Karley Davidson may be 16, but she approaches hunting like a 40-year veteran.

After moving with her family from Moore County to Randolph County last May, she immediately began checking the family’s 30-acre homestead for deer sign.

“Nobody has been hunting around there, so the first thing I do is go check out the woods and find a spot to put up my deer stand and deer camera,” said Davidson, a sophomore at North Moore High School.

She discovered deer trails “all over the place” but few old rubs and no scrapes. Last summer, she cut shooting lanes. In the fall, she scattered corn in the thick woods near a spot she’d put out a trail camera and picked as a good spot for a tree stand. For weeks the camera’s images showed mostly does and small bucks.

“On Sept. 6, we got a photo of a small 6-point buck, and a guy down the road said the area only had small bucks – which I didn’t believe,” she said.

On Oct. 19, the camera picked up an image of a large buck at midnight. The deer stayed in the area for five days, showing up on the camera at night. But on Nov. 18, the trail camera produced an image of the big buck at 9:40 a.m.

Davidson ditched school the next day.

“I knew this was my chance if I wanted to take this buck,” she said, immediately freshening up her corn pile.

The next morning, after placing some Golden Estrus doe scent on a wick and scattering the rest of it, she climbed into the stand as the temperature hovered at 19 degrees.

Twice the buck chased does within sight, but Davidson couldn’t get a shot. But at 9:33 a.m., with a doe standing nearby, the buck charged through the woods and stopped.

Davidson nailed the deer with a chest shot from her Remington Model 770 .243 rifle, and the 100-grain bullet put the deer on the ground.

“He weighed 186 pounds and had a 21-inch inside spread,” she said, estimating that the buck will score in the low 140s.

 “I was beyond happy,” she said. “I still am.”