We’ve all been there. You’re super excited about the next day’s hunt and for whatever reason, you oversleep. The story behind Jeffrey Burgess II’s Rutherford County buck that he took on Dec. 5 testifies that late is certainly better than never, because this 151 ¼- inch, 18-point was a late morning mover.

“It was a rough start, but a good finish,” said Burgess, a resident of Ellenboro. “My dad came and got me up. I hurried and got my stuff together and went to my hunting spot. By then, it was daylight, so I was just easing through the woods, looking.”

When Burgess arrived at his stand, nestled in a dense thicket overlooking a creek bottom, he heard rustling and got another dose of bad luck.  

“All I saw was a white tail,” he said. “I couldn’t tell what it was, but it was a deer.”  

Discouraged, but not defeated, after spooking his quarry, he climbed in and was settled by 8 o’clock.

Two hours later, Burgess’s father sent a text from his stand, about 150 yards away.  

“He said there was a couple of does on him and we might see a buck come through,” Burgess said. “About 15 minutes later, I caught a little bit of movement in the thicket. I looked up, and all I could see were antlers.”  

And no wonder. The buck had tines as long as 9 ½ inches and an inside spread of 18 inches.

“He went on down to the creek bottom, and I pulled my rifle up and tried to scope him,” he said.  

In his excitement, Burgess forgot about an adjacent tree that he used to break up his outline.  

“When I was following him in my scope, I hit that tree with my rifle,” he said. “I hit it hard, and man, it vibrated.”  

Luckily, the buck paused for just a second and kept moving.  

“He had a pretty good trot going,” said Burgess, “and I had a hole to shoot through about the size of a basketball. That’s when I said, Lord, please get him to come to that hole, and he came in just perfect.”

When the buck entered the opening, 50 yards away, Burgess gave his best grunt to freeze him, and then found him in his scope. He squeezed the trigger on his Ruger .243, and the buck bolted into the thicket when it felt the 100-grain Hornaday behind its shoulder blade.

“I was shaking so bad, you would’ve thought I had hypothermia,” Burgess said. “I stayed in the stand for about 25 minutes to make sure he was dead and then went to where I thought I had shot him. I didn’t see any blood, just hair.”

“I went about 10 yards into the thicket and still didn’t see any blood,” he said.  

Losing confidence and beginning to fear the worst, Burgess scanned a nearby pine area. 

“I caught a glimpse of something white. I looked through my scope and that’s where I found him.”