On Oct. 29, the opening day of muzzleloader season in central North Carolina, Rockingham County’s RJ Seiler is on cloud nine. Again. Just last year, Seiler arrowed a 155-inch 8 pointer and his 2016 season is following a similar pattern with another lifetime buck scoring in the 140’s. But this time his Thompson/Center Encore .50 caliber smoke pole did the trick during the unseasonably hot day in North Carolina’s Piedmont.
Eighty-degree heat is not quite the weather most hunters would ask for. And for Seiler, sweating in the tree stand in the last days of October was not exactly his dream hunting scenario. Yet, he had several really nice bucks on camera and one huge 8 pointer that he was hoping would make an appearance. The rut was also starting, and his stand overlooking a cutover would be a perfect place to encounter one of these bruisers looking for an early mate.
“I have two 10 pointers and one huge 8 pointer in the area, but the big 8 looked to be the oldest and heaviest deer of the three,” Seiler said. “He was a solid 4 ½-year-old buck that was my primary target for the rest of the season.”
The weatherman was calling for unseasonably hot weather conditions for the next day, but Seiler was seeing a substantial amount of rutting activity and wanted to see what he could do with his Thompson/Center Encore. Staying in the tree for an extended time is one of his proven tactics when the rut starts to pick up, so he prepared to sweat it out.
“With the rut being in, I like to sit as close to lunchtime as possible. So, I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to climb down from my lock on until 11am,” Seiler said.
As the sun illuminated the cutover early that morning, Seiler kept a keen eye out for movement. And for the first two hours, he saw nothing. It wasn’t until 9am that a couple of small bucks came out and sparred a little in the cutover. But they didn’t stay long.
As the morning dissipated, sweat beads formed and rolled down Seiler’s face. It was hot and Seiler was beginning to regret his clothing choice and was wondering if his 11am plan was unmanageable. But Seiler wasn’t going to budge unless he saw a good buck strolling across the 30 acre cutover. He has nicknamed this stand the “killing tree” because of the three 130-inch bucks he has killed in it over the last few years.
At 11 o’clock, Seiler looked across the cutover one last time before he packed it up to head back home and something caught his eye stirring in the cutover.
“There he was coming across the cutover at about 100 yards away. He had his nose to the ground and was cruising around browsing on stuff in the cutover,” Seiler said.
It was the big 8 point Seiler was hoping to see. He put the crosshairs just behind the deer’s shoulder and pulled the trigger.
“He hit the dirt without making one more step,” Seiler said.
Seiler’s buck was a mainframe 8 pointer with one small sticker point too small to measure. But with a 16-inch inside spread, G2’s taping out at 12 inches and both G3 tines pushing 10 inches, the massive eight point rack will gross around 140 inches.
Again, Rockingham County is becoming known as one of the big buck counties in North Carolina. As long as hunters like Seiler keep managing these deer and letting the smaller ones grow, next year’s harvest will bring even more high scoring trophies to the skinning rack.