For years, Marshall Brack has burned up the highway between his home in Shelby, N.C., and his hunt club near the Blackstock community in southern Chester County.

His efforts paid off this past season, in a big, big way.

On a seasonably-cool Nov. 7, a large-racked buck known as the "Chester County Monster" found himself in the wrong place - in the crosshairs of Brack's rifle - at the wrong time - shortly after daybreak.

An avid hunter, Brack knew how to take advantage of that situation, and that may have put him in an enviable position: as owner of the biggest deer ever taken in the county.

The enormous 10-point typical buck has been unofficially scored at 164 points gross and 157 points net (Boone & Crockett Club scoring system). That's awfully close to the county record, a buck taken in 1986 by Ned Polk that scored 157-7/8. Official scoring can take place in early January.

Brack found his favorite stand, a spot he refers to as his "buck haven," in 2004, through some extensive scouting. The stand is located within a valley covered by mature white oaks. It's nestled between two large pine thickets up on the ridges. He refers to them as a "pinch point."

According to Brack, deer bed down in the pine thickets and move into the oak valley to eat acorns, then travel back to the thickets to bed down.

"This stand of mature white oaks is heavily used by deer. I have seen as more than 30 deer at one sitting," Brack said. "The deer feel safe here, and that allows me to see deer throughout the day, including lots of bucks coming by scent-checking for does."

Brack eased into his stand on Nov. 7 at around 6:30, just as dawn began to break. As he got situated, he noticed the silhouette of a deer in an area where he had routinely been seeing a doe. Concentrating on getting settled in, he figured it was one of the deer he regularly sees. But he looked back at the deer and realized it had a stout body and a load of headgear.

He quickly raised his binoculars and the picture became clear. The deer was a whopper! He hurriedly raised his gun and found the buck in his scope, slipping along the edge of a pine thicket - almost out of reach. When the first opportunity for a clean shot presented itself, Brack pulled the trigger, bringing the trophy buck to the ground after five minutes in his stand.

"I knew it was a nice buck and definitely a shooter, but I didn't realize it was a big as he was," Brack said.

How big was it? The 180-pound, typical 10-pointer carried an inside spread of 19½ inches. The buck's longest tines measured 13 inches, and its heavy rack was 5-1/8 inches in circumference at the bases.

Brack credits his Robin Hill Hunt Club and the quality deer management program it practices on its 3,500 acres for his success. Since 2003, the club has committed to a trophy management strategy to allow bucks to reach their full potential - trying to harvest only 4½-year-old bucks.

The club's delayed-harvest strategy, along with superior genetics and abundant natural food sources in Chester County, is a winning combination for producing trophy bucks, and Brack's buck is the proof.

"Our club is located within a very rural area and receives little hunting pressure, allowing us and adjacent clubs to pass up young and intermediate bucks to produce quality bucks," he said. "Passing up that first 15- to 17-inch wide buck is tough, but you have to look at the deer itself and judge him. I have passed up six really nice bucks, probably 2½ to 3½ years old, from the same stand this year."

Brack's buck is being mounted by Joe Mull Taxidermy of Casar, N.C.