Andrew Purcell had two big surprises at about 6:15 on Sunday, Oct. 28, sitting in a box blind in the middle of a field, looking down from his tower at several deer feeding out to his right.

First, he happened to glance to his left, and already out in the field a good 20 yards was another deer. And second, that deer was an enormous buck that he’d had on trail camera this past summer and through September before, in Purcell's words, “it disappeared.”

It didn’t take Purcell long to rectify the situation. He raised his .50-caliber CVA muzzleloader and drove a 250-grain Hornady slug into the buck’s shoulder. About two hours later, he found himself standing over a tremendous buck of a lifetime.

Purcell’s buck, killed in his home county, Orange County, N.C., carried a tall, heavy rack that was measured at 162 3/8 inches, including 11 1/2- and 11 3/4-inch tines, 6- and 6 1/2-inch brow tines and circumference measurements between 4 1/4 and 6 3/4 inches.

The buck’s rack was a main-frame 5x5, with two small sticker points just off the base of the right antler, a small sticker point on the longest tine on its right beam, and two sticker points off the left beam.

“I had trail camera pictures of him all summer, up to about a month ago,” Purcell said. “Then, he disappeared. 

“I went Sunday evevening, and he just walked out. I was in a block blind, a tower stand that I built in a field, looking toward the woods. It’s a really good spot; there are a lot of oaks in the woods. A lot of times the deer come off the left side and go across to the right — they don’t walk in the woods.

“There were deer on the other side of the field, and I was paying attentiont to them. I just happened to look out the left side and saw him. he was already 20 yards out in the field, crossing. He wasn’t grazing at all.

“From the time I saw him until the time I pulled the trigger was about 5 seconds. I could tell right away it was him, and he was broadside, and in a split second, I shouldered my gun and shot.”

Purcell said the big buck ran off into the woods on the right side of the field. 

“He ran into the woods, 100 or 150 yards; I walked down there, and I thought I heard something in the woods,” he said. “but there was no blood where he was when i shot. He didn’t bleed at all. The reason was, the bullet didn’t come out the other side. I shot him in the right side, and it went in and didn’t come out the other shoulder.”

Purcell called a couple of friends who came and helped him trail the buck. Without a blood trail, they worked methodically through the woods. At about 8:45, Purcell stumbled on him.

“I walked up on him. We all walked past him first; I was coming back when we found him.”

The buck was a great reward for Purcell’s patience.

“Hard work pays off,” he said. “I hadn’t killed anything on this piece of property for six years. I’d been letting them grow and walk.”