Joseph Lacayo had a rough morning on Nov. 14, but his day got brighter almost as soon as he got to his hunting stand. He ended up killing the biggest buck of his life – and an even bigger one than he’d been hunting the past few years. 

Lacayo’s day started normally enough, with him getting out of bed and starting a pot of coffee. But when it was time to get dressed, he realized his hunting clothes, which he was just pulling out of the dryer, were not even close to being dry.

“There was no way I was headed out on a 30-degree morning wearing damp clothes. So I started the dryer back. Finally, most of them were dry enough. I threw them on and rushed out the door,” he said.

With the late start, Lacayo didn’t feel good about his chances of seeing the 8-point buck he’d been hunting hard after watching it grow through trail camera photos over the past three seasons. “It was already daylight enough that I didn’t need a flashlight and I thought I was probably just wasting my time,” he said.

He encountered a doe being chased by a buck on the trail. At that point, Lacayo debated going home, but knowing the rut was on, he decided to stick it out. “I talked myself into heading on to the stand for a few hours since the rut was fired up, and anything could happen,” he said.

Lacayo applied some Tink’s 69 to a drag, pulling it down the trail behind him. “I also hung two scent bombs up around me with Tink’s 69, then eased on up the tree about 25-feet with my climbing stand,” said Lacayo.

“I got situated, and reached for my grunt call, only to realize that I had left it in my ground blind the day before,” he said. Luckily, Lacayo had been practicing calling on his own, and tried two short grunts with his mouth. “I waited a moment, then did a breeding grunt, shortly followed by a doe bleat,” he said.

Immediately, he heard a grunt behind him. He slowly turned to get a look. “I saw a quick glimpse of a big rack through some thick stuff. My heart immediately began pounding out of my chest,” Lacayo said. 

The buck went in and out of Lacayo’s vision as it stepped into and out of small clearings, sniffing the air. “Every time he hit an opening, I would grunt. He would stop, but always a couple of steps away from giving me a clear shot,” he said. 

At the next clearing, the Sanford hunter grunted a little earlier than he thought he needed to. “He stopped perfectly, not even 10-yards from my stand. I put the crosshairs behind the back shoulder and squeezed off a shot,” said Lacayo.

“I watched him take off, and I said out loud ‘Drop! Please drop!’” said Lacayo, who said the deer dropped after running about 25-yards. He climbed down, then contacted his dad and girlfriend to share his good news.

A few minutes later, his good news got even better. “I walked up on him only to find out he wasn’t the big 8-pointer I’d been chasing. This one was even bigger!” he said.

The buck was gross green scored at 152 6/8-inches and had a 22 1/8-inch spread. Lacayo couldn’t be more pleased. “All I can say is that I feel very blessed to be able to take a trophy like this, and I hope everyone can have the same experience some day,” he said.

Click here to read about other big North Carolina bucks.