For almost 10 years, Don Wilson of Eden beat down the bushes and strategized to take a good buck on his Rockingham County farm, and when a huge 10-point buck started calling the property home this past summer, his quest became real. But after he missed the buck on Oct. 4 because he made a mistake estimating the range, he got a second chance 24 hours later and put a 164-inch trophy down for good.
Wilson is a stay-at-home dad who loves to spend as much time as he can in the woods when he’s not looking after his 4-year-old daughter. He has taken several nice bucks over the years, including a 143-inch deer he arrowed in 2012, but he hadn’t seen anything bigger until a mature buck showed up on a trail-camera photo this past summer.
“This deer had been showing up on a daily basis on trail cameras, but he was nocturnal until the temperature dropped this week,” Wilson said. “I finally saw him on the hoof when he came out and walked right to me from 135 yards out.”
The buck came right to him and stopped approximately 25 yards away, but it faced him head-on and never gave him a clean shot at its engine room. Then, a doe appeared, and the buck turned.
“He immediately began going after her, grunting at a quick pace and quartering away from me,” said Wilson, who knew he had a shot. He drew, aimed his single pin and let fly, estimating the deer to be 35 yards away.
“I watched my arrow cruise right over his back, because he was actually only at 30 yards. Man, was I heartbroken. Had I blown my only opportunity? Would he even come back?” said Wilson, who struggled to get any sleep that night.
He went back to the same stand the next day, and to his surprise, the buck showed up in the same place and trotted to the exact same spot it had been standing.
“He was quartering to me again, but I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice,” said Wilson, who drew a bead on the huge buck and released the arrow. A split-second later, the Rage mechanical broad head slammed into the deer’s neck and chest, with about 18 inches inside the buck’s vital cavity.
“I watched him run off with my lighted nock hanging out, and I heard him crash a few seconds later,” said Wilson, who waited 30 minutes before walking cautiously down the trail. He quickly reached his broken arrow, but the blood trail began to thin out.
“I decided to back out and call my friend Jerome Henderson from Duplin County to come help me find this deer. It was a 3 1/2-hour drive for him, but Jerome immediately answered with ‘I’m on my way!’”
Several hours later, Henderson, Wilson, his wife and his daughter loaded up and headed out to track the deer. After the blood trail seemed to fizzle out, they split into two groups to spread out to look for any more signs of the deer. Minutes later, Wilson’s wife and daughter picked back up the blood trail, and they found the deer shortly thereafter, down along a 4-wheeler trail 200 yards away from his stand.
“We were finally able to get our hands on a deer we’d been watching for months. Trail- camera pictures had not shown us the true details of the characteristics of his antlers. Nor had they made us realize the true body size,” Wilson said.
While the buck is a main-frame 10 pointer, its rack features another five points in kickers. The buck’s inside spread is 19 inches, it featured 23-inch main beams and a collection of 10- and 11-inch tines and 4 1/2-inch bases. If it’s preliminary score of 164 holds, it will easily place in the top 10 among North Carolina typical bow kills.