Wilson County’s Jesse James doesn’t have a large hunting tract. It’s less than 2-acres big, but thanks to recent logging on adjacent property, the small plot of woods is a bottleneck for wildlife moving back and forth to larger wooded areas nearby. This bottleneck gave him a chance at a buck that such a small tract usually wouldn’t consistently hold.

The bottleneck is so heavily traveled that in the first three days of mounting a trail camera, James got 800 photos of deer. One particular deer caught his eye, and he decided he’d let everything else walk but that one. He saw the deer many times once the season started, on trail cameras and in person, but he never had a clean shot at it until Nov. 11.

“That buck’s first time on camera was Sept 14, and for the next three weeks, he appeared every single night,” said James.

During bow season, James hunted hard every day before and after work. He spotted the buck one time during all those hunts, but it was after legal shooting time. Two weeks after that day, James was in the stand with his rifle when he saw the deer again, but it was about 250-yards away, and James decided not to risk such a long shot. 

“I didn’t even consider taking a shot. I would rather let him walk than spook him, or worse, injure him,” said James, who continued to let other bucks walk, focusing on just this one deer.

On Nov. 11, it all came together for James. He got into his 17-foot ladder stand at 4:15 in the afternoon. He hit his Primos call three times, then waited. At 4:45, the deer walked into the bean field 30 yards away, James took aim, pulled the trigger on his .300 Ultra Mag, and hit the buck right in the chest. 

Using the jawbone, James aged the deer to be between 5- and 6-years-old, and feels especially lucky to have harvested such a fine buck on his small piece of hunting ground.

“It took me being there every day possible, just waiting for him to slip up,” said James.

The buck was pretty beat up, James said.

“It had several broken tines and really rough-looking road rash. Looked like it had been hit by a car at some point,” he said.

The buck’s rack had a 22-inch spread, and measured 136 7/8-inches when green-scored. James felt this deer deserved a special type of taxidermy, so he opted for a full-body mount from Heath Webb Taxidermy in Black Creek.

Click here to read about other big North Carolina bucks.