant — for the grand prize, a one-day hunt for two people at Rockingham County’s Willow Oaks Plantation. The grand prize will be presented at the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh next March.

Valles said he was “shaking harder than I’ve ever shook — and I’ve been in combat” in the seconds before he drew down on the buck, which had been thrashing its antlers in the brush behind him where he was sitting on the ground, 40 yards or so from a clearing on Embro Hunting Club land. The buck spooked but circled to Valles’ left, giving him a 10-yard shot.

“I could see his head above the brush, but I couldn’t see the rest of him,” he said. “There were these two little saplings in front of me, so I put the scope between them and waited for him to walk in. When I shot him, he took one big jump and fell.”

Valles was shooting a Winchester Model 70 rifle in .270 that was handed down to him by his grandfather.

“I tried to tell my grandfather on the phone about the hunt, but he said he didn’t want to hear a word of it until I am on leave later this month so he can hear me tell it all in person,” Valles said.