Jennifer Morris and Nancy “Tootie” Morris have something in common besides living in the tiny Person County community of Moriah: they married brothers. They also have something else in common: they killed huge whitetail bucks last Saturday on opening day of North Carolina’s archery season.
Jennifer Morris, who appeared on the cover of North Carolina Sportsman back in 2012 with a 135-inch Granville County buck, killed a 158 6/8-inch 11-pointer at around 6:15 this past Saturday evening. Her sister-in-law, Tootie Morris, killed a 141-inch 9-pointer in Person County about an hour later. Both bucks were their biggest ever.
Jennifer’s buck, caught in full velvet on a trail camera the previous morning, had rubbed its huge rack clean and knocked off a drop tine in the 36 hours between its last pose and its last breath. Tootie’s buck was still in full velvet. Both bucks had been captured on trail cameras numerous times in the six weeks before the season opened on Sept. 12.
“I can’t believe it,” said Jennifer Morris, whose deer was the first to meet its maker.
“We had quite a few trail-camera photos of him,” she said. “We had put out a trail camera in early August, and he was coming in to a corn pile every other day or so. Some days, he was coming in early in the morning, 3 or 4 o’clock. Some days he was coming early in the evening, 6 or 7 o’clock. Some days he was coming in between midnight and 1 (a.m.).”
Jennifer Morris was hunting in a box blind on the ground near a small clearing her husband, Kevin, had created in the middle of a pine thicket and baited with corn.
“Deer had been coming in early to this stand,” said Morris, who got in the box blind with her husband around 3:30. “As soon as we got in, not 15 minutes later, there were deer coming around.”
The couple watched it rain intermittently and watched deer visit the corn pile intermittently until about 6 o’clock, when Kevin noticed the big buck coming in from the woods to his right. Jennifer couldn’t see the buck from her side of the box. About 15 minutes later, however, after she’d had plenty of time to get ready, the buck appeared in front of her.
“He stood facing me for a long time,” she said. “There were other bucks around, and he’d chase them off and come back to the corn. The last time he came back, he gave me a good shot.”
Jennifer was shooting a Stryker crossbow with Black Eagle bolts tipped with Ramcat broadheads. She squeezed the trigger with the buck about 20 yards away, and she saw the buck immediately “buck up” before he spun and headed for the woods.
“My husband said he stopped about 40 or 50 yards away, when he got out in the woods,” she said. The couple waited a while before leaving the blind and finding the arrow, which was covered in dark blood. They decided to back off and let the buck die, returning the next morning after calling Kirk Vaughn of Country Boy Blood Tracking in Chapel Hill. Vaughn’s tracking dog, Mac, found the buck about 80 yards back in the woods.
The buck had a typical 10-point rack with a 3 ½-inch sticker point on the second tine on its right beam. The buck had a 17 ½-inch inside spread, two tines that measured 10 ½ inches each and two more tines that measured 10 inches each.
What it didn’t have was just as interesting. Through the summer, trail camera photos showed the buck with double drop tines off the left beam; Jennifer and her husband nicknamed him “Double D.” A couple of weeks before the season, they got a trail-camera photo of him locked up with another buck, both in full velvet, and the next photos they got showed one less drop tine on her buck and one broken tine on the other buck.
On the morning of Sept. 11, the trail camera caught the big buck in full velvet, with the remaining drop tine in place. By the time Jennifer Morris arrowed it, however, the buck had shed all its velvet, and the second drop tine was missing.
Tootie Morris, on the other hand, said nothing much changed about her big 9-pointer from the time she and her husband, Scott, started getting trail-camera photos of him this summer.
The afternoon of Sept. 12, she was in a box blind well off the ground when the buck appeared behind her, in a field, around 7 o’clock. The buck slowly worked its way into a little cutover field in front of her box, where she had a corn pile.
“I knew he was coming, so I had time to get ready,” she said. “I drew and held it for a couple of seconds making sure I was on him.”
Tootie let fly with a Gold Tip arrow tipped with a 75-grain Muzzy broadhead from her Mathews bow. The arrow sliced through the buck’s rib cage just behind the shoulder and angled through, slamming into the inside of the opposite shoulder and snapping.
“When I shot, he took off running, and the Lumenock on my arrow popped off, but I knew I’d made a good shot,” she said. “I got out and went down and found my nock lying there, and I found part of the arrow; it had broken off.”
Like her sister-in-law, Tootie decided it was safer not to pressure the buck, so she came back the next morning. Shortly after Vaughn’s tracking dog found Jennifer Morris’s buck, they put him on the trail of Tootie Morris’s buck. He found the deer about 150 yards back into the woods.
What a buck it was. Still in full velvet, the buck measured 141 inches – the third deer she’s killed that’s big enough to qualify for the Pope and Young Club’s record book. The buck had a 16 ½-inch inside spread and 9-inch tines.
“It’s the biggest one I’ve ever shot,” she said.
--To read about more big deer kills in North Carolina, visit the our Deer Hunting Secion at http://www.northcarolinasportsman.com/summary.php?sec=&cat=201