Austin Hanks of Reidsville, N.C. is heavily dialed into archery hunting.
That's why the 23-year-old carried an Obsession Fusion 6 compound bow with him into a Millennium tree stand the last day of central North Carolina’s muzzle-loader season.
“I just enjoy bow hunting,” said Hanks, who works with his father, Clyde Hanks, at Hanks Game Calls of Reidsville. “Bow hunting, for me, is a lot more of a challenge.”
Through the past several years, he’s bagged a 140-class 10-point whitetail and several borderline Pope&Young bucks.
“But this is my best,” he said. “I scored (the rack) with a phone app. It tells you what to measure; you measure and punch in the numbers and it adds everything. The rack grossed 163 (inches).”
The hunter's trail cameras had snapped photos of the Rockingham County deer Sept. 24 and 25, but the rocking-chair buck disappeared during October, except for a few days. Then he dropped out of sight again.
“He came back Nov. 1 in person,” he said.
The deer came within bow range a few days earlier, but Hanks didn’t release an arrow because of a slight obstruction.
“I set my sight pin at 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards, and I feel pretty confident at those distances,” he said. “But when he came in that day to tend a scrape at 37 yards, a small limb was in the way. I could have taken a shot, but you never know what might happen. A little off, and the arrow could hit the limb, wound the deer or miss him altogether.”
So Hanks watched the buck paw the scrape then walk away. He hoped he'd get another chance at the huge deer, but he couldn't know for sure.
Wearing Mossy Oak camouflage, including facemask and gloves, Hanks climbed into his stand Nov. 10 at 3:45 p.m.
“After 30 minutes, a deer came in tending a doe,” he said. “But something happened to make her skittish. I think they were smelling where I walked in, but whatever it was, she was getting ready to go — and he was going with her.”
With his Beman 340 carbon arrows tipped with Rage X-Treme two-bladed, expandable broadheads, Hanks had a clear shot this time. But the hunter knew he didn't have long. He already had ranged the shot at 25 yards, so he knew where to place his sight pin.
“(The buck) was quartering toward me, so I didn't have the best angle, but even though he'd stopped, he was alert and watching,” Hanks said. “I figured it was now or never, so I took the shot. The arrow hit against his front shoulder.”
The buck ran about 80 yards.
“I saw him run and stop,” Hanks said. “After I got down, I followed the blood trail, and he fell right where I’d last seen him.”
Both main beams measured 24 inches on the 5x5 main frame with three 1-inch sticker points at the their bases. The right G2 was the longest at 13 2/8 inches, Hanks said.
“With the trash (abnormal points) and uneven points, there's probably only about 5 inches of total deductions (from the rack's Boone-and-Crockett score),” he said.
The father-son duo will display the rack at their Hanks Game Calls booth at the 2018 Dixie Deer Classic.