On the afternoon of November 5th, Walter Martin of Reidsville took down a huge Rockingham County buck sporting 18 points and a green, gross score of 145 inches. Fortunately for Martin, the Tinks 69 attractant he deployed, along with his quick reflexes made for a memorable day, ending with his biggest ever buck to date.
Martin is not a newcomer to recognizing a trophy buck; he currently holds high honors with one of the largest bucks ever found in the state of North Carolina. In January 2010, Martin found a massive buck dead on one of his relative’s farms just a few miles from his hunting property. At the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh that March, it scored out as a non-typical buck at 203 7/8 gross and 196 6/8-inches net, and continues to hold the runner-up position for the best all-time whitetail deer in the non-hunting, non-typical category.
Ever since Martin found that deer back in 2008, he has been beating the bushes to get his trophy by passing up young bucks and taking a few does at the end of the year. This is finally his year. But, he almost missed his opportunity when he hesitated while trying to decide to shoot or pass on the buck for another year.
Martin was hunting along the edge of a pine thicket overlooking a grove of white oak trees with a small corn pile around 60 yards away from his tree stand. It was slick calm with barely even a breath of wind to rattle the leaves. Martin put out a generous amount of Tink’s #69 doe-in-heat attractant within his hunting area. The results are evident.
Martin got in the stand a couple of hours before dark, and the deer activity increased as the day wore on. Several smaller bucks came to his corn pile and meandered around his stand. At 4:45pm, something alarmed these other deer, which immediately put Martin on high alert.
“I was sitting in the stand watching the smaller bucks around and they all scattered,” he said. “I looked up and there he was working through the edge of the pine thicket.”
The big buck walked past the corn and paused for a good while behind some cover. Martin got the feeling the buck was uncomfortable from either not seeing any does after smelling the heat scent, or having winded Martin. Regardless, Martin felt the buck was tipped off and would be gone quickly. Since Martin is selective and only wants to shoot mature bucks, he hesitated and wondered what he should do.
“I could see at least 10 points and it looked like a good deer. I hadn’t killed anything in two years and I had one last opportunity to take a shot in the path he was going,” he says.
Moments later, Martin committed and squeezed the trigger on his .50-caliber Knight muzzleloader. Instantly, the huge plume of white smoke covered everything.
“The smoke was everywhere and I couldn’t see anything,” he says.
After what seemed an eternity, the smoke thinned out enough for Martin to see through. The deer was still standing there, but then took off and ran out of sight. Martin was puzzled, and thought to himself, ‘the deer was only 50 yards away and was standing broadside.’ How could he miss? He felt as if the shot was perfect. However, he remained in the stand and watched a few more deer come out and feed on the corn until dark.
As the last few minutes of shooting light dwindled, Martin climbed down from his stand and walked to the place where he made the shot. Instantly, he found some hair and blood, so he knew he had at least hit the deer. Martin gave the deer some time to expire and came back later with his uncle, Byron Ellington to look for the deer. After a thorough search, they found the deer 125 yards away piled up on the edge of the thicket.
“I made a good shot on him and he still ran a good ways. I am just glad we found him!” Martin said.
Click here to read about other big North Carolina bucks.