Rice killed his big buck - a 235-pound brute that sported a 23½-inch spread and a Boone & Crockett non-typical score of 168 - at 8:15 p.m. on Sept. 4, hunting on a tract that covered approximately 800 acres.
Rice's family grows pine trees but also manages the land with wildlife in mind, planting food plots and doing supplemental feeding. He described the deer management practiced on the family's properties as "trophy management" - letting small to medium-sized bucks walk.
Rice was in an area that sported a mixture of large and sapling-sized pines and grassy meadows, sitting in a ground blind called the "Log Cabin" that overlooked a meadow in a hollow below. The stand was basically along a travel corridor deer were using to move between a feeding area, a watering hole and the safety of a bedding area.
A light breeze was blowing out of the southeast that afternoon, straight from the meadow into Rice's face, leaving him perfectly downwind. It wasn't long before the meadow came alive. An 8-point buck stepped out of a thick stand of pine sapplings and into the meadow. It took its time, munching on grass only 100 yards from Rice.
He watched the buck for several minutes, never thinking of clicking off the safety or touching the trigger. He didn't have to wait long for his decision to pass up the 8-pointer to pay off.
The 12-point whopper stepped into view, along with a 9-point buck that started to feed next to the 8-pointer.
"When he first came out, I'm thinking, 'Holy cow! Where did he come from? Could he be as big as he looks?" Rice said.
But the biggest buck didn't present Rice with a shot, walking directly away from him, leaving him with a great view of a huge rack, but no place on the deer's vitals to put the crosshairs.
The buck walked to the far end of the meadow and turned, without stopping, coming back toward Rice, but still presenting no decent shot.
"I got the rifle on him, but I had no shot with him walking directly away from me," Rice said. "He stepped out of view, and I thought, 'Oh, no. I can't believe it!' Then, 20 seconds later, he steps back out walking straight toward me.
"I still don't have a shot; all I can see is head and horns. My heart is pounding and I am shaking."
The buck continued to walk towards Rice until it was only 125 yards away before it finally turned to the left, giving him a broadside shot. He didn't miss when he pulled the trigger on his .270, and the deer collapsed.
"Right after the shot, I looked and saw the deer dead right there," Rice said. "I was hoping he was as big as I thought he was, because I've had 'ground shrinkage' happen to me before.
"I got down and walked over to him. I was still shaking like a leaf. When I got to him, I just thought, 'What an beautiful animal! Today is my lucky day. Thank you Lord."
Boone joked that Rice really hit the big buck with his truck while driving past Red Bluff Lodge, then shot it to put it out of its misery.
"No way he could have had the nerves to make a shot on a deer like that from over a hundred yards away," Boone said, grinning.