James Griffin of Spring Lake spent most of the 2014 deer season thinking, “What if?” because he had missed a beautiful 8-point buck the opening morning of bow season, rushing his shot and shooting under the buck’s belly.

But in mid-July, he noticed that the same buck was back in his trail-camera photos, now a 9-pointer with a much bigger body. When he had his chance on Sept. 19, the seccond Saturday of archery season, he didn’t miss, dropping the 191-pound buck.

He entered the buck in North Carolina Sportsman’s Bag-A-Buck contest on Sept. 26 and was rewarded a week later when his entry was drawn as the winner of the first of four monthly contests.

For winning the September contest, Griffin will receive a free, one-year subscription to North Carolina Sportsman and a $25 gift certificate to the Sportsman’s Online Store. In addition, he will remain eligible, along with anyone who enters the four-month contest, for the grand prize, a 10-year subscription to North Carolina Sportsman and a $50 gift certificate to the Sportsman’s Online Store.

“It was sort of bittersweet to kill the deer this year, because I was just sick about missing him all of last year,” said Griffin, who killed the buck in Harnett County. “But this year, he was really exceptional. He was a nice 8-pointer last year, as perfect as you could want; this year, he was a 9-pointer, and his body was markedly bigger.”

Griffin killed the big buck with a Mathews Creed bow, a Gold Tip arrow and a Rage broadhead. The buck came into a corn pile with an 8-pointer and about a dozen turkeys. Griffin had to wait 15 minutes to get a good, broadside shot, but this time, he didn’t miss.

-Check out last year's early Bab-A-Buck winner here.