For 12-year-old Dalton Currie of Lumberton, North Carolina’s first-ever Youth Deer Hunting Day this past Saturday couldn’t have come at a better time. That evening, a few minutes after 7 o’clock, Currie downed a massive, 11-point Montgomery County buck that appears to be the biggest ever taken in North Carolina by a hunter under age 16.

Hunting with his father, Kevin Currie, at his side, Dalton Currie killed the buck with one shot from his .243. With a 21-inch inside spread and 27-inch main beams, the buck received a green score of 171 3/8 inches; with a few minor deductions, its net  green score is 168.

It can be officially scored after a 60-day drying period but should have no problem becoming the No. 1 deer ever taken by a youth hunter, eclipsing a 160 2/8 Ashe County monster taken by Ashley Honeycutt in 2009.

Kevin Currie said the buck was meant to be his son’s deer. They had trail-camera photos of the buck for five seasons, but no one had ever seen the buck off-camera before.

“We have hundreds and hundreds of photos of this deer,” Kevin Currie said, “but the only daytime photos we ever got were back in 2011 when he was an 8-point; that was when Dalton named this deer Curly. And ever since then, we have called this deer Curly.” 

On Saturday afternoon, Dalton Currie and his father climbed into their stand, hoping to see Curly or any of the other mature bucks on the 500-acre farm they manage. As the rain fell sporadically throughout the afternoon, several juvenile bucks fed across their shooting lanes. At around 7, a deer showed up just under 100 yards from their stand. Dalton whispered to his father when the buck, which appeared to be much bigger than the previous ones, showed up.

“There is a big non-typical in the lane,” Dalton Currie told his father, thinking the buck was a big non-typical they had photos of from a trail camera.

But when Kevin Currie raised his binoculars, he realized it was not the non-typical buck. It was Curly!

“I didn’t want to shake Dalton up by telling him it was Curly. I just told him he needed to shoot that deer on the left.”  

Dalton Currie shouldered his CVA .243 Scout and looked through his scope, realizing almost immediately which deer he was watching. 

“Daddy, that is Curly,” he said. 

Only a few seconds later, Dalton Currie squeezed off a shot; the buck ran off and out of sight, but he left plenty of bright, red blood to follow. After a short tracking job, the Curries found the buck lying along a creek bank a short distance from their stand.

Curly wasn’t Dalton Currie’s first trophy buck. Four years ago, he killed a 150-inch deer from the same stand. But this buck means much more. His grandfather, struggling with a life-threatening illness, had encouraged him to go hunting that afternoon. The first words out of the boy’s mouth after he fired the fatal shot were for his grandfather.

“This one is for Papa,” he yelled, tears running down his face. 

–Read about another youth's successful hunting venture here.