Shelby hunter kills huge public land 13-point buck

13-point buck

He killed the 13-point buck from a tree saddle

Julian Ridings of Shelby, N.C. killed a huge 13-point buck on South Mountains Game Land on Oct. 3. He’s been hunting that land since he was a kid. And this was the first buck he’s ever killed there. The buck green-scored more than 139 inches.

“I’ve been hunting there since I was 6-years old with my granddad. The one I killed is actually the first buck I have ever seen up there. I’ve seen several deer and bears over the years. But that was the first buck I’d ever seen in all that time,” he said.

Although his granddad has since passed on, Ridings has continued hunting there, keeping the tradition alive.

Ridings was hunting with a Trophyline Tree Saddle, and said its lightweight portability is what gave him the opportunity to kill the buck.

“Hunting with a tree saddle is probably the most versatile way to hunt. It allows you to hunt the same general vicinity on any wind. And it gives you 360-degrees of shooting ability. Another thing is, I’ve climbed trees that I wouldn’t have been able to fit a climbing stand on. And you can stand or sit or lean. It’s very versatile and lightweight. I hiked in about a mile in pretty rough terrain. And that would have been much more difficult with any other type of hunting stand,” he said.

He was in his stand for about two hours when he looked at his phone to see that it was 6:57 p.m. Something told him to look up.

“I felt like my granddad was there with me”

“I shut my eyes for a brief second. And all of a sudden, it just felt like somebody tapped me on the shoulder telling me to look up,” he said.

And when he looked up, he saw the 13-point buck.

“I opened my eyes and he was standing there, 18 yards away. He was looking at me and he was stomping. He knew something was there, but he couldn’t smell me. I was hunting downwind of where he was going. But he knew something wasn’t right,” he said.

The buck stomped another four or five times, looking away briefly in between stomps. On one of those brief few seconds, Ridings was able to grab his Thompson Center Encore, take aim, pull the hammer back and make a good shot.

“He gave me about 5 or 6 seconds each time he’d look away. I don’t even know how I was able to grab my muzzleloader and do all that so quickly. But luckily I was able to,” he said.

Ridings pulled the trigger. He knew he’d made a good shot. The deer stumbled off, and with the help of some friends, Ridings found it about 45 minutes later.

Coyotes found the 13-point buck first 

Aside from the impressive rack on the 13-point buck, it also had a huge body, weighing more than 220 pounds.

“By the time we found it, the coyotes were already there. But luckily we were able to scare them off and save all the meat and everything. My buddies LuJak, Daniel, Zach, Dale, and Tyler were a huge help. The hike there is straight up going in, and straight down coming out. Very steep. If not for their help, I’d still be dragging that deer,” he said.

Even with the help, it took a long time to get the deer out. And with a 45-minute drive home from the mountain, it was 3 a.m. before Ridings got home.

“It was a long day, but that helped make it so special. It was a truly surreal experience and a memorable hunt that I’ll never forget,” he said.

To help commemorate the hunt, Ridings is getting a mount made of the buck at Twisted Tines Taxidermy in Shelby.


Bag-A-Buck contest

Congratulations to Ridings, who is now entered in our Bag-A-Buck contest, making him eligible for a number of great prizes. This includes the grand prize — a 2-day, two-man hunt at Cherokee Run Hunting Lodge. Click here to view the Bag-A-Buck gallery or to enter the contest yourself.

Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1694 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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